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lamps-msg - 1/14/08


Medieval lamps and lamps for SCA use.


NOTE: See also these files: lighting-msg, candles-msg, candlesticks-msg, flt-wick-lmps-art, firestarting-msg, Med-Lighting-lnks, p-petroleum-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: bear at thebox (Walt Wilson)

Date: 5 Apr 91 21:12:33 GMT


00mjstum at bsu-ucs.uucp (Matthew J. Stum) writes:


> Portable outdoor lighting is the subject...


> What was the "medieval" equivelent to a flashlight?  Were torches used?

> If so, does anyone have any good "recipes" for making long-lasting

> (dripless) torches?

> --

>    .                  /                | Matt Stum

>   . .                /                 | 00MJSTUM at BSUVAX1.BITNET

> |/-\/-\ |/-\ |/-\   /    |/-\ |/-\/-\  | 00MJSTUM at bsu-ucs.bsu.edu

> |  /  / |  / |  /   \__/ |  / |  /  /  |

>         |    |           |             | Ball State University, Muncie IN USA

>         |    |           |/\/          | VAX Systems Programmer


A spanking good pitch torch, I would imagine, or if inside, a large-wick

candle in a polished semi-protective holder.  The torch might make you very

unpopular and the candle has a nasty habit of dribbling hot wax.  This is

one of the places where anachronism can be invoked for safety.  Use the

flashlight or (with a grin) place a LUME STICK in your candle holder.





From: trifid at agora.rain.com (Roadster Racewerks)

Date: 8 Apr 91 22:34:34 GMT

Organization: Open Communications Forum


Despite having previously generated more heat than light on this subject :-) I

do actually know something about it. Good indoor candle lighting (well, in-camp)

can be made of polished metal. The piece behind the candle should be highly

polished (yes, the reflective surface does actually help) and bent so as to

somewhat focus the light (study up on your Greek mathematicians, gentles!). It

should have a reservoir for dripping wax, as wax is not only messy (and hot!)

it was precious in period, not to be wasted! (Also, after the wax becomes fluid,

if you have a proper wick it will burn in that state, saving the unmelt candle.)

A shield of this sort also helps protect the flame against drafts. I believe the

Italians, at least, may have also used lenses to magnify the light, but such a

device reduced to personal size (I think it was used in faroes...) would have

been rare and quite expensive. (In period I *think* these may have been used on

board ships.) Do not use puny wicks that cannot hold together long enough to

burn the melted wax, but instead drown in it... I am told "hurricane" lamps are

post-period, though it seems hard to believe the simple idea of a glass shield

would have been unknown. (Perhaps only rare and fragile?) Anyone know of

documentation on this subject?


Pitch torches and rushlights strike me as possibly dangerous among a populace

who haven't grown up around them, or seen relatives die horrid, lingering deaths

from (per-antibiotics) burns. I wouldn't want to be camped within a stadia of an

inebriate with a torch! And I've never seen a rushlight-holder in the Society.


Elaine, perpetually in the dark, NicMaoilan

trifid at agora.rain.com



From: DRS at UNCVX1.BITNET ("Dennis R. Sherman")

Date: 14 Apr 91 15:22:00 GMT


Someone suggested that hurricane lamps are such a simple concept they must

have been used in period.  Sorry, probably not so.  I can find no evidence

for a glass chimney in use prior to 1600 (or even 1650). Candles used

outdoors must have either flickered and gone out a lot, or must have been

in a candle lantern.  Candle lanterns were made of pierced metal (tin or

steel) or of a metal (wrought iron, gold, silver, bronze, latten) or wood

frame, with openings of glass or horn.  There are extant candle lanterns

that are decorated with cabochons of crystal that apparrently allow the

light to pass through them.  A bulls-eye type lantern was used in period.


A possible source of a candle-like light is a float lamp - a vessel

partially filled with water, oil floating on the water, and a wick floating

(and burning) on that.  There are extant float lamps and illustrations of

float lamps in use outdoors.  Some of these are glass, and could have been

left sufficiently empty of fluids that the wick would have been below the

top edge of the vessel, thus shielding it from wind. Float lamps typically

were hung, although some were apparently carved out of the tops of stones

in garden walls.  These last obviously weren't transparent :-).


My guess (note - _guess_!) is that glass forming technology was up to

making more-or-less conical vessels (which could be used as float lamps),

but not up to making a cylinder open at both ends for a hurricane-lamp type



     Robyyan Torr d'Elandris                Dennis R. Sherman

     Kapellenberg, Windmaster's Hill        Chapel Hill, NC

     Atlantia                               drs at uncvx1.bitnet



From: sbloch at euler.ucsd.edu (Steve Bloch)

Date: 16 Apr 91 16:36:23 GMT


DRS at UNCVX1.BITNET ("Dennis R. Sherman" (Robyyan Torr d'Elandris)) writes:

>My guess (note - _guess_!) is that glass forming technology was up to

>making more-or-less conical vessels (which could be used as float lamps),

>but not up to making a cylinder open at both ends for a hurricane-lamp type



The way you make a cylinder open at both ends is to make a "less"

conical vessel, scratch it with something really hard and sharp all

the way around near the closed end, apply a little delta-t to crack

the joint (but not enough to remelt the glass), and tap the closed

end, which (with practice :-) obligingly falls off.  This is not

complicated.  If need be, you can do without the delta-t, at a some-

what lower success rate.


What I suspect period glass forming technology wasn't up to making is

large pieces of glass that both were thin enough to be transparent and

wouldn't crack under the temperature changes to which a lantern

chimney is subject.  Small "windows" in the side of a candle lantern

should be no problem, nor would a heavy bowl or goblet (which,

however, would suffer in transmitivity) suitable for a float lamp.


Stephen Bloch

Joshua ibn-Eleazar ha-Shalib


sbloch at math.ucsd.edu



From: Bonnie_Dunn.CSUMAIL at qmbridge.calstate.EDU (Bonnie Dunn)

Date: 14 May 91 12:27:23 GMT


                       Subject:                              Time:8:14 AM

  OFFICE MEMO          Period Flashlights                    Date:5/14/91


Greetings unto the gentles of the Rialto and to the lady who brought up the

topic of period flashlights.


I have a similar eye condition and a recently recovered back/neck injury.  I

have no wish to trip over *anything* in the dark.


I believe I found a safe compromise in an 8 hour candle lantern sold through

REI Outdoor Gear catalog.  Considering I was approached by *many* people at my

last SCA camping event for the source of my light, I am assuming that they were

not offensive, albiet, not 'period'.


The REI catalog just came so I can provide the information to anyone who might

be interested:


"REI Candle Lantern.  Provides light and heat up to 8 hours per candle - no

drips, noise or batteries.  Measures only 4-l/2" x 2" when closed, opens to

10".  Spring load system keeps candle at consistent height.  Glass globe.  Av.

wt. 7.5 oz.


  E-410-120  Aluminum  $13.75

  E-410-140  Brass         $18.75


Package of 3 candles:


  E-410-128                     $1.90


Cloth case

  E-410-125                     $2.50


Lantern Reflector (snaps onto lantern to reflect light)

  E-410-139                    $3.00


1-800-426-4840 to Order."  (Disclaimer:  I benefit in no way by providing this



Since I shall be at Pennsic this year, you may spot this lantern after dark.


Meghan McMahon

aka Brid ui Con na Mara

Gyldenholt, Caid




Subj: illumination, i.e. light

Date: 16 Jun 92

From: SHERMAN%TRLN.DECnet at uncvx1.acs.unc.EDU ("Dennis R. Sherman")

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca


Greetings to the Rialto from Robyyan.


