Betty Lamp / Fluid Lamp early 19th century with Candle
If you enjoy the history in regards to early lighting pieces this next exciting offering will be of interest to you. This Betty or fluid lamp fashioned from sheet iron was used around the turn of the 19th century up until the mid-1800’s as new modern oils such as kerosene were being introduced.
This piece will add instant early charm to your home whether it is hung from a mantle, the back of a ladder-back chair or even from an old cupboard!
Early lighting pieces actually evolved through the years and time lines for these devices are pretty accurate. The only problem is everyone seems to call most lamps a “Betty” or “fat lamp” when in reality this may not be true. I can certainly attest that it does get a little confusing at times but research is the key ingredient here.
One of the predecessor’s to this piece was the single valve, four point cruise lamp that possessed 4 slanted channels where the wicks would be laid. The problem with this particular style of lamp was the fat drippings that fell onto the floor, as this piece would have been hung. To remedy this situation, a double lamp was made so the fat drippings could be caught underneath instead.
This style of lamp probably had an exact counterpart piece made to fit inside that had a cover. However this fluid lamp was used as the bottom piece that would catch the fat drippings as there is no evidence a cover even existed.
The elongated spout (wick receptacle) would have held a long wick that would lay in the bottom to draw up the whale or fish oil while the rest of the wick would protrude out from the top and therefore embody the flame. Iron lamps could accommodate fat or grease (as a fuel) because of the heavy material used to fashion them. Fat had to liquefy in order for the flame to stay lit and because iron is a heat conductor the fat could be kept in a liquefied state. Sheet iron on the other hand is quite different so the fuel for this lamp would have been lighter and could not solidify.
Most of these lamps had a single round or double square shaped reflector but what is puzzling is these pieces were placed at the very top where the flame would seem to have a hard time reaching it to gain the reflector capabilities. These pieces may have just been decorative as some of these lamp examples have a circle of raised dots acting as a simple design.
Most of these tin lamps do have surface rust which is very common considering their age and this piece is no exception. I have seen a lot worse! All of the tin edges have been neatly folded over using precision and skill. There is an area on the back where the vertical tin piece meets the back of the holder that may have been re-soldered at one point as shown in images 3 & 6. A small black spot is located just to the left, in the middle area of the reflector but has been there quite some time.
This fluid lamp is in good condition without any dents, holes or creases present. I am including a handmade candle as this lamp can also be used as a candle-holder because the cost of candles compared to centuries ago are a heck of a lot cheaper!! I collect early lighting pieces such as this one and really enjoy these amazing, surviving examples throughout our home and hope you will too! Be careful though as these sought after pieces can become addicting!! Enjoy!
Fluid lamp stands a little over 8” tall, top reflector measures 2 ½” across (right to left), fluid holder measures 2 ½” across (right to left) and stands 1” tall. Wick receptacle measures 1 ¼” and is about ¼” thickness. Candle stands 2” tall by ¾” thick.
~Freight (Standard Mail) included, however Insurance is optional and can be purchased @ checkout ~ within the continental U.S.