© Arto Hanciogullari und T. Tsekyi Thür

Other Types of Burners

Besides the well-known and very widespread flat burners, Kosmos burners and flame disc burners, there were also burners that did not necessarily belong in these categories. Especially the burners that carry a full wick instead of a flat wick cannot be easily assigned to the classes described so far. These include, for example, small “Spar” and “Stern” burners as well as the “Mitrailleuse” burner.

However, there are also individual burner types that have some other rare special feature that does not occur at all in the burners described so far. Therefore, I take the opportunity to present some of these "special" burners from my collection in this sub-chapter.


The Mitrailleuse or Diamant Burner

Among the round burners with flame discs there is a unique one with a completely different wick concept: the Mitrailleuse burner or the Diamant burner of the Schwintzer & Gräff company in Berlin. Mr. Touché writes that a Frenchman by the name of Defienne first presented this burner in 1873. The Mitrailleuse burner does not use a flat wick, which we know from all flat and round burners so far, but several full wicks (these are wicks that are not tubularly hollow, nor flat, but are wicks full with wicking material, which have a diameter of about 5 mm), which are arranged vertically parallel to each other in a narrow circle. These can be 10, 12, 16 or 20 individual full wicks, depending on the size of the burner. The individual flames of the wicks join together to form a round flame that is hollow on the inside; this makes this burner one of the round burners, at least in this respect, although it does not use a wide flat wick. All the full wicks arranged in a circle are moved up or down together with one wick knob. The burner is operated with an older type flame disc (medium sized flat disc on a thin pin). The glass chimney used is a shoulder chimney.

The martial name comes from a machine gun that was used in all wars from the end of the 19th century and was called a “mitrailleuse” in French. The special feature of this rifle was that the rifle cartridges came into a kind of rotary drum and were fired one after the other in very rapid succession. The vertically parallel narrow guide tubes for the wicks of the burner are reminiscent of this rifle drum, which gave the burner its name. There must have been a certain enthusiasm for such killing machines at the time, otherwise this naming would probably have been avoided. After a certain time, they were then only called Diamant (= diamond in German) burners.

Mitrailleuse burners were probably quite expensive due to their complex construction and therefore did not become established in the market. Today they are rare and expensive.


The Diamant burner of Schwintzer & Gräff with several full wicks
(The pictured flame disc is a replica)


The Martin Burner

Among the special burners there is a second unique item to be described, which might not be known to all collectors. At the beginning of the 1880's, Abraham Martin in Birmingham introduced a burner that represents a kind of symbiosis of a Kosmos burner with the duplex burner, as it realises the advantages of these completely different types of burners in one burner. This burner is a round burner similar to a Kosmos burner, but instead of a flat wick it carries two flat wicks of half the width of a flat wick that would be used in a correspondingly large Kosmos burner. Both wicks are rounded at the top - as is usual with Kosmos burners - so that their edges touch at the top of the wick tube, thus forming a round wick. The similarity to the duplex burners comes from two separate wick knobs that move the two wicks separately by means of gear wheels. Since these wick knobs are operated independently of each other - as is usual with duplex burners - the two wicks can be regulated to different heights.
At first glance, this burner looks like a duplex burner because of the two wick knobs. However, it should correctly be counted as a Kosmos burner, as the rounding of the wicks to form a round wick stems from the principle of the Kosmos burners. Consequently, these burners are used with the usual Kosmos chimneys.

Now, what is the advantage of this construction? Martin has used two slightly smaller side openings on the wick tube instead of one large opening, which is typical of the normal round burners. Now, one would have to read Martin's patents to understand the advantage of this arrangement. However, I hate searching and reading patents. So here's what I thought about instead of researching patents: Since the two wicks can be moved separately, one can burn only one wick instead of both wicks if one wishes (which is just as possible with the conventional duplex burners). This virtually halves the burning capacity of the burner. For example, you can turn a 14 line Martin burner into a 7 line Martin burner. Of course, this has the advantage that you can use the lamp with this burner both in the evening hours, e.g. in the living room with full power, and at night in the children's room with half power, without having two different lamps. Whether this was actually the intention of the inventor, I don't know.