I just saw a posting today that quoted a posting requesting

information about lighting.  Either I missed the original posting, or

it will come in tomorrow's Digests.  In any case...


I've been researching domestic lighting for quite some time now - I'm

intending to do a Compleat Anachronist issue on it, but I'm _way_

beyond the deadline I'd set for myself.  Too much data, along with

other obligations.  In any case, I'll gladly answer specific questions

if I can (email certain to get a response, I may miss postings), and

included below is a bibliography for those interested in doing their

own research.


Allemagne, Henry Rene d' ;

  Histoire du luminaire depuis l'epoque romaine jusqu'au XIXe siecle ;

  Paris : A Picard 1891.


Benesch, Ladislaus Edler von. ;

  Das Beleuchtungswesen vom Mittelalter bis zur Mitte des XIX

Jahrhundert ;

  : .


Benesch, Ladislaus Edler von., tr. Leroy Thwing ;

  Old lamps of central Europe and other lighting devices ;

  : C E Tuttle Co 1963.


Heintschel, Hella & Maria Dawid ;

  Lampen, Leuchter, Laternen seit der Antike ;

  Innsbruck : Pinguin Verlag 1975.


Cooke, Lawrence S, ed. ;

  Lighting in America from Colonial Rushlights to Victorian

Chandeliers ;

  New York : Main Street/Universe Books 1975.


Corporation of London, ed. Henry Thomas Riley ;

  Memorials of London and London Life, in the XIIth, XIVth, and XVth

  centuries. ;

  London : Longmans Green and Co 1868.


Cristiani, Richard S. ;

  A technical treatise on soap and candles; with a glance at the


  of fats and oils ;

  Philadelphia : H C Baird 1881.


Daw, Robert H ;

  By candlelight: candleholders and related lighting fixtures from

  ca. 1200 BC through the nineteenth century ;

  Topeka, KA : Topeka public library 1973.


Dummelow, John ;

  The Wax Chandlers of London; a short history of the Worshipful

  Company of Wax Chandlers ;

  Chichester : Phillimore 1973.


Falke, Otto von ;

  Romanische Leuchter und Gefasse: Giessgefasse der Gotik ;

  Berlin ? : Verlag fur Kunstwissenschaft 1983.


Gould, George Glen, and Mrs Florence Gould ;

  Period lighting fixtures ;

  New York : Dodd Mead & Company 1928.


Hayward, Arthur H. ;

  Colonial and Early American Lighting ;

  New York : Dover Publications Inc 1962.


Hebard, Helen Brigham ;

  Early Lighting in New England ;

  Rutland, VT : Charles E Tuttle Company 1964.


Hedemann Baagoe, J. ;

  Lamper og lysestager; belysningen gennem tiderne ;

  : .


Homburger, Otto Sigmund ;

  Der Trivulzio-Kandelaber; ein Meisterwerk fruhgotischer Plastik ;

  : Verlag 1949.


Wheeler, Sir Mortimer ;

  Pompeii and Herculaneum ;

  London : Spring Books 1966.


Cockayne, Rev. Thomas Oswald, tr. and ed. ;

  Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England, being a

  collection of documents, for the most part never before ... ;

  London : Longman Green Longman &c 1865.


Luckiesh, Matthew ;

  Torch of civilization; the story of man's conquest of darkness ;

  New York : G P Putnam's Sons 1940.


Mariacher, Giovanni ;

  Illuminazione in Italia dal Quattrocento al'Ottocento ;

  Milano : A Vallardi 1965.


Michaelis, Ronald F. ;

  Old domestic base-metal candlesticks from the 13th to 19th century ;

  Woodbridge, Eng : Antique Collectors' Club 1978.


Monier-Williams, M.F., ed. ;

  Records of the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers ;

  London : Cheswick Press 1897.


Monier-Williams, Randall ;

  The Tallow Chandlers of London, vol 1-4 ;

  London : Kaye & Ward 1970-77.


Norton, C A Quincy ;

  Catalogue of the Norton collection of antique historical lamps ;

  New York : S L Parsons & Co Inc 1914.


O'Dea, W.T. ;

  Lighting: Early oil lamps, candles ;

  London : Her Majesty's Stationery Offic 1966.


O'Dea, William T ;

  The social history of lighting ;

  London : Routledge and Paul Ltd 1958.


Penzel, Frederick ;

  Theatre lighting before electricity ;

  Middletown, CT : Wesleyan University Press 1978.


Robins, Frederick William ;

  The story of the Lamp (and the candle) ;

  London, New York : Oxford University Press 1939.


Schneider-Flagmeyer, Michael ;

  Der mittelalterliche Osterleuchter in Suditalien : ein Beitrag zu

... ;

  New York : P Lang 1986.


Stanislaus, Ignatius Valerius Stanley ;

  American Soap Maker's Guide; an up to date treatise on the art and

  science of the manufacture of soaps, candles, and ... ;

  New York : Henry Carey Baird & Co Inc 1928.


Taylor, Richard ;

  Beeswax molding and candle making: a guide to the refinement and use

  of beeswax in candle making, completely illustrated. ;

  Naples, NY : Walnut Press 1974?.


The Rushlight Club ;

  Early Lighting, A Pictorial Guide ;

  Hartford, CT : Finlay Brothers Inc 1979.


Thwing, Leroy ;

  Flickering Flames; A History of Domestic Lighting through the Ages ;

  Rutland, VT : Charles E Tuttle Company 1958.


Wells, Stanley ;

  Period Lighting ;

  London : Pelham Books Ltd 1975.


Chisholm, K Lomneth ;

  The Candlemaker's Primer ;

  New York : E P Dutton & Co Inc 1973.


Wechssler-Kummel, S, Marie-Claire Thiebaud, tr. ;

  Chandeliers Lampes et Appliques de Style ;

  Fribourg : Office du Livre 1963.



* Robyyan Torr d'Elandris  Kapellenberg, Windmaster's Hill Atlantia *


* Dennis R. Sherman              Triangle Research Libraries Network *

* dennis_sherman at unc.edu       Univ. of North Carolina - Chapel Hill *




From: nusbache at epas.utoronto.ca (Aryk Nusbacher)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Pennsic lighting (was: Pennsic tips)

Date: 14 May 1994 21:10:26 GMT

Organization: EPAS Computing Facility, University of Toronto


In article <mjc.768776026 at NL.CS.CMU.EDU>,

Monica Cellio <mjc+ at cs.cmu.edu> wrote:


>Can anyone offer suggestions for safe, effective, non-annoying ways of

>providing substantial amounts of light for those of us who have vision



Ever try oil lamps? I have a very clever ceramic oil lamp that is

essentially a flask with a pierced stopper through which a wick is

strung.  Yet simpler ones can be made by making a pinch pot, and

folding two sides inward like two folds on a tricorne hat. The corner

made by the two folded sides holds a wick, and the bottom is filled

with oil.  Reed lamps can also be made pretty simply, though they are

a bit more complicated than a simple clay lamp.


Aryk Nusbacher



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: KGORMAN at ARTSPAS.watstar.uwaterloo.ca

Subject: Re: Pennsic lighting (was: Pennsic tips)

Organization: University of Waterloo

Date: Mon, 16 May 1994 14:49:45 GMT


In article <2r3eo2$969 at alpha.epas.utoronto.ca> nusbache at epas.utoronto.ca (Aryk Nusbacher) writes:

>Ever try oil lamps? I have a very clever ceramic oil lamp that is

>essentially a flask with a pierced stopper through which a wick is

>strung.  Yet simpler ones can be made by making a pinch pot, and

>folding two sides inward like two folds on a tricorne hat.  The corner

>made by the two folded sides holds a wick, and the bottom is filled

>with oil.  Reed lamps can also be made pretty simply, though they are

>a bit more complicated than a simple clay lamp.


