© Tsekyi Thür

Materials, Techniques, Manufacturers

(Partial summary from the German and English Wikipedia and from my own books)

Many kerosene/paraffin lamps are made of a wide variety of materials. Besides the obligatory burners made of brass and the chimneys made of glass as well as the wicks made of cotton, there are additional materials made of other metals (zinc, copper, tin, iron), of ceramic products (porcelain, majolica, earthenware, stoneware, terracotta), of natural stones (marble, alabaster, serpentine, slate) and possibly even of cardboard.

Very often these materials are misnamed out of ignorance. People often confuse brass with bronze, zinc with tin, alabaster with marble, even glass with porcelain, to name the more common ones. Therefore, I find it valuable to briefly introduce these materials with their nature and appearance and to point out their distinguishing features.

The processing of these materials for use in kerosene/paraffin lamps also varies greatly. In the case of glass alone, there are different etching and colouring techniques. Which glass is hand-blown and which is simple pressed glass? How do you distinguish porcelain from other ceramic products? With ceramics and porcelain, it is important to distinguish between printed and painted ware. With the enamel techniques of cloisonné and champlevé, there is a real need for education, as even professionals such as antique dealers do not know about the differences.

I have imagined that a concise material science on the materials used in kerosene/paraffin lamps for their safe identification could be an asset for collectors (and especially for the beginner). In individual sub-chapters I briefly describe metals, stones, glass, ceramics and porcelain as well as cloisonné and champlevé. The most important techniques of working these materials as well as the most important manufactories are also described in the corresponding info boxes.

I have to disappoint those collectors who were expecting a presentation of the individual lamp and burner manufacturers. Firstly, there are countless lamp and burner producers, and secondly, there is little researchable information about them. That in itself is a mammoth task and is not the focus of my objective.