© Tsekyi Thür

Improved Burners

After the round burners, above all the Kosmos burners and the flame disc burners, had become generally accepted and the flat burners had been pushed out of the market, an intensive period of development began, led by the search for the ever better burner. Variants were developed that improved the air supply below, at and above the flame. Ever more ingenious constructions were used to heat the air introduced in order to achieve better mixing with the kerosene/paraffin evaporating just before the flame, but also to cool down burner and chimney parts in the immediate vicinity of the flame. A great many patents with improvement steps have been filed.

It is not my aim to describe these individual improvements. But I want to mention two improvements here that did not serve to improve the burning quality, but to simplify handling.


The Gallery Raiser

An important improvement, mainly found in the large and high quality burners, is the gallery raiser, which is used to lift the gallery together with the glass chimney fixed in it (and with the glass shade possibly attached to the burner). In the raised position of the gallery, there is a fairly wide gap between it and the basket, so that you can push a lit match in through this gap and light the wicks. The gallery is then lowered back to its normal position. To ensure that the gallery is raised or lowered evenly, it is guided with special pins in tubes provided for this purpose. This eliminates the inconvenience of removing the shade and glass chimney to light the burner! This is a relief that should not be neglected, especially as it also minimises the risk of the shade and chimney breaking.

The gallery lift was first patented in 1882 by Hinks & Son in Birmingham, in a completely redesigned burner that allowed both the whole burner and the gallery alone to be lifted. In this first version, the gallery still had to be lifted by hand and locked in place. This was done by a well thought-out mechanism consisting of three pins that are firmly attached to the gallery/shade holder combination of the burner. The two outer pins slide in two guide tubes attached to the bottom of the wick knob ring. This burner has neither bayonet claws nor a thread to hold it to the font collar. This task is performed by a very specially designed font collar that can only be used with this burner.

The special, large font collar (larger than the normal collars with bayonet connection) on the font has three openings to accommodate the three pins of the gallery and the two guide tubes of the wick knob ring. It also contains a small, externally mounted button with which one can operate three movably mounted teeth inside the collar. This button is always pushed outwards by a small spring (the inner teeth are then in the locking position). To unlock and move the burner or the gallery, you have to push the button inwards (Note: Unfortunately, this spring is broken and compressed on my model, so it does not work as intended. You can see this in the following photos).

The completely unusual feature of this mechanism is that the burner can be completely raised and locked in place without removing it from the collar. With the burner in the raised position, one can conveniently fill the tank with kerosene/paraffin. To light the wicks, you only have to lift the gallery.

The locking of the gallery or the complete burner at the designated height is made possible by the four notches on both the pins (pink arrows in the photo) and the guide tubes (blue arrows). The middle pin only has a longer slot (green arrow), which only serves to prevent the burner or gallery from being pulled completely out of the font collar by mistake.


The first version of the duplex burner with gallery and burner lifter
Top row, from left: 
- The special font collar with the three teeth in locking position (the knob always pushed outwards by spring force)
- The three teeth pushed out to release the locking (the knob pushed inwards by hand)
- Pins and guide tubes with their notches and slots
Bottom row, from left: 
- Burner all the way down in normal position (the teeth engage the upper notches of the pins and tubes and secure the burner to the collar)
- Burner completely raised to fill with fuel (the teeth engage in the lower notches of the pins and tubes).
- Only the gallery lifted to light the wicks (the lower notches of the pins and the upper notches of the tubes are locked together)


This intricately built burner was probably quite expensive. Moreover, it could not be used with other lamps with normal collars. It was therefore probably produced in a very small quantity and is very rare today.

In the following, much simplified version, this lifting mechanism consists of a turning key attached to the outside of the burner basket on the side, with which one can turn two inner arms upwards, which lift the gallery upwards and also hold it at the highest point. The differences from the first, complicated version are obvious: a) the possibility of raising the complete burner is eliminated; b) the turning key takes over the functions of raising, holding in the raised position and lowering; c) only two pins are now needed in their guide tubes; d) the burner can be attached to any normal font collar.


The duplex burner of Hinks & Son with the simplified lifter
From left: Gallery in normal position - Gallery lifted - Lighting the wicks through the resulting gap


Another English company, Messenger & Co. in Birmingham, developed their own lifting mechanism to circumvent the existing patents of Hinks & Son. Instead of a turning key, they have attached a horizontally movable lever to the burner basket, which moves two ramps that rise at an angle. During this rotary movement, the gallery slides along these ramps and lifts upwards. 


Lifting mechanisms by Hinks & Son and Messenger & Co.
Left: Key with upwardly rotatable arms by Hinks & Son
Right: Rotary lever with two laterally rotatable ramps by Messenger & Co.


While the lifting platform in the table lamps only serves to simplify the lighting process (and adds to the luxury of the otherwise high-quality lamp), in the hanging lamps it is already a certain necessity in order to be able to light the burner without having to lower the lamp and remove the chimney. The burners with a lifting platform logically have a basket and a gallery, which are not firmly connected to each other but can be separated.