Having used oil lamps in non-SCA contexts I would consider them a danger at

War especially when moving and especially if children are involved.  If an

oil lamp is knocked over the oil escapes leaving flamable stuff everywhere

for the next person who strikes a match.  If the lamp is lit when it is

knocked over you have an instant fire.  Walking down a Pennsic road you

could easily trip, be knocked by someone, or catch a branch on the side.





From: chanu1lb at ink.ORG (Chanute Public Library)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Pennsic lighting

Date: 13 May 1994 14:17:35 -0400


Ellisif wanted improvements on using flashlights and flourescent lights

for lighting.

I had this idea several years ago and have been unable to find parts, or

interest anyone in manufacturing.

Small (6 inch) flourescent bulbs are available and I think a candle

lantern could be made to fit.  Use opaque (or almost opaque) plastic

instead of glass sheets to diffuse the light and add to safety.  Presto, a

"candle lantern" that puts out more light and is safe for long clothes and

children.  If someone could get the electronic componants I think this

could be a big seller at the war.


chanu1lb at ink.org



From: powers at cis.ohio-state.edu (william thomas powers)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Pennsic lighting (was: Pennsic tips)

Date: 20 May 1994 09:15:22 -0400

Organization: The Ohio State University, Department of Computer and Information Science


From a previous post from someone who is shy?

i use a candle lantern that has mirrors for the back two sides....puts

out plenty of light, and doesn't blow out.


This is one of the great secrets of after dark strolling! Your Lantern

should have at least 1 opaque side.  When you walk, you keep  the

opaque side toward yourself. This prevents the latern from ruining

your night sight while even more clearly showing you the path.


Lanterns with all clear panes are made for camp illumination!


I buy cheap little candle lanterns that have a missing or broken

pane and replace it with a piece of polished aluminum usually

found in someone's armour scrap.  


wilelm the smith



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: rorice at silver.ucs.indiana.edu (rosalyn rice)

Subject: Re: Pennsic lighting (was: Pennsic tips)

Organization: Indiana University, Bloomington IN

Date: Fri, 20 May 1994 22:50:32 GMT


      Greetings from Lothar,


      I think that the important thing is that you don't use any fuel

which is potentially explosive. First of all kerosene and the like are OOP

(19th c. I believe), secondly they are dangerous if they vaporize.

      I use a small candle in an enclosed candle lantern. You can get cheap

parrafin candles and cut them down to fit a smaller, more convenient lantern.

For the amount of lighting you need at Pennsic half-a-dozen candles will be

more than enough (unless you're Therica)! In most cases, you won't need to

use the lantern for mor than about 45 min. per night as you are walking on

the roads. When you get to a camp, you blow out the lamp. When you need the

light again, light it with a match or a piece of tinder from the fire.

      I'm suprised that Robbyan hasn't weighed into this discussion, since

he wrote a CA pamphlet on period lighting.





From: glenn.murray at buckys.com (Glenn Murray)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject:  Pennsic lighting (was: Pennsic tips)

Date: Fri, 20 May 1994 15:19:00 GMT

Organization: Bucky's BBS (609)861-1131 * Dennisville, NJ


M>From: mjc+ at cs.cmu.edu (Monica Cellio)

>problems?  The solution I've developed over the years is to use one of

>those lights that has both a flourescent and an ordinary bulb, put an

>amber filter over the ordinary one (can't find anything that fits the

>flourescent), use the ordinary one except in emergencies, shield the

>flourescent with my hand if I have to use it, walk slowly, and not go

>into the woods or onto Runestone after dark. Improvements on this

>scheme would be *very* welcome.  (Something medieval would be wonderful,

>but a candle doesn't put out enough light for me.)


My wife has VERY BAD night blindness and we have found this to work

well for walking around pennsic:


Buy one of those Mini-Mag lights (we prefer the 2-AA size).  Use the

hole in the end to sew it into a fabric pouch that has NO bottom and is

held out with a fabric stiffener.  The beam is adjustable, the batteries

last a respectable amount of time and it can be kept on your belt till

needed looking period.


Osric the Confused

Shire of Barren Sands

East Kingdom



From: folo at prairienet.org (F.L. Watkins)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Pennsic lighting (was: Pennsic tips)

Date: 24 May 1994 21:53:19 GMT

Organization: University of Illinois at Urbana


Don't use paraffin candles. Use bees'wax candles. They burn

slower and don't leave the same amount of mess. If there are

any reenactments in your area, drop by and see if anyone is

selling them; we buy ours from a unit in the NWTA which

accumulates their stock during candle-dipping demos during

the day (all day, even in the hottest weather).


Yrs, Folo


Damin de Folo - F.L.Watkins - folo at prairienet.org

Baron Wurm Wald (MK) - Commander Baldwin's Reg't (NWTA)



From: NIELSEN at falcon.mayo.EDU

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Lighting at Pennsic

Date: 23 May 1994 11:29:45 -0400


Greetings unto the Rialto from Lady Therica!


Yes, indeed, I do enjoy a fair amount of lighting in my pavilion (hi, Lothar!).

But, as Siobhan mentioned, those of us with more than a single candle in our

fabric homes tend to do more than just sit there in the dark. I myself like

to sew, play harp, talk with my friends, cook, and most of all, enjoy the

ambience of candlelight.


One of my chandeliers is a period design --- approved by Robbyan, no less! ---

(the other two are just out of period), and luckily I've managed to acquire

two more of the period design chandeliers. (The not-quite period ones will be

staying home this year...gotta figure out something to do with them...).

I've also picked up 6 little square brass and glass lanterns for little

fat candles, perfect for hanging in the pavilion corners, tabletops, and

walking about. Along with my regular lanterns, and the ones I made for the

sun porch, and the oil lamps, I should be just about set. ;-)


I find myself keeping an eye out for candle sales throughout the year. After

Halloween I picked up 2 dozen orange (not the best color..) fat, medium height

candles for $2. After Christmas is a great time for red, white and green

candles. The tea light candles often go on sale throughout the year (and fit in

my little brass and glass lanterns quite well). They don't last but maybe a

night, but when you get them on sale...


To prevent my spare candles from melting during the day's heat, I keep them

(along with my lamp oil) in a spare cooler used for (non-edible) dry goods.

The cooler has a cushioned cover over it, making it look like a comfy small

bench. (Oh, wait --- am I giving away secrets here?) My first aid kit and

miscellaneous other modern stuff (extra sunscreen, extra matches, etc) go in

the cooler, too.


I find that when I sit in my pavilion with the candle and oil lanterns lit,

many friends will stop by and sit for a while, enjoying the ambience with me

and sharing stories. Can't ask for a better way to spend some time at Pennsic!




PS --- I've also found that candlelight is wonderful for warming up the

pavilion on those occassionally very cold nights at Pennsic. ;-)



From: axeher at aol.com (Axeher)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Oil Lamps

Date: 24 Feb 1995 11:23:37 -0500


You may wish to investigate the possiblity of an Elezar's Olive Oil lamp.

You can use the cheapest olive oil you can buy, and they are: 1)period, 2)

safe, as when they tip over you have an oil spill, and NOT a burning site,

3) soothing to the eyes and soul, 4) depending upon size, burn for

anywhere between 3 hours and 8.


I have seen ads for his lamps in my Kingdom newsletter, I think in TI, and

I know in Pyramid books and gifts catalogues.  You should be able to find

them in most New Age type stores, or you can contact me and I will get

their phone number so you can call and ask for a cataloque.  My lady is a

merchant, and we have been carrying his lamps for a year or so.  They have

become the primary lighting source in our pavillion, and we love them.  


