Vintage Aladdin oil lamps

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2015-06-26 10:30:51

Vintage Aladdin oil lamps are round wick, non flickering, oil fuelled lamps made to several distinctive "Aladdin" designs by "The Mantle Lamp Company of America" who later renamed themselves "Aladdin Industries Inc." in 1949. The company was located in Muncie, Indiana.

Background

Previous to the invention of Aladdin oil lamps, homesteads were lit by the flicking light of flat wick, oil and kerosene burning lamps. The invention of the round wick, non flickering Aladdin lamp (1908-1909) was therefore something of a break though in terms of how people were able to light their homes. Vintage Aladdin oil lamps offered a unique solution to the waning, flickering quality of light given off by traditional lamps. Using a round wick and an unusual earth mantle that could produce a similar quality of light to a 60 watt bulb when heated by the flame of the oil burning lamp; The Matle Lamp Company of America were so confident in the quality of their product that they offered a $1000 reward to any person who could create a lamp that produced a brighter glow. By 1930 over seven million Aladdin's had been sold, yet the reward remained unclaimed.

Mantle was a pioneer in modern sales techniques, giving away Aladdin lamps at their inception and later allowing customers to trade in old and outdated models for more contemporary ones.

Aladdin lamps were made in a variety of styles, with the earliest models made from either brass or nickel plated brass. There were several types of metal lamps available, including table lamps, bracket lamps and singularly attractive hanging lamps. During the 1930s and 1940s, the company manufactured lamps from coloured glass - including the tall Lincoln drape Aladdin lamps in the sought after shades of ruby crystal and cobalt blue.

The best selling lamp in the history of Aladdin Inc. was the "Alacite" tall Lincoln drape. Alactie was Aladdin's trade mark material and resembled ivory in both colour and texture. Moonstone glass was also unique to Aladdin lamps and was so named because the glass itself appeared to glow like the pale moon when illuminated from within. The glowing quality of moonstone is as popular with collectors now as it was to Aladdin customers during the 1930s.

Some collector's consider the Aladdin lamp to be an epitaph for a way of life which ended long ago.

Aladdin Inc. also manufactured several unusual electric lights following the advent of age of electricity.

Collector's guide

Kerosene Mantle lamps

Kerosene Mantle lamps are portable, smokeless, odourless, noiseless lamps which require no pumping up. These vintage Aladdin lamps were the last of their kind ever manufactured on mass.

The Aladdin lamp produces four times more light per gallon of kerosene than wick lamps-equivalent to 60 candlepower of white light. Wick lamps produce light by the process of burning kerosene with a large flame. These lamps are essentially liquid fuelled candles with bigger wicks.

The Aladdin mantle glows with a brilliant white light. In terms of the amount of light produced, the incandescent mantle is far more efficient than a wick lamp. The mantle, which is made of a special mixture of rare earth oxides, produces light by a process called incandescence. Incandescence is the same process by which electric light bulbs produce light, without destroying the element producing the incandescence.

Careful observation will reveal the small blue flame below the mantle, not the yellow flame of an ordinary wick lamp. This blue flame produces a high heat because of the burner design, thereby making the mantle glow and emit white light.

You can often spot an Aladdin because the chimney is slim and taller than used on most other lamps. The tall chimney creates a draft to draw more air needed to make strong light and create the efficient 4% fuel, 96 % air combustion mix.

With proper care, an Aladdin kerosene lamp can last a lifetime, as attested by the large number of "antique" Aladdin lamps still in use today. Collectors seek all models of Aladdins beginning with the first lamps sold in 1908 through Model 23 which is made today. The model number is located on the wick raising knob.

Identifying vintage Aladdin oil lamps

Vintage Aladdin oil lamps come in may sizes and a variety of colours and designs. Lamps made by the Mantle Company (later renamed "Aladdin Inc.") are generally more collectible and valuable then lamps made by other, less well known manufacturers.

Commonly the Aladdin-Muncie lamp has a cast iron base embossed with the name under the bottom. Paper labels were also used. The glass shades were reverse painted and were not marked or signed. Most of these shades were created with water soluble paints and were not permanently fired. Collectors should take great care when cleaning the glass shade of an Aladdin oil lamp as they are very easily damaged.

Parlour lamps

The company introduced a limited range of parlour lamps in August 2007. These special parlour lamps are available in both Japanese Bronze and polished brass finishes. Sales of Japanese Bronze lamps in kerosene only version were limited to 2008 and there were no more sales after December 2008. The commemorative lamps are designated as Model 23A with a unique, large round wick knob.

Four artichoke shades were also offered in white opal, emerald green, ruby red and golden amber. Rims have been fired smooth and every shade has a decal fired inside, marking it as genuine Aladdin.
The lamp base rests flat on the table without the antique feet required for the 1908 model. Although these lamps are contemporary, they are coveted by collectors of vintage Aladdin lamps as so few were sold over such a short period.

Price guide

A B-77 tall Lincoln drape ruby crystal Aladdin lamp with complete & working model B burner and 3 line chimney sold at Tom Harris Auctions in July 2005 for $800.

An Aladdin B-76 cobalt blue Lincoln drape lamp sold for $750 at Tom Harris Auctions in December 2012.

A B-62 short Lincoln drape ruby crystal Aladdin sold for $700 at Tom Harris Auctions in July 2005.

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