It was only later that German burner manufacturers took up this idea in order to develop lifting mechanisms for their part and integrate them in their large burners. Now, gradually, other lifting mechanisms were introduced with gearwheels, racks, lever systems, etc. It is noticeable that gallery lifters are found outside Great Britain almost only on German flame disc burners. The catalogues show that some burners were offered in several versions (without lifter and extinguisher, with lifter, with extinguisher, with lifter and extinguisher), of course at different prices.


Raiser mechanisms of different types in German burners
Top row, from left: Central Vulkan and Agni burners, Wild & Wessel
Gold burner, Schwintzer & Gräff
Concurrenz and Elite burners, Carl Holy
Intensiv burner, Schubert & Sorge
Hugo burner, Hugo-Schneider
Bottom row, from left: Iris burner, Ehrich & Graetz
Matador burner, Ehrich & Graetz
Titan burner, Kästner & Töbelmann
Kaiser burner, Eckel & Glinicke
Regulus burner, Emil Sommerfeld


Manual lift

In addition to the British and German burners with the rotary key attached to the outside, there were also burners that provided manual lifting of the gallery to light the wick. These burners did not have a turning key. The gallery had to be raised by hand and locked in the raised position (or held by hand). Especially the US-American central air draft burners often had this simple system. For example, in the New Rochester Lamp, you have to turn the gallery sideways by hand so that it moves upwards on an inclined rail system. With the burner by Matthews & Willard, you simply have to pull the gallery upwards and briefly turn it sideways so that it is locked in the raised position. Even more archaic is the gallery lift at Bristol Brass & Clock Co. which is simply pulled upwards. In the raised position, you have to hold the gallery by hand until you light the burner. Among the European burners, one must mention the Brillant Meteor burner (Brillant is the correct German spelling, thus the official trade name of the burner) by R. Ditmar, where the gallery is locked in the raised position by turning it sideways.


Some burners with manual lift without a turning key
(Upper row: Gallery in normal position - Lower row: Gallery lifted)
From left: Center-draft burner by New Rochester Lamp, USA 
Center-draft burner by Matthews & Willard, USA 
Center-draft burner by Bristol Brass & Clock Co., USA 
15''' Brillant Meteor burner by R. Ditmar, Vienna


As far as I know, Kosmos burners and the Belgian center-draft burners do not have a gallery raiser.


The Extinguisher

Another improvement is the flame extinguisher. Normally, a flame is extinguished by blowing forcefully into the chimney from above, or by turning down the wick until the flame has hardly any air contact and goes out. Both measures are possible with table lamps and low hanging lamps, but are difficult with higher hanging lamps where the wick knob cannot be operated easily. So an extinguisher is not absolutely necessary to extinguish the flame in table lamps, but it helps to make a burner more valuable, more luxurious and thus gain more market share in the high-priced segment.

The extinguishing device for duplex burners is also an invention of the English lamp manufacturer Hinks & Son, whose duplex burners were equipped with it almost as standard. Here, the extinguishing mechanism was relatively simple: with a lever attached to the outside of the burner basket, flat metal discs mounted parallel to each other could be moved upwards along the flat wick pipes. Once moved upwards, they immediately joined together above the flame with spring force and thus extinguished the flame. Since duplex burners had two wicks, this device was duplicated; but with one lever, both could be moved simultaneously.

As mentioned above, extinguishing the burning wick is also otherwise quite simple. Seen in this light, the extinguishing system of the duplex burners introduced shortly before 1880 was not absolutely necessary. Now, however, Hinks & Son took another, now very important step: they later perfected this extinguisher in such a way that the extinguisher automatically extinguished the flames as soon as the lamp accidentally fell over. To do this, they integrated a freely movable weight on the extinguisher lever that operated the lever when it abruptly tilted to the side from its vertical hanging position, which was the case when the lamp fell. This invention probably contributed significantly to avoiding many fires that would have been caused by falling kerosene/paraffin lamps.

The continental European round burners had to overcome considerable difficulties with extinguishers, as the round shape of the wick tube and the wick did not allow for such simple solutions. Consequently, only a few, but quite valuable burners are equipped with an extinguisher. Presumably the Berlin burner manufacturer Schwintzer & Gräff did pioneering work here. The Royal and Staat burners of this company use very special extinguishing devices that have several lamellas. As soon as these lamellas are moved upwards with a lever, they close together completely by spring force when they have reached the upper edge of the wick tube. This mechanism is similar in principle to the duplex extinguishing system by smothering the flame by interrupting the air contact, but is much more difficult to realise technically.

The only Kosmos burner with an extinguishing system that I know of is the Victoria-Normal-Patent burner by Schwintzer & Gräff. I own an early version of this burner with two semicircular flaps that are held in tension by a spring at the bottom of the wick tube. As soon as you release the spring, these flaps shoot upwards and close when they reach the top of the wick tube. In another, improved version, the spring was dispensed with and the two flaps were connected with an external lever. Now the extinguishing mechanism could be activated by moving the lever.