Best of luck to you,

Lady Huma'i al'Rashida al'Baghdadiyya



From: Axeher at aol.com (3/2/95)

To: markh at sphinx

RE>Oil Lamps


Good M'Lord, I thank you for your patience in awaiting my reply to request

for information on Elazar's address.  Now that my newsletter has arrived, I

have the information to pass on to you.  


Elazar's Olive Oil Lamps can be reached at:


P.O. Box 1384

Longview, WA.  98632-7815

1-800-600-LAMP (5267)


I highly recommend their lamps, both for safety and ambiance, along with the

fact that they are indeed, Period.  Much nicer to look at, and to be looked

at with than Cole-man eye-blinders!!!!


Best of luck with them, and I hope you find their gentle light as wonderous

as I do, and as pleasant to have in one's encampment.  


Blessings to you and yours, and may your camels never thirst!!


Lady Huma'i al'Rashida al'Baghdadiyya

cka: Axeher at AOL.com



From: fnklshtn at ACFcluster.nyu.edu

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: re: Oil Lamps

Date: 1 Mar 1995 04:25:30 GMT

Organization: New York University, New York, NY


A gentle asked for help in burning vegetable oil.

Another responded that vege. oli does not burn and lamp oil needs to be used.


Gee, I light for Sabbath using regular old supermarket virgin olive oil.

It burns quite well and lasts a good long time.


I got wicks in israel - the are coated with wax and you stick one into a cork

floater and let it float in the oil.

The lamp is simply a glass bowl.


I couldn't see where you were mailing from but if there are Judaica stores

around, you can get the wicks and floaters. You can also get the glass things

from them (they have this nipple on the back so that you can set them into

regular candle sticks) - or you could just use a small wine glass (one of

them round ones) - for period bowl make one from clay (just take a clay disk

and fold up at edges, pinching at three "corners" so that it looks like a

"napoleon" hat) - I seen plenty of these at Brittish Museum.






From: uccxdem at okway.okstate.edu (David Mann)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Oil Lamps

Date: 1 Mar 1995 17:35:48 GMT

Organization: OSU CIS


>Most oil I know burns which is why the greatest danger in oil lamps is

>knocking them over.  Is there a difference in olive oil I don't know about?



>kngorman at artspas.watstar.uwaterloo.ca



Unlike most petroleum based oils, the average vegetable oil doesn't flash

when a lit lamp is knocked over. There are some petroleum oils that don't

readily burn and some vegetable oils (not easily purchased) that burn

quite easily. My father provided me with information on the oils

(almost 30 years petroleum R&D). Olive oil burns nicely, and the low-fat

oils :-) do not burn as clean and are harder to get started.





From: jeffs at math.bu.EDU (Jeff Suzuki)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: oil lamps

Date: 7 Mar 1995 14:01:10 -0500


Eyrny asks:


>Most oil I know burns which is why the greatest danger in oil lamps

>is knocking them over.  Is there a difference in olive oil I don't

>know about?


It's probably less flammable.  Consider: you can light kerosene

instantly with a match.  It takes a bit more coaxing to burn olive

oil.  (Other vegetable oils are even worse, as olive oil has one of

the lowest burning temperatures of all the oils; its "smoke" point

effectively prevents it from being used to deep fry things.)


E.g., if you knock over a jar of burning kerosene, the fire spreads

rapidly, whereas a jar of burning olive oil will smolder and maybe go

out (or at least give you enough time to smother it with something,

like a cloak).  Of course, you pay for it in a lower flame

temperature, which translates into less light.  OTOH, if you spill

olive oil over everything, it doesn't smell as bad as kerosene. OTGH,

it attracts bugs...


(In fact, what high temperature burning fuels existed in period, as in

were used?  I can only think of two, one secret --- Greek fire --- and

one arguable --- rock oil, which would never have been very common.

Any others?)


William the Alchymist



From: habura at vccnw04.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Oil Lamps

Date: 7 Mar 1995 15:59:53 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY


For Eyrny: Butter burns at relatively low temperatures because it contains

a number of suspended solids. Clarifying the butter will allow it to burn

cleanly in a lamp (I seem to recall that clarified butter is used as lamp

oil in India and parts of the Middle East. Anyone know?). In general, any

oil with suspended solids---butter, dark sesame oil, whatnot--has a low

smoking point. Oils that are basically "pure"--like the American clear

"vegetable" oils---will only smoke at higher temperatures.


Alison MacDermot

*Ex Ungue Leonem*



From: derek.broughton at onlinesys.com (DEREK BROUGHTON)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: oil lamps

Date: Fri, 10 Mar 95 21:25:00 -300

Organization: Online Systems Of Canada


William the Alchymist said:


JS>Eyrny asks:


JS>>Most oil I know burns which is why the greatest danger in oil lamps

JS>>is knocking them over.  Is there a difference in olive oil I don't

JS>>know about?


JS>It's probably less flammable.  Consider: you can light kerosene

JS>instantly with a match.  It takes a bit more coaxing to burn olive

JS>oil.  (Other vegetable oils are even worse, as olive oil has one of

JS>the lowest burning temperatures of all the oils; its "smoke" point

JS>effectively prevents it from being used to deep fry things.)


According to a chef on CBC Radio's Radio Noon (Toronto), Feb. 24, this

is a myth.  The smoke point of Olive Oil is quite high, and it can indeed

be used for frying.


Coryn llith Rheged                 |  Canton of Wessex Mere

mka Derek Broughton                |  Barony of Ramshaven

derek.broughton at onlinesys.com      |  Principality of Ealdormere

                                   |  Middle Kingdom



From: WISH at uriacc.uri.edu (Peter Rose)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval candles--??

Date: Wed, 29 Jan 97 22:28:48 EST

Organization: University of Rhode Island


]I don't think they went through a long drawn out process

]of snuffing the candle, triming the wick then relighting

]the candle.  Rather I thing they just used their handy belt

]knife to flick off the excess wick length of the burning

]candle.  Conjucture, of course based on my reaction

]to a period candle.

In at least some times and places, there were people armed with

special wick-trimming sissors for candles, and pointy bits of

wire called 'pickwicks' for oil-fired light-sources.



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: medieval candles--??

From: una at bregeuf.stonemarche.org (Honour Horne-Jaruk)

Date: Sun, 02 Feb 97 10:16:10 EST


Morgoth <morgoth at nome.net> writes:


> Bear Grease? Lard?


> Fr. Morgoth, Cyberabbey of St. Cyril


        Respected friend:

        In their natural state, both of these are too soft to

make useable candles. Instead, they were used in fat-lamps or


        Fat-lamps, usually made of soapstone because of the

heat involved, were just open bowls holding a lump of fat with

a moss or tow wick. They smoke badly and smelled worse, but

they were better than nothing and could be placed higher than

the fire's light would reach.

        Rushlights were peeled river reeds (the same kind used

for the "rush-covered floors" that show up in all the best

romances) soaked in hot fat. While they - if you'll pardon

the phrase- couldn't hold a candle to the real thing, they

were well ahead of fat-lamps both on smokiness and light.

        Rushlights continued in use clear up to the early

1800s, specifically because they were the best way to get light

from soft fat.    


                                Alizaunde, Demoiselle de Bregeuf

                                Una Wicca (That Pict)

                                (Friend) Honour Horne-Jaruk, R.S.F.



From: rhayes at powerup.com.au (Robin Hayes)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Lamps, Holders etc.

Date: 4 Apr 1997 12:57:57 GMT

Organization: Power Up


In article <3344a7d9.34858972 at netnews.worldnet.att.net>, of Thu, 03 Apr

1997 13:00:06 GMT, David M. Razler of david.razler at worldnet.att.net says...


