Adventures in Antiquing: Dating My Newest Old Oil Lamps

We did a bit of antiquing yesterday while we were in town. I wanted to find a few more oil lamps to go with my growing collection and I’m happy to report I wasn’t disappointed!

The big antique store we like to visit had quite a few, so we had a wide variety to choose from. Luckily most of them were priced very well and we bought three for under $100. I don’t know a lot about oil lamps, but I could tell they were all quite old. I suspected they were at least 50 to 100 years old, in fact.

And I was right!

It’s relatively easy to date them. You first look at the little metal knob that turns the wick up and down because that’s usually where you’ll find the maker’s mark. On newer ones, like the one I recently ordered on Amazon, it’s pretty obvious that they aren’t old just from the wear pattern.

Sometimes it’s not so easy to read them and it’s obvious they’ve been well used, though! Which could indicate that they are antique.

Of course there are some that are “antiqued” on purpose so you have to do your homework. This one was the hardest to read and it turns out it is probably the oldest in the group. It was made by Plume & Atwood Manufacturing in Waterbury, CT and was most likely made sometime in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.

It’s not in working condition but that’s okay, I just wanted it for looks anyway (it’s the one on the left here).

Here’s an up close of the knob:

The one on the right was also made by the same company but much later, probably in the 1950s which still makes it old, but technically not antique.

The one in the back was a little easier to nail down a date for. The knob didn’t give much indication of who made it; it just says “Made in the USA” with a star in the middle.

The burner itself, however, has the name of the company stamped on it so that helped…

Lucky for me someone else has already done the hard work to find the origins of this maker and gave a date of around 1906-1929.

So these are all considered either vintage or antique based on their dates, that is if the bases are original to the burners. There’s a small chance they have been swapped out, but it’s hard to say. One of them has an air bubble in it which indicates it’s probably quite old.

And even though it has a seam indicating it was made from a mold doesn’t rule out being from the 1800’s since glass molds were used in manufacturing that far back, from what I read.

No matter their ages, I love all my oil lamps and will continue to collect them.

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