Exciting Early Lighting Single Valve Four Point Cruise Lamp
Early lighting pieces such as this simple and crude example are a testament to what our ancestors used centuries ago to provide light inside their homes. These interesting pieces seem to welcome an early look within our homesteads without delay by lending charm and primitive ambiance. This single valve four point cruise lamp dates from 1770 to the 1820 period and precedes the ingenious invention of the Betty Lamp.
This particular piece of lighting is also known as a grease or fat lamp that would have held fat or fish oils. The four corner wick channels would accommodate a piece of twisted cotton that would absorb the fuel (grease) from the reservoir in order for it to burn. These lighting pieces always came with a wick pick that lazily dangles from a chain to help push the wick forward to keep the flame alive as shown in images 16, 17, 18 & 19.
This simple lamp was hand forged and lends a surprise compared to other crusies. The top edge has whispers of decoration that simulate a sawtooth pattern which also presents two raised areas defining a reversed “V” design located on all four sides as shown in images 8, 9 & 10. There is also another area near the pin as shown in image 11 that exhibits a soft design element of diagonal notches implemented by a blacksmith and is limited to the right hand side only. The opposing left side area may have had this same simple design but factoring in the age and wear to this piece it is no longer visible. Each of the forged pins were peened to secure the handle to the base as referenced in images 11 and 12. Design features on this type of cruise are not commonly found and may indicate this lighting device to have roots stemming from the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Originally this lamp would have been hung from the first circular ring that connects to a rod below and is one solid piece. This piece then slips into the hole provided on the top of the handle location as shown in image 3. The end of the rod shows a thicker piece of truncated iron that prevents the rod from exiting this hole when in a hanging position. An elongated and tapered piece of iron that represents the wick pick located on the end of the twisted chain and ring hanger willingly dangles off the side of the lamp. It enabled the user to grab the pick at will and use it to adjust the four wicks on a frequent basis. Another unique feature worth mentioning is the pick also has a small iron hook located at the top where the ring is attached as shown in image 20.
This great piece is in good condition without any cracks, breaks or loss to report. The dark patina is delicious and so is the larger form compared to other smaller versions. You can hang this from a mantle, off of a cupboard shelf or what about utilizing a shaker peg as well. This is just a wonderful piece of early lighting to own either for a new or seasoned collector! Enjoy!
**Side Note: Being an early lighting collector myself, I really enjoy these interesting examples when they become available as these “keepers of light” all possess a succession for change and evolved as time moves forward. On a word of caution, one has to be careful as there are several reproduction pieces out there that can fool a beginner. My advice is to purchase these pieces from a reputable dealer who has knowledge and can identify reproductions from the originals. There are several books on this subject that may be worth investing in but it can be complicated as each author seems to have his own language as far as what pieces are called and the parts that make up the construction. Be patient and take as much time as you need and I assure you the information is well worth learning as this will empower you to be a successful collector. Have fun!!!
Lamp stands 4 ¼” tall, measures 3 ¼” across middle area (right to left), measures 4 ½” across (end of channel to end of channel), measures 3” deep (middle area) and measures 4 ½” deep (end of front channel to end of back channel). Wick pick and chain measure 11 ¼” long.
~Freight (Standard Mail) included, however Insurance is optional and can be purchased @ checkout ~ within the continental U.S.