>illuminating devices, including the NY Met.,


>My first Society metal project was a portable version of a 14-candle

>floor-standing candleholder I spotted one day at the Met.


>Paintings are a good, but secondary source, as an artist will generally make

>something look either "good" or, in earlier period, fit the accepted style, if

>the device is recorded at all.


Check out

The Art of Bronze Brass and Copper

Exquisite artefacts from ancient times to the 20th century

Jan Divis

Hamlyn (english translation

(c) 1991 Aventinum, Prague

ISBN 0 600 57268 4


Contains much info, including picture of period lighting sources,

eg, Bronze oil lamp in the shape of a sailing boat symbolizing the Church.

Italy 4th C Page 38 and many others,


as well as shapes of many types of period candlesticks.





Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997 10:48:36 -0700 (PDT)

From: Cynthia Virtue <cvirtue at well.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Period lanterns


For inside-the-tent-use, obtain one of those pierced-tin lanterns.  Pry

the top (cone) off.  Obtain a battery-powered camping lantern (the kind

with the big cubicular battery) take it apart; saw the "stem" off, and

reassemble minus stem, and minus "shade."  It should fit inside the

pierced tin lantern, if you remove any nail or fitting for a candle that

sometimes come in the tin ones. Wire the top back on the tin lantern.


You now have a lantern that will look like it has a candle in it up to

about 6 inches away -- and is safe for using in all environments.


I've startled many a friend by lighting my "candle lantern" by opening

the door and throwing the switch.





Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997 13:26:33 -0700 (PDT)

From: Cynthia Virtue <cvirtue at well.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Period lanterns


On Mon, 11 Aug 1997, Sheron Buchele/Curtis Rowland wrote:

> This is a good idea, unfortunately, the pierced tin lanterns are firmly

> Colonial (at least from my research).  But thanks for the idea!


Ah.  I'm not surprised; lighting is one frontier that I haven't

investigated much.  However, some illuminations, and the Mideval Life

book from Eyewitness Books show cut-out-metal lanterns seemingly without

horn/glass/isinglass in the holes.  One might be able to adapt the

electric light idea to this form factor.





Date: Tue, 12 Aug 1997 06:25:57 -0700

From: cvirtue at well.com (Cynthia Virtue)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Period lanterns


Baronness Leonora wrote:

>What do the ones from this source look like?  Are the holes bigger than a

>nail punch or a knife pierce?  Are they in a pattern? What is the shape of

>the lantern?  Where is the handle?  Does the light escape only from the

>piercings or is there some larger opening?  How does it open to allow you

>to change the candle?  When will e-mail allow pictures?!   at ^%$&^*&!!!!


First the caveat, and then the answers:

The Medieval Life book has good illustrations and good text.  I'd probably

recommend it as the first book a new SCAdian should buy. However, they

don't say if an article pictured is a reproduction, or an authentic item

from the time period.  Some are clearly new work, and some are more likely

antiques of the right age.


That said, on p.48 there is a photo of two lanterns, both circular in cross

section, with conical tops and rings attached to the top. Both have doors

tht open to provide access to the candle within; doors seem to take between

1/3 and not-quite 1/2 of the circumference.  The door on one leaves an open

space at the top of the door opening; the other closes the door opening



If we assume that the candle they picture is roughly the same size as a

standard table-candle of today (about 1" in diameter) then both lanterns

are about 5" in diameter.  One is about 14" high at the wall, with a cone

another 4-5" to the peak; the other is nearly 20" high, with a similar



The holes in the sides look cut out, as if with a punch. One is trefoils;

the other is teardrops and crosses.  The trefoils are staggered evenly, the

other has a gridwork of teardrops.  The crosses are centered in the grid.

The metal looks smooth and black.


The local Pier One and similar stores are carrying lanterns not dissimilar

to this one, although the holes are larger, and the cone is replaced by a



# at # at # email will be changing to cvirtue at richochet.net # at # at #

   Cynthia Virtue, or sometimes Lady Cynthia du Pre Argent



Date: Tue, 12 Aug 1997 23:07:01 -0500 (CDT)

From: timbeck at ix.netcom.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Period lanterns



>summers in the Pacific Northwest!) so I am very interested in lanterns for

>camping.  I have found one fairly late painting where Joseph (it is a

>creche scene) is holding an octagonal lantern, there is two visible panels

>which are transparent (glass? empty? mica?) and the handle is a "D" shape

>on the lantern body itself.


>Any other paintings or sources that people know of?  I like many of the

>"primative" lanterns commonly sold, but I would really like to have a

>period light source that is legal to use in our new pavillion!


>Waiting in anticipation,

>Baroness Leonora


The _London Museum Medieval Catalogue 1940_ has a couple of archeological scale drawings of period lanterns and a few small pictures redrawn from period sources. They also mention that many were "completely of metal with a small opening in one side for the light, at times to have had panels of horn or glass.  The latter are common in the later Middle Ages, but both types are represented in the mid-13th century."  It also mentions that the cylinder shape is "very constant".  Indeed the two lamps which are drawn in detail are both cylinders they are both missing their door which seems to have made up about 1/3 of the circumference.  Cone shaped tops were common.  Both of the examples have trefoil pierces.  The top is pieced to release heat.





Date: Wed, 13 Aug 1997 08:20:15 -0500

From: Wendy Robertson <wcrobert at blue.weeg.uiowa.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: lanterns


I hope I am not repeating earlier posts.  I accidentally deleted a few

posts on lanterns without reading them.


In Asser's Life of King Alfred (late 9th century), Asser credits the

invention of the horn lantern to Alfred.  Although this attribution is

highly suspect, the relevant section is fairly interesting.  


Chapter 103 is about Alfred's promise "to render to God ... one half of his

mental and bodily effort both by day and by night". In order to fairly

judge the passage of time at night and on cloudy days, he needed some

method of keeping time.


Chapter 104 explains that Alfred instructed 72 penny-weight of wax to be

weighed, 6 candles 12 inches long made of the wax, and have each candle

marked at 1 inch increments.  The 6 candles would then be lit successively

so that all 24 hours would be measured.  But because of the "extreme

violence of the wind, which sometimes blew day and night without stopping

through the doors of the churches or through the numerous cracks in the

windows, walls, wall panels and partitions, and likewise through the thin

material of the tents" he needed to come up with a way to keep the candles

burnng steadily.


"Alfred considered how he might be able to exclude such draughts of wind;

and when he had ingeniously and cleverly devised a plan, he ordered a

lantern to be constructed attractively out of wood and ox-horn--for white

ox-horn, when shaved down with a blade, becomes as translucent as a glass

vessel.  Once this lantern had been marvellously constructed from wood and

horn in this manner I have described, and a candle had been placed inside

it at night so that it shown brightly without as within, it could not be

disturbed by any gust of wind, since he had asked for the door of the

lantern to be made of horn as well."


Ailene nic Aedain

Shire of Shadowdale, Calontir

mailto:wcrobert at blue.weeg.uiowa.edu



Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 09:04:14 -0400 (EDT)

From: Griff41520 at aol.com

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu


In regardes to Period lanterns.  If you are lucky enough to have a Target

store(It's like a Wal Mart) near you, check out the candle holder dept. The

one near me has a wonderful selection of some very period looking holders.  



of Tri Os in Trimaris



From: hoopty2112 at aol.com (HOOPTY2112)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Oil Lamps for Feast Gear

Date: 2 Nov 1997 23:15:35 GMT


>Also has anyone ever experimented with the kind of middle-eastern "genie"

>lamp with a wick? Also how would you keep the oil from spilling?




The big problem I have seen with the "genie lamps" is the fact that oil still

tends to leak from the seams in the lamp. I would suggest that you seal the

seams before you use the lamp.



