Pair of annular wick Argand lamps, c 1800.
3 1 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm

Pair of annular wick Argand lamps, c 1800.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


The first revolutionary improvement in lamp design since early times was made by Ami Argand (b 1755) of Geneva, while working in France in 1782-1784. He bent a wider wick into a circle and allowed air to reach the inside of the flame along a central tube, permitting improved combustion. A reservoir, usually vase-shaped, held the oil. Argand's smokeles lamp gave up to twelve times the light previously obtainable from a simple wick like a piece of string, but the oil consumption was correspondingly high.

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