Dating oil lamps
These early fonts also tended to have simple patterns which were then roughened on a lathe to produce a frosted effect on the high points.Lamps of this style were used extensively as props in the movie “Gone with the Wind” but this is not historically correct.Lamps of every type, from the early oil-burning Betty and Phoebe lamps to the recent electric lamps with glass or beaded shades, interest collectors.Fuels used in lamps changed through the years; whale oil (1800-1840), camphene (1828), Argand (1830), lard (1833-1863), solar (1843-1860s), turpentine and alcohol (1840s), gas (1850-1879), kerosene (1860), and electricity (1879) are the most common. Other lamps are listed by manufacturer or type of material.
Composite oil lamps were popular between the 1880s and the early 1900s.
Generally the figures are cast spelter or occasionally cast iron.
The original finishes would have been bronze, gilt or black.
The bases are predominately soapstone or cast iron though occasionally marble bases were used.
A characteristic of the earlier fonts used with figural oil lamps is the extended shoulder style collars which cover much of the top of the font.