From: redjack at mindspring.com (Richard A Lewis)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Oil Lamps for Feast Gear

Date: Sun, 02 Nov 1997 04:02:18 GMT

Organization: MindSpring Enterprises, Inc.


"Jenna" <Jennifer.Melton at usm.edu> wrote:

>I was reading some of the back threads of this group and someone mentioned

>something about using oil lamps with their feast gear. What kind was that?

>Also has anyone ever experimented with the kind of middle-eastern "genie"

>lamp with a wick? Also how would you keep the oil from spilling?



>Shire of Dragoun's Weal - http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/4707


You donÕt completely.


The filling hole on the top you can seal with a good rubber gasket or

even a thin bead of that soft gasket making gunk from automotive

places, if the lid doesnt fit tight enough.......both will be hidden

from view, so periodness is no biggy.


The wick end, has to be relatively loose to allow the oil to wick

up.....you can however plug the hole with a suitable sized piece of

brass or wood (it will char) and drill a hole almost the exact same

size as your wick you intend to use......that will stop it from

pouring out if the lamp is ever tipped.


On a side note, several European designs were nothing more than a

shallow bowl with a Y to hold the wick on the edge......talk about

fire hazards!


Richard McLlewyn   loving husband of the most fair Lady Kris :)



From: Tigranes of Bezabde <tigranes at epix.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Oil Lamps for Feast Gear

Date: Mon, 03 Nov 1997 20:14:04 -0800


The genie style lamps date back to Roman times.  When made of one piece,

say brass or ceramic, the only place the oil can leak is the fill lid or

the wick hole.  One way to avoid fire problems is to use the same fuel

that was used in period.....olive oil.   When spilled, olive oil won't

flare (Heck, it will probably put out the wick!).


The same solution works on the open pan lamps.  Pan lamps were primarily

used in northern climes, where olive oil was not readily available.  

Therefore the main fuel for pan lamps in those areas was animal grease.  

The flame melts the grease, which travels up the wick to fuel the flame.

The majority of the grease remains solid, so a spill is really no more

hazardous than tipping over a burning candle (Which is NOT a harmless

occurance, I'll agree).


A terrific article on the subject of light is in "The Book of

Buckskinning IV."   Lots of good info.



Tigranes of Bezabde,

AEthelmearc, Endless Hills



From: durr.al-jabal at iname.COM (al-musta'rib)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Oil Lamps for Feast Gear

Date: 5 Nov 1997 19:07:28 -0500


Tigranes of Bezabde wrote:

> The genie style lamps date bact to Roman times.  When made of one piece,

> say brass or ceramic, the only place the oil can leak is the fill lid or

> the wick hole.  One way to avoid fire problems is to use the same fuel

> that was used in period.....olive oil.   When spilled, olive oil won't

> flare (Heck, it will probably put out the wick!).


ya azzunish!


Permit me to disagree on the fuel source.  In the same period, the Arabs

were making use of distilled petroleum products for lighting (The Romans

made record of the harvest of bitumen "bulls" in the Dead Sea by the Arabs)

Using refined lamp-oil is a period use for any who had trade with the Arabs

on a regular basis.


(Consider that "Greek Fire" was the distilation by-product naptha, which is

the Arabic word for it.)


Salaam, al-musta'rib



From: shawnjoh at uoguelph.ca (Shawn Johnson)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Oil Lamps for Feast Gear

Date: 6 Nov 1997 15:42:33 GMT

Organization: University of Guelph


Tigranes of Bezabde (tigranes at epix.net) wrote:

: The genie style lamps date bact to Roman times.  When made of one piece,

: say brass or ceramic, the only place the oil can leak is the fill lid or

: the wick hole.  One way to avoid fire problems is to use the same fuel


In more northern climes, lamps would be constructed with a spill catcher

so that imported oils would not be wasted.


: that was used in period.....olive oil.   When spilled, olive oil won't

: flare (Heck, it will probably put out the wick!).


Olive oil can also be scented with essential oils, or by soaking certain

herbs in the oil itself.  I cannot attest to the period-ness of this.


I read through a small book in our library, which was basically a survey

of oil lamps from antiquity.  The lamps in the book were all made of clay

with the exception of one or two examples in carved stone. Some of them

were quite ornate.


One of our local members who has access to a kiln, did a

clay-handbuilding workshop in our Canton.  One of the things I made was

an oil lamp, based on one of the designs in the book. Firing hasnt been

done yet, so wish me luck!  THis particular design, however, wasnt the

most common "genie' style that we have spoken of. Imagine a

small pitcher shape without a pouring lip ... a hole is taken out of the

side (opposite the handle) and a drip catcher constructed around it.  


   __|   |

// /     \__

\\|        /



I only saw one or two examples like this in the book, but it's simplicity

and stability caught my eye.  


An even simpler oil lamp was merely a bowl with a spout pinched out of

the side, so that a wick could be squeezed in.  This was a fairly early

lamp ... probably the precursor of the genie style lamps and most

definately pre-period in the SCA


The COOLEST lamp I saw in the book was carved of stone. It was a figure

of Bes (originally an egyptian fertility and childbirth god that was

adopted into greek and roman cultures) and upon it's head was a

genie-style lamp with two spouts for wicks.  I read that it was fairly

common to have multiple wicks ... the more wicks, the more light.  There

are some documented with over a hundred wick holes.


I hope I have added to the illumination of this subject :)


-Robyn Whystler



Subject: oil lamp accessories

Date: Wed, 10 Feb 99 17:29:06 MST

From: "Stanley S. Swetz" <stanley_s_swetz at yahoo.com>

To: "Mark.S Harris (rsve60)" <rsve60 at email.sps.mot.com>


Dear Mark,


Here is the listing of companies which sell cork wick floats for oil

lamps and the pegged bottom votive glasses which may be used with

these floats. These floats however, one must note, are only for olive

oil or other vegetable oil fed lamps.






A) www.easternchristian.com


B) www.conciliarpress.com




There are two styles of cork wick floats, round and triangular, which

I am aware of. Both are available from the two companies listed above.

To view them, go to www.easternchristian.com/vigil.html. Scroll to the

very end of the listing.






A) www.homeinteriors.com




Call 1-888-377-5297 to contact the dealer nearest to you. The pegged

bottom votive glasses offered here are in many different styles all of

clear glass, no colors. Average size is 3" X 4", large enough to

function comfortably as an oil lamp.


B) Joseph T. Reilly CO., Inc.

   184 Rockaway Ave.

   Valley Stream, NY 11580






This company offers the pegged bottom votive glasses in a hobnail

finish in the following colors: ruby, rose, dark green, light green,

dark blue, light blue, clear, opal, and amber. Size of votives is 3" x

4", large enough to be used comfortably as an oil lamp.



Subject: addendum to oil lamp accessory listing

Date: Tue, 16 Feb 99 13:20:52 MST

From: "Stanley S. Swetz" <stanley_s_swetz at yahoo.com>

To: "Mark.S Harris (rsve60)" <rsve60 at email.sps.mot.com>


When I sent the listing of accessories for oil lamps I did not have an

address where one could view the type of pegged bottom votives that

are available. Well, I have stumbled onto a site where these pegged

bottom votives may be viewed. It is:




Note: Scroll down to page 5 and notice letters O, R, and V.




Note: Scroll down to page 6 and notice letter F.



Subject: more oil lamp news

Date: Tue, 23 Feb 99 14:32:56 MST

From: "Stanley S. Swetz" <stanley_s_swetz at yahoo.com>

To: "Mark.S Harris (rsve60)" <rsve60 at email.sps.mot.com>


I have discovered another manufacturer of yet another different style

of wick floats in Italy. The site is at www.graziani.net/b6ing.htm.