I have two lamps with these burners. The small lamp L.032 has a 10 line Martin burner and is probably more suitable for bedrooms or children's rooms. The much larger lamp L.359 has a 14 line Martin burner, the basket of which bears a striking resemblance to the basket of the Central Vulkan burner by Wild & Wessel.


The Martin burner
Left: 10‘‘‘ Martin burner
Center: Schematic representation of two side-drafts
Right: 14‘‘‘ Martin burner


The Round Burner of Silber Light Co.

“Silber” means silver in German. Possibly the founder of the The Silber Light Company came from a German-speaking country. This company introduced its own round burners to the market from the mid-1870s onwards, which functioned in a similar way to a Kosmos burner. They rounded a suitable flat wick in their wick tube to a round wick. Their construction principle was very comparable to a 14''' Kosmos burner. But that was the end of the similarity, because these burners are visually very different from the well-known German Kosmos burners. Their basket is strictly cylindrical instead of widening upwards like a basket. In this form, this burner resembles the much later white-light burners (see subchapter Burners with Flame Disc). The upper part of the outer wick tube can be unscrewed to make it easier to insert the wick. This again makes them similar to the larger flame disc burners from Germany, which offer the same simplification.

These burners are also very similar to the large German flame disc burners in another respect: their deflector is really extended upwards, thus clearly overhanging the wick tube, and is curved inwards at the upper end in order to direct the outer air supply intensively to the flame. There is also a small tube inside the wick tube that serves to direct the inner air supply much closer to the flame. It takes over the function of a deflector, which is placed directly in the wick tube. Thus, this burner has many characteristics of a flame disc burner, but without using a flame disc.

Another difference to the well-known round burners is the shape of the gallery, which is a copy of the typical gallery of the Viennese flat burner. Another striking difference is the glass chimney used with these burners. Instead of a normal Kosmos chimney, The Silber Light Co. designed a so-called bottle-shape chimney (see Shoulder Chimneys) for these burners. This is a type of chimney that was later often used in the large German burners with a large, flat flame disc. This chimney is called "Silber chimney" in Great Britain, among other names, because it first came on the market with these burners (please correct this statement if it is not true).

Of course, the wick knob ring has a bayonet connection instead of a thread at the bottom, as is common with many British burners (but the burner is also offered with a threaded connection, as you can read in the company's catalog). My British lamp L.186 has a Silber burner (patented 1879) with bayonet fitting.


The round burner of Silber Light Co.
From left: The burner complete – Basket, gallery and deflector removed – Outer wick tube detached – The pipe inside the wick tube as an interior deflector


A Mysterious Center-Draft Burner

In the series of "special burners" there is also a large burner attached to a large central draft lamp (L.230 in my collection). The burner has a tubular wick of 37 mm diameter, so according to the calculation it should have 26 lines; thus it belongs to the really larger central draft burners found in table lamps. Unfortunately for me, the wick knob is completely without logo and the corresponding flame disc no longer exists, so that a reference to at least the burner manufacturer is missing.

The special feature of this burner lies on the one hand in its wick drive, which is made with a wick knob and an external rack, and on the other hand in the way it is attached to the kerosene/paraffin tank. The wick drive is in itself often found on some American central draft lamps; so one would think that this in itself is nothing special. The amazing thing, however, is that the lamp is either of French or Belgian origin, as on the font the designation "Breveté S.G.D.G." (= patent without government guarantee) is stamped. This patent designation with the abbreviation S.G.D.G. (= Sans garantie du gouvernement) only occurs on French or Belgian lamps.  However, an external rack is completely unknown to me in the burners from these countries.

The attachment and fastening of the burner to the font is also a completely unknown method. The burner has no thread or bayonet, but two L-shaped feet that enter the special recesses on the neck of the font. There is also a steel spring in the burner basket with a small handle protruding from the side of the basket. When you insert the burner, you have to turn it sideways briefly, and this handle buckles into the rectangular opening on the neck of the basin, and thus the burner is fixed. To remove it, you have to pull the handle upwards and turn the basket again (this time in the opposite direction).


The mysterious central air draft burner of unknown origin
From left: The burner complete - Wick drive with external rack – Burner bottom with the "L" feet - The original globe holder


There is also a 100 mm globe ring on the burner, which is also unusual: it has ridges that are bent upwards; the inner 4 ridges hold the globe holder to the burner, the outer 4 (1 of which is broken off) are for holding a shade. This determines that only glass ball shades or tulip shades with pretty much exactly 100 mm fitters will fit inside. Also, the globe ring has a rectangular opening to let the rack through.

