A quite rare Argand table oil lamp. English or French. Scrolling openwork cast finial above a rope-twist shaft, the cylindrical reservoir and lamp arm height adjustable on the stem, the burner beneath an amber glass shade, above a domed base on three paw feet. Excellent overall condition. Well patinated metal work.
Oil had been burnt in lamps at least since the Palaeolithic age, and the cheapest light fittings used in Victorian homes had changed little since then, with a simple wick protruding from a small container of whale oil or vegetable oil. However, much brighter and more sophisticated lamps had emerged late in the 18th century, the most important being the Argand oil lamp. This lamp had a broad flat wick held between two metal cylinders to form a circular wick, with air drawn through it and around it. This in itself was a revolutionary idea, but its inventor, Aimé Argand also discovered that by placing a tube or 'chimney' over the flame, the hot gases from the flame rose rapidly creating a draught and drawing air in from below. Fanned by a draught from both inside and outside the circular wick, the poor spluttering flame of early lamps was transformed into a bright, efficient light source
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