I am buying a gross for myself. Anyone who would want to buy some

could contact me. I do not believe this company has an U. S.



Also a note on pegged bottom votives: In my previous listing I said

these colored glass votives were only available in the hobnail finish.

I have since discovered that a plain version is available at

www.ochsa.com on pages 5 and 6 of their Home Catalog.



Date: Tue, 05 Oct 1999 18:14:04 -0400

From: james koch <alchem at en.com>

Organization: alchem inc

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Petroleum as lamp oil (was: Re: SCA v's Historical Re-enactment)


ThranSloth wrote:

> ddfr at best.com wrote:

> << "Oil lamps" in period were, I believe, burning olive oil or the

> equivalent; what modern people think of as oil lamps burn petroleum

> products. Does anyone know of evidence for the use of petroleum products

> as lamp fuel in period? Alternatively, are there people in your area whose

> oil lamps are burning olive oil or the like? >>


I once ran out of commercial lamp oil and filled one of my larger floor

lamps with Mazola Oil.  It burned just fine with no smoke.  The only

problem I encountered was with the smell.  It gave my house a french

fried aroma which made me hungry for McDonald's.  


Jim Koch (Gladius The Alchemist)



Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 16:32:48 -0400

From: Jennifer Rushman <rushmaj at basf-corp.com>

Subject: SC - Lighting for cooking and camp


Ilia wrote:

     I have been looking around at various ways to do lighting. Particularly,

lighting for cooking. I could bring lots of candles, but I would prefer to get

something that puts out a bit more light. One of the places that I have been

looking at is Lehmans (http://www.lehmans.com/). They have some olive oil lamps

that, while not period, look like they would provide fairly good light.

     Has anyone had experience with these? Do the indeed put out a good amount

of light? Is there a better inexpensive source of lighting?


Clare writes:

     While I have not used Lehamn's lamps, although I did look at their website

to see what they were. I've have done some experimenting with 'lamps.'  My lord

and I have been experimenting with some different period types of lamps, namely,

Viking stone lamps, Roman Cone/Funnel Beaker Lamps, Roman saucer-shaped lamps

and Medieval English Lamps.  We have also experimented with different kinds of

fat: pork fat (from the Christmas ham), olive oil, liquid vegetable oil and

solid vegetable oil (shortening). Different fats seem to burn slightly

differently: rate, light emittened, and scent. For wicking material we have just

been using cotton string or thin fabric strips which have been twisted.

     All of these different types of lamps, fats and wicks worked, the best

choice probally would be the Roman Cone/Funnel Beakers with floating wicks.

Since they are made out of glass they allow light to be emitted up, sideways and

down (which not all of the lamps allow).  These could also be suspended above

the 'work' area just like the Romans and others did!

     A recent camping event really showed the importance of downward lighting

since we couldn't see how dinner was doing on the grill. All of these types did

work well on the feast table though.  Another important point is that none of

these are considered 'closed flames' and thus you should excercise caution as

with any flame source.


     I came up with an easy and inexpensive way to make oil lamps with floating

wicks.  All you need is a glass vessel (or glass cone beaker, funnel beaker or

palm cup), water, liquid vegetable oil, cork, aluminum foil, cotton string and



1.  Fill the glass vessel 2/3 full with water.  Then carefully pour in oil,

about an inch or so (remember it floats on top of the water).


2.  Then twist a wick out of your cotton string.  I use crochet cotton string

with aprox 8 individual lengths twisted together.

3.  Then slice off a piece of cork, approx 1/4 inch thick and punch a hole in it

(mine already had one from the corkscrew).


4.  Cut a circle of aluminum foil that is the same size as the cork.  Punch a

hole in it too.  This helps keep the cork 'float' from burning.


5.  Now thread the wick through the cork and Al foil circles.  There should be a

small amount of wick on top (1/4-1/2 inch) and some hanging below (approx 1

inch).  Make sure that the wick 'tail' isn't so long below that it hangs in the



6.  Carefully dip the wick on the top of the float in the oil and then place the

wick and float (with the tail downwards in the center of the lamp.)  This

dipping put a little fuel on the wick and helps it get started.


7.  Now light your lamp, matches seem easiest for me.  The wick should burn down

to a certain level and then just burn the fuel.

   Notes: You can use a non-transluscent vessel but not as much light will be

let out.

     If you don't have Al foil it still works but your cork may burn too. (This

is how I did it the first time.)

     You can refill while the lamp is lit if your carefully pour in a little

more oil.

     The next time you need your lamp, just pull up a little fresh wick and

light again.


Hmm maybe I should write an article about these lamps.  Oh there is also a

Complete Anachronist on Period Lighting but I don't remember that it had much

about oil lamps.



p.s.- If you repost or print these directions please credit me. Thanks much.

- ---

Lady Clare Hele, Barony of Windmasters' Hill, Atlantia

Omnia Probate!

mka-Jennifer Rushman



Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 21:28:47 EDT

From: CBlackwill at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Lighting for cooking and camp


rushmaj at basf-corp.com writes:

> 2.  Then twist a wick out of your cotton string.  I use crochet cotton

>  string with aprox 8 individual lengths twisted together.


renegadejuggling.com has "torch wicking" and "fire rope" which works

extremely well for all manner of candle/lamp uses.  It burns brightly, but

slowly, and does not contain any wire or asbestos.  I have found that a

standard Hurricane style oil lamp (the base fitted with a leather "cozy" to

hide its non-period nature) filled with lamp oil or rendered duck fat and

this wicking is bright enough to cook and read by at events.



Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 11:08:05 -0400

From: Lurking Girl <tori at panix.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Lighting for cooking and camp


WyteRayven at aol.com wrote:

> I have been looking around at various ways to do

> lighting. Particularly, lighting for cooking. I could bring lots of

> candles, but I would prefer to get something that puts out a bit more

> light. One of the places that I have been looking at is Lehmans

> (http://www.lehmans.com/). They have some olive oil lamps that, while

> not period, look like they would provide fairly good light.


> Has anyone had experience with these? Do the indeed put out a good

> amount of light? Is there a better inexpensive source of lighting?


I have never used their lamps, but I experimented with oil lamps last year,

because we needed overhead light in our dining pavilion (it sucks to have

flame on the table--usually they end up right at eye level so you can't

see a damn thing else), didn't want electricity, and _really_ didn't want

to be picking candle wax out of the hair.


After much Florilegium delving, I came up with the idea of using a

smallish glass bowl, not unlike a fish bowl, easily found at craft

stores.  I filled it halfway with olive oil (doesn't flash), procured

floating wicks from an Eastern Orthodox church supply site, and tested

the mechanism at home.  That was fine.


To suspend the thingy, I thought one of those braided rope wossnames

that are used to hold plant pots (you know, the ones that sort of

cradle the pot and come down in a tassel underneath) would do, since

the flame was well below the level of the bowl.  It worked for two

nights of careful supervision, but the third night the heat managed to

burn its way through the rope.  Oops.  This was why I used olive oil;

it fell on the table and oil went everywhere, but the oil extinguished

the flame.  (No Scadians were harmed in the making of this motion



At Pennsic, I found among the merchants a lamp of similar design, only

they have a rounded-cylinder glass bit suspended from a varnished wood

plate which is then hanging from three chains.  That was a bit better.


I should point out that the light from either of these was not

particularly bright, but one can always make up for that in quantity.


I also purchased, from the church site, the lamp which is _supposed_

to go with those wicks, which is silver (well, probably tin or nickel

or something) and glitzy.  I thought it would be cool to have a whole

bunch of those, but they're like $25/each.  It's very small, and the

oil reservoir is about the size of a votive.  Nifty, though.



who _really_ wants a 30-candle chandelier, but not in a Pennsic windstorm



From: PROSE <prose at uri.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period Lampwork Research.