Two extinguishing systems with spring force (each in normal and extinguishing position)
Left: The duplex burner of Hinks & Son
Right: The Victoria-Normal-Patent burner of Schwintzer & Gräff


In the Royal burner by Schwintzer & Gräff, 8 small lamellas close the wick tube almost completely as soon as they are moved upwards with the lever. This burner was used extensively in the British “Lampe Veritas” by Falk & Stadelmann, London. Another, and I think very innovative, type of extinguisher was realised in a 20-line burner by Brökelmann, Jaeger & Busse. With a second wheel attached to the axle of the wick knob, a rack built into the wick tube can be moved vertically. The flame disc is attached to the upper end of the rack. You use it to lower the flame disc until it reaches the wick, thereby extinguishing the flame. I have not seen this type of extinguisher on any other burner.


 Two innovative extinguishing systems (each in normal and extinguishing position)
Left: Closure of the wick tube with 8 lamellas (Royal burner of Schwintzer & Gräff for Lampe Veritas, UK)
Right: Lowering the flame disc to the wick tube (Patent Brökelmann, Jaeger & Busse)


The most common extinguishing system with an additionally attached extinguishing tube is found in flame disc burners with a large flame disc. With these burners, an additional, round tube made of sheet brass is used, which closely surrounds the wick tube. With a second wheel or a lever, this tube is moved upwards to extinguish the flame until it reaches the flame disc, thereby cutting off the air supply to the flame from the outside. The flame discs of these burners have a small bayonet connection at their lower part, with which they are firmly locked in the wick tube. Otherwise they would inevitably be pushed upwards by the extinguishing tube when it is lifted to extinguish the flame. This bayonet system consists of a small nub inside the fire tube and an L-shaped slot on the lower wall of the flame disc. With the vertical part of this slot, one pushes the flame disc downwards on the nub until the nub arrives at the horizontal part of the slot, and turns the flame disc sideways so that the nub is now in this horizontal slot, thus preventing the flame disc from being accidentally moved upwards (for an example of this slot, see the flame disc shown in the very last photo).

The only differences with this extinguisher variant are in the way this extinguishing tube is moved upwards. Matador burners from Ehrich & Graetz are equipped with a second rotary wheel that operates a small gear wheel. This gear wheel moves the extinguishing tube upwards by engaging in the punched holes of a narrow extension of this tube. Hugo burners by Hugo Schneider and Elite burners by Carl Holy also use a gear wheel that moves a wide rack firmly attached to the extinguishing tube. A simpler solution can be found, for example, in the Kaiser burner by Eckel & Glinicke (and also in the almost identical Regulus burner by Emil Sommerfeld), where an external lever is used to move the extinguishing tube upwards.


Types of movement of the extinguishing tube upwards
Top row, from left: Matador burner, Ehrich & Graetz, extinguisher not lifted
Matador burner, extinguisher lifted
Matador burner, extinguisher tube on its own
Kaiser burner, Eckel & Glinicke
Bottom row, from left: Hugo burner, Hugo Schneider
Elite burner, Carl Holy
Unknown 20‘‘‘ burner of Hugo Schneider (here without the gallery); on the left: extinguisher tube unlifted; on the right: extinguisher lifted


The last burner in the photo above (by Hugo Schneider; not shown in Stoll and Goldberg catalogues) has a completely different mechanism to move the extinguishing tube upwards. Here the extinguishing tube has two slits rising diagonally upwards, in which there are two small knobs, but they are firmly attached to the outer wick tube. The extinguishing tube has two narrow extensions downwards with their guides connected to the outer lever. If you turn the lever to the right, you also turn the extinguishing tube to the right. The knobs in the slots force the extinguishing tube to rise upwards at the same time with this rotation.

I got this burner together with a lamp from France almost complete with everything that belongs to it (gallery raiser; wide flame disc; outer lever complete with the guides for the extinguishing tube). However, the extinguishing tube was missing! I contacted other collector friends to possibly find the same burner with the original extinguishing tube; but without success. I was forced to construct the missing extinguishing tube myself. After calculations and cardboard models, I managed, together with my cousin, to construct the tube from thin brass sheet in such a way that it works perfectly. Of course, we don't know what the original extinguishing tube may have looked like, but I find this mechanism really very interesting, as it is unique (at least for me so far). Presumably Hugo Schneider only made a few examples of this burner, as preference was given to other extinguishers that were easier to build. In fact, the construction of this mechanism from a large number of individual parts, which also had to be soldered together, is very complex and therefore uneconomical.

The gallery bears the patent number D.R.P.No.81542. Surprisingly, this patent has nothing to do with the extinguishing system or the gallery raiser of this burner! The patent describes the other gallery raising mechanism by Hugo Schneider shown in the photo above (with 10 raiser systems).

A request to lamp or burner collectors: If anyone knows this burner with the described extinguishing system, please contact me. Here is the photo of the burner in complete assembly:


Burner by Hugo Schneider with the unknown extinguisher