Today’s buyer’s guide takes a look at a popular collectible item, Aladdin kerosene lamps, sometimes known as oil lamps. These lamps were a technical innovation at a time when few households had electricity but today they’re known for their beauty and craftsmanship. This brief overview will take a look at the history of these lamps and offer a few tips about collecting them.
Guide Continued Below…
Aladdin lamps were invented to solve the problem of a flat wick lamp, namely the flickering flame that didn’t produce a lot of light. The innovation that the Aladdin mantle lamp provided was a round wick and a rare earth mantle that produced a steady glow equal to a 60 watt light bulb. They were also innovators in the advertising world, seizing upon the new media of the day in the 1920’s, radio, to promote their products in a way that would sound familiar to today’s viral marketers. Later the company, Aladdin Industries, expanded to product another popular American collectible, the lunch box, but I’ll leave that to another article.
Aladdin kerosene lamps were originally produced with brass bodies but the real collectibles started showing up in the 1930’s and 1940’s with beautiful colored glass bodies and globes. Some of the most popular colors were cobalt blue, alacite (ivory), moonstone and ruby red. These colors remain popular with collectors today although you can find other color variations. The styles they made included table lamps, bracket lamps and hanging lamps. You’ll also find Aladdin electric lamps, either ones made by the company itself or those converted by individuals.
When buying Aladdin lamps online there are a few things to consider. As always, make sure that you know the reputation of the seller. The best sellers will provide detailed information about the lamp and have great photos as well as having good feedback at online auction sites. Be wary sellers that don’t provide details or good photos or who don’t regularly sell antique or vintage items. Remember that having good information about the condition and provenance of the lamp are the main keys to getting a good deal. If you’re wanting to get into collecting these lamps seriously, I recommend getting a good reference book on them and perhaps joining a club dedicated to collecting them.
Take the time to examine the details of Aladdin lamps you’re thinking about purchasing and make sure that it fits within your budget and collection plans. Remember that finding a 100% original Aladdin lamp is rather rare since these lamps were made to be used. Fortunately, replacement parts are available so that if you want a working lamp this is doable. Also remember that there are reproductions out there so make sure you know what you’re getting, original or repro, both in terms of whole lamps and in parts. Reproduction Aladdin lamps usually show markings that indicate modern glass and metal manufacturing techniques.
I hope this overview of collecting Aladdin kerosene lamps has been helpful. Let me know if you have any questions about them and, if I don’t know the answer, I’ll try to steer you in the right direction.