Antique Oil Burning Lamps Eagle

Saturday, December 04th, 2010 | Author:

The Antique Betty Lamp

Lamps in the olden times were not as fancy and classy looking as the ones we find today in many different homes. This is simply because we are lucky to have electricity, and 100 watt bulbs, while the people of the olden days had no such thing. They used lamps made of clay, which burnt oil, small pieces of wood, grease and leftovers of fat, i.e. simply what was on hand. As improvements came about in life, copper and iron became a substitute for clay.

However, even then, the lamps gave off too much of smoke, odor, and leaked oil and grease, so that it fell drop by drop on the objects placed below. This was because of the fact that the wicks in these lamps were of cloth. These lamps absorbed oil more quickly than it would burn, and the extra absorbed would then leak.

The Betty lamp was an invention during the colonial times, which took away many of the problems associated with lightning. It had a wicker holder at its base, allowing the oil which dripped to run back into the bowl, and be consumed again. Further improvements were made when the lamp was covered. This reduced the smoke, and maximized the burning of the oil.

Different forms of the lamp were invented. Some were made of metal; some had oval or round sides. Many had rods attached, which would fetch the wick if it dropped into the oil.

As more and more people became aware of the usefulness of the invention, the American colonials began using the lamp as the primary source of light. Sometimes the Betty lamp was hung from a lamp stand that was on a counter or an elevated iron stand that rested on the floor. Another technique of elevating the Betty lamp was placing it on a turned wood or tin pedestal that sat on the table. The lamp then elucidated the work surface or reading material of the person sitting there.

The word Betty was originated from the word besser which means better. The lamp was selected for the Logo of the American Home Economics Association, because it symbolized light. In the olden days, when the source of lightning was improper, the Betty lamp gave homes the much needed lightning. Therefore, it was chosen as the appropriate symbol for the Association. Even after the Associations name was changed to American Association of Family and Consumer Services, the logo was continued to be used.

The Betty lamp was accepted as the symbol of learning. It symbolizes the following:

The need of exact knowledge
The blessing of fellowship
The value of service
The appreciation of beauty
The spirit of joy
The power of strength
The satisfaction of achievement
The bond of cooperation

Since then, the Betty lamp has become a collectors item, and the original lamps which were used in the homes have been put into museums, and restored. Betty lamps are being made today but now most people burn olive oil, vegetable oil, or kerosene in them. They are popular with living history buffs. Many people who want to give their homes a colonial touch buy the imitation lamps from shops which sell lights and lamps.

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