Whale oil and camphene lamps, 1835-1845.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 23cm x 32cm

Whale oil and camphene lamps, 1835-1845.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


The example on the right is a pewter single vertical wick whale-oil lamp, while on the left is a two wick lamp intended for burning camphene. Camphene enjoyed popularity between 1830 and 1850 in the United States. Caps for the wick-spouts were necesary as the volatile mixture of turpentine and alcohol would otherwise have evaporated. For lighting, whale oil was inferior only to the best seed oils and a flourishing whaling industry operated from the coasts of the United States, bringing in over a million gallons of oil each year.

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