I have contacted some renowned collectors in Germany, the UK and the USA. None of them knows the burner. But it is generally suspected that this lamp might be rather an early Belgian lamp.

A question to all lamp collectors in the world: Does anyone know this burner or lamp? If so, please contact me. Any clue to identify the manufacturer is very welcome!


Burners for Night Lamps (Nursery Lamps)

Besides the main types of burners described so far, which were probably used in well over 90% of all kerosene/paraffin lamps, and are therefore very common today, there are some smaller types of kerosene/paraffin burners which were mainly fitted to very small lamps. Namely, there were small and very small lamps that burned with a very small flame in children's bedrooms, for example, in order to somewhat brighten up the dark, frightening night in their rooms. These small lamps could also be used in other places (for example in dark basement staircases, etc.). Generally, these lamps are called “night lamps” in Germany and “nursery lamps” in English-speaking countries. The German burners for these lamps are called Spar burners, Stern burners and Perkeo burners, depending on the type of wick and chimney they required.

Note for non-German-speaking readers: Spar in German means to save, to economize. So these burners were designed to save kerosene/paraffin. Stern means star in German; the name comes from the 5 side arms of the burner, with which the glass chimney is held. Perkeo is the court name of a famous jester and court dwarf of Heidelberg (1702–1735).

Spar burners have either a thin full wick (i.e. a solid wick that is not hollow like a tube but is full of wicking material) or a very narrow flat wick about 6.5 mm wide. With the flat wick, the Spar burner is clearly a very small (2 line) flat burner. An English example of this is shown in the subchapter The Flat Burner. With the full wick, it can no longer be called a flat burner. The chimney to the two types is a small Vienna chimney.

Stern burners only use a thin full wick. The chimney needed is like a small Kosmos chimney, the lower part of which is just 1-1.5 cm high. The name "star" comes from the five-armed gallery that looks like a star and is firmly integrated on the burner. There is another version of this burner with additional arms that serve to hold the small, spherical glass shade.

Perkeo burners also use a thin full wick that comes out from a long spout. From this point of view, they do not have much difference in construction to Stern burners. The difference, however, lies in the fact that they carry a slightly spherical shade made of white milk glass, which also serves as a kind of glass chimney. The Perkeo burners do not have a dedicated glass chimney. I do not have a single Perkeo lamp, so I have taken the liberty of taking illustrations from a catalogue of the time.


Nursery lamps with their wick knobs
From left: 2‘‘‘ flat burner of Schwintzer & Gräff, Berlin, as Spar burner
Spar burner of Carl Meyer, Hamburg, with full wick
Stern burner of Thiel & Bardenheuer with prongs to hold a shade
Perkeo lamps (catalogue Bünte & Remmler, Frankfurt, around 1900)


In addition to these frequently used burners for night lamps, there were other small burners, probably for similar purposes, which were used without a glass chimney. These simple burners are called free burners because they are operated free of a glass chimney - similar to Perkeo burners.


Flat Burners with Draft from a Fan

Finally, I would like to describe another special lamp that has a normal flat burner but does not need a glass chimney at all. The necessary upward draft, which is the main task of a glass chimney, is generated here by a fan that is wound up with spring force and blows air from below upwards to the cap of the burner. In this way, the flame gets enough fresh air without needing the draft of a glass chimney.

There were a few companies that designed such lamps from the 1860s onwards: De Keravenan and Hitchcock in the USA, Wanzer in Canada. Sherwoods in the UK launched the Kranzow lamp in the first decade of the 20th century.

The lamps are made of unadorned, nickel-plated sheet metal and look very robust. In fact, they were invented to be used as a reliable light source without glass parts in areas of the world where you could not buy a replacement for a broken glass chimney. In fact, you can use them as they are, without a glass chimney and without a glass shade. I have found them very rarely on eBay portals; and when they have been offered, they have fetched very high prices. In collectors' circles, they are certainly very sought after because of their unique technique. However, they do not have an artistic claim and have not yet found their way into my collection.