Natural lamps made from oily animals.
3 1 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm

Natural lamps made from oily animals.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Oily animals could easily be converted into natural lamps by threading a wick through their bodies. First Nation peoples of Vancouver Island, Canada, for example, dried oily fish and held them in cleft sticks, lighting the wick protruding from the mouth, while Shetland Islanders used stormy petrels in the same way. In the West Indies fireflies were sometimes caught and held in bamboo cages. In the foreground is a piece of torch, composed of four pieces of wax-covered tow, said to have been used to light Nelson's funeral procesion in January 1806.

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