Date: Thu, 08 Jun 2000 12:06:35 -0400

Organization: University of Rhode Island


> I know that there are Laurels out there in Period Lampworking... I was

> wondering if anyone could tell me who they might be and how I might contact

> them??  I glanced over the Laurel web page and did not accomplish much.

> I am looking to learn & would appreciate any assistance.


Can't help you with that, but the bibliography posted online

at www.rushlight.org has some useful sources in it,

in particular:


THWING, LEROY L. Flickering Flames. Rutland, Vt.: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1958.

(If you have trouble finding that through ILL, the University of Rhode Island

has it in their stacks.)


The rushlight club appears to be focused a fair amount later than what would

interest you, but they might be able to point you in the right direction for

self-directed research, and they'd probably be interested in whatever you come

up with.





Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 21:31:56 -0400

From: James Koch <alchem at en.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: can you Light up my Life?

Organization: EriNet Online Communications - Dayton, OH


David Friedman wrote:

> James Koch <alchem at en.com> wrote:

> >Oil lamps will burn a variety of fuels.


> Are you describing a lamp burning olive oil or something similar, or one

> that burns a petroleum product such as kerosene?

> --

> David/Cariadoc

> http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Medieval/Medieval.html




I usually burn petroleum oil in my period lamps, but on occasions when I

have run out I've substituted cooking (corn) oil.  So I assume olive oil

and other such vegetable oils will work as well.  Of course if you burn

corn oil indoors, it gives the house a slight french fry aroma which

tends to make me hungry.  This is the only bad side effect I have

noted.  I've never actually done a cost comparison between vegetable and

mineral oils. I'll have to make a note to do so the next time I am at

the store.  One big advantage of petroleum oils is that after Pennsic I

can stash unsealed bottles in the garage without them going rancid and



Jim Koch (Gladius The Alchemist)



Date: Sun, 08 Jul 2001 11:02:39 +0200

From: Volker Bach <bachv at paganet.de>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] oil lamps


Stefan li Rous schrieb:

> Vara replied to me with:

> > In my period....a LOT earlier than yours, we tended to use fat not oil for

> > lamps. Tallow, and animal fats.

> > fish oils were used as well. Not so much veg oil as they would have been far

> > too expensive to burn.

> > The rich had beeswax candles.


> Will fat work in a lamp though? I thought to work in a lamb the fuel

> needed to liquid.


No. I've done this, though with materials for a

much earlier period (Ahrensburg culture reindeer

hunter gear, late Mesolithic - don't ask).

Goosefat poured into a shallow dish with a

wickholder, then hardened and lit, will burn

nicely enough - though it smells of cooked goose

and sputters a good deal. I've also seen it done

with lard, tallow, and butter, in pottery lamps of

various descriptions.


As a word of caution, BTW - filling modern lamp

oil into Roman- or medieval-design oil lamps will

result in a very dramatic pyrotechnic effect as

the entire outer surface of the lamp catches fire!

Done that, too. (unglazed pottery. If you pour in

vegetable oils or animal fats they will close the

pores, being viscous, and effectively waterproof

the lamp for the duration. Mineral oil distillate

just seeps through, turning the entire lamp into a

wick... *always* glaze your pottery lamps)





Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001 14:14:14 -0500

From: "Stephanie Howe" <showe01 at earthlink.net>

To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ku.edu>

Subject: Re: "Period" candlesticks and chandeliers


Yes, modern lamp oil is a petroleum product, and will seep through even

glazed ware.  Pottery supply companies sell a product that's supposed to

stop this, a sort of varnish or sealant for the interior of clay vessels.

Not an issue with olive oil, clarified butter, seal oil, or other animal or

plant derived oils, greases, or waxes historically used for lighting.





From: margali <mtraber251 at earthlink.net>

Date: Tue Sep 2, 2003  9:42:37 AM US/Central

To: spca-wascaerfrig at yahoogroups.com

Subject: [spca-wascaerfrig] light sources for pennsic


OK, command decision here. we are going to pick a particular light

source, and everybody is going to provide 1 per person. There will be NO

MORE tiki torches. Yes, I know we are still producing combustion

products, but to a much smaller degree [ok, the solar options wont be

making gasses and soot...]and you may provide more than one if you feel

generous. I also want a total of 16 chairs like the black one in the

pictures of the campsite with the household badge painted on the

backs...we have 1...if we can get plans drawn up so rob can crank some

out, or everybody can make their own...this will be the seating around

the fire. I forsee a small folding table between each pair of chairs,

and a lantern on a shepherds crook holder above the table as the seating

around the fire pit. This will give everybody a place to be comfy, a bit

of social lighting and a place to put the drinks.


We will be needing at least 20 of these light sources.


ex cathedra Hospitaler





IDC Tear Drop Solar Lights

Item: ID-515962

Price: $24.99



Petromax Lanterns

Item: ID-512667

Price: $149.99


Petromax Lanterns

The Petromax Original is a German-made, solid brass, nickel-plated

lantern that burns for eight hours on one quart of kerosene and provides

400 watts of light, which is four times brighter than most other

pressurized lanterns (burning on lower power gives you up to 32 hours on

one quart). This multi-fuel lantern burns kerosene, mineral spirits,

lamp oil and diesel fuel. Mix in some citronella oil with the fuel to

keep mosquitoes and other insects away. One-year warranty.

The Petromax Jr. has the same features as the original in a smaller,

compact version that's just 12" tall. Burns 8 hours on one pint of fuel

and puts out 150 watts of light.

Color: Brass, Silver.

Available: Petromax Original, Petromax Jr.


IF we want to get fancy:


http://www.lumenfly.com/   but these would require perhaps marine

batteries and a solar power or fuel cell system...



kind of funky, but might be nice flanking the gate=)




has several options, i like 1 through 4, not thrilled with the

pumpkins=)different ones would have different applications



spiffy, come with a very ornate base each...



Iridescent Glass Lantern  01908800  $8.00



From: ekoogler1 at comcast.net

Date: Wed Sep 3, 2003  8:12:29 AM US/Central

To: spca-wascaerfrig at yahoogroups.com

Subject: Re: [spca-wascaerfrig] Digest Number 841


> OK, command decision here. we are going to pick a particular light

> source, and everybody is going to provide 1 per person. There will be NO

> MORE tiki torches.


Margali, I understand where you're coming from with the idea of lanterns.

We've been using them for a number of years now as we feel they are safer.

What you might want to do, however, is check a couple of other places.  We

purchased the candle lanterns we use from Smoke and Fire...they are quite

handsome and can put off a fair amount of light. Another place you might want

to check is Sportsmans Guide.  I know they have carried the Petromax lanterns

in the past, and may still have them...at a less expensive price than Cabelas.

Cabelas is a great place to shop, but you do pay premium prices there.  Check

out www.sportsmansguide.com and see what they have.





From: David Friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.nopsam.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: lanterns

Date: Mon, 03 Jul 2006 01:20:12 -0700


jk <klessig at cox.net> wrote:

> Steve Hix <sehix at NOSPAMspeakeasy.netINVALID> wrote:

> >An alternative to horn or glass would be mica (isinglass). One source

> >for that is Lehman's non-electric:

> >

> >http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=4276&;itemTy

> >pe=PRODUCT&RS=1&keyword=isinglass


> I thought isinglass was a fishbladder, mica is a mineral.


My reaction as well, but I googled it, and it turns out that "isinglass"

has two different meanings, and one of them is mica.


http://www.daviddfriedman.com/ http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/

Author of _Harald_, a fantasy without magic.

Published by Baen, in bookstores now


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org