Historical information

This is a typical example of a flat wick domestic paraffin lamp used in households prior to the introduction of electricity.


A flat-wick lamp is a simple type of paraffin lamp, which burns paraffin drawn up through a wick by capillary action. A flat-wick lamp has a fuel tank (fount), with the lamp burner attached. Attached to the fuel tank, four prongs hold the glass chimney, which acts to prevent the flame from being blown out and enhances a thermally induced draft. The glass chimney needs a "throat", or slight constriction, to create the proper draft for complete combustion of the fuel; the draft carries more air (oxygen) past the flame, helping to produce a smokeless light, which is brighter than an open flame would produce.
The wick holder has holes around the outer edges. When the lantern is lit and a chimney is attached, the thermally induced draft draws air through these holes and passes over the top of the wick. This has a cooling effect and keeps the wick from over heating. The lamp burner has a flat wick, made of cotton. The lower part of the wick dips into the fount and absorbs the paraffin; the top part of the wick extends out of the wick tube of the lamp burner, which includes a wick-adjustment mechanism. Adjusting how much of the wick extends above the wick tube controls the flame. The wick tube surrounds the wick and ensures that the correct amount of air reaches the lamp burner. Adjustment is usually done by means of a small knob operating a cric, which is a toothed metal sprocket bearing against the wick. If the wick is too high, and extends beyond the burner cone at the top of the wick tube, the lamp will produce smoke and soot (unburned carbon). When the lamp is lit, the paraffin that the wick has absorbed burns and produces a clear, bright, yellow flame. As the paraffin burns, capillary action in the wick draws more kerosene up from the fuel tank. All paraffin flat-wick lamps use the dead-flame burner design, where the flame is fed cold air from below, and hot air exits above. (Source: Wikipedia accessed 24 Nov 2023)

Physical description

This lantern has a circular heavy green glass base for holding the paraffin. The base has a 12mm green glass handle. There is a small clear glass chimney with a fluted upper edge and some bubbles in the glass. The metal burner and wick holder has four metal prongs to hold the glass chimney in place. The round metal wick winder is functioning. There is a small amount of residual paraffin in the base. The flat wick is made of cotton.

Inscriptions & markings

There are no markings to indicate the manufacturer.