Monday, August 14, 2006

Oil Lamp Evolution


In 1784 Aime Argand, a Swiss chemist, developed and patented the Argand lamp. This design featured a flat wick formed into a cylinder around a central air tube which boosted the burning efficiency of the lamp. By placing a glass chimney above the wick, an updraft was created which enhanced the brightness of the flame.

The wick would draw vegetable oil which flowed from a reservoir or font, mounted above the level of the burner. This type of gravity-feed principle was in use until 1859.

With the development of thinner, lower viscosity kerosene it was possible to put the burner above the fuel, drawing the fuel up a wick.

Kerosene (paraffin) came into use in 1859. Being a much lighter oil, it could be drawn up a wick, thus the font could be situated below the burner.

As well as embracing the Argand principle, other developments included Hinks duplex burner in 1865 in Birmingham, England. The Hinks double flat burner system also had an extinguisher lever.

Each innovation produced a greater light output.

At almost the same time that the Hinks duplex burner was becoming popular in England, in 1865 the Cosmos type of round burner was invented by Wild & Wessel in Berlin.

This design produced much more light than the Hinks duplex burners, so the round style of burner rapidly replaced the double/duplex burner.