This 18th Century tin “Betty Lamp” or oil lamp is an interesting and rarely seen piece. Tin oil lamps were the earliest and most common form of lighting in America dating from the mid 1600′s to the late 1700′s. The pan would have been filled with a grease or oil such as whale oil, fish oil or a vegetable oil. As colonists yearned for more lighting in their homes, there became a desire for 2 wick, 3 wick and even 4 wick oil lamps. The idea was, of course, that more wicks burning produced more light. The wick was placed in the nose of the pan and would fuel the flame by soaking up the oil in the pan. This early and unique form features a lid or cover that encloses the pan only to reveal the nose with the burning wick. It is also rather unique as it sits on a table having a drip pan at the bottom as opposed to the hanging grease lamps which were more common. However this grease lamp also has a decorative finial that doubles as a hanger, adding to its uniqueness, so it could be utilized on a table or hung. Also note that the crimped base and tubular column that support the lamp are a common form typically seen on a “Tidy” which was a stand that would support a single Betty lamp. This is indeed a fascinating and interesting piece of lighting that offers so much character and even more history. Stands 14″ tall.
18th Century Four Wick Oil Lamp SOLD