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lighting-msg - 3/5/07

 

Period lighting. Lamps, candles, torches.

 

NOTE: See also the files: candles-msg, lamps-msg, flt-wick-lmps-art, firestarting-msg, candlesticks-msg, decor-sources-msg, torches-msg.

 

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NOTICE -

 

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

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Period Illumination (ie: light)?

Date: 15 Jun 92

From: amlsmith at morgan.ucs.mun.ca (Andrew Smith)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Organization: Memorial University of Newfoundland

 

system at idiws1.idi.battelle.org writes:

>Greetings to All from Connor de Morgan.

>

>I recently had cause to ponder the question of pre-electric lighting

>(during an extended power outage) and thought "I really should have

>a better means of lighting than a flashlight or candles."  I figure

>aren't appropriate for inside a tent or walking around at night.  I

>suspect that some sort of enclosed lantern might be more period for

>me, and better for general use as well.  I'll be doing my own research

>

>                               Connor

 

Greetings from Sebastian!

 

I might have something that will shead some _light_ on the subject.

(Excuse the overused pun! :) If this info has already been posted,

my apologies, I'm a little behind in my reading... exams and all!

 

In _The Crossbow_  Sir. R. Payne Galloway cites several woodcuts. One

is From _A Natural History of Birds_, by G. Pietro Olina (sp) 1622.

In it he shows hand-lanterns using one of oil and candle-light. Each

item is comfortably held in one hand while the other hold a racket, with

which to hit the birds.  (rackets & birdies... hmmmm :)

 

If you can't find the bird book, the page in _The Crossbow_ is 156.

 

Sebastian

amlsmith at morgan.ucs.mun.ca

 

 

From: sherman at trln.lib.unc.edu (dennis r. sherman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: _TI_ #107, "Surviving the Troll..."

Date: 18 Jun 1993 12:55:49 GMT

Organization: Triangle Research Libraries Network

 

Greetings to the Rialto from Robyyan.

 

Cyrus of Alexandreta describes luminaria made of coffee cans with

punched holes and painted black, containing candles in glass jars, and

then comments:

 

>This variation is very attractive at night (although I don't know

>exactly how temporally correct - but then how "correct" are paper

 

Much more historically correct than you might think. Night lights

known as "mortars" and made on much the same model were known and used

from at least the 14th century.  The mortar was a thick candle,

intended to burn slowly for a long time, and was often used in a

shield of pierced tin.

 

I like your idea -- strikes me as quite safe, especially if the cans

have some sand or water in the bottom, *and* has the virtue of being

based (even if accidentally :-) on something that was used

historically for the same purpose.

 

Short plug on related item:  Compleat Anachronist on Domestic Lighting

(that I've been working on for 2+ years) should be out in July,

according to my last contact with the editor, two days ago.

--

  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: david.razler at postoffice.worldnet.att.net (David M. Razler)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Flame "proof" tent canvas

Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 03:49:57 GMT

Organization: AT&T WorldNet Services

 

Kim Pollard <kim at inna.net> wrote:

 

>On Thu, 18 Jul 1996, David M. Razler wrote:

>

>> A suggestion: Even in your most period pavillion, use battery candles inside.

>> They look right and they cannot burn.

>

>>                              A,T/dmr

>

>Do you mean the candles like one sees in the windows during Christmas?

>What kind of battery would be used and how long would it last?

>

>Kimberly

 

Battery candles - available year-round at some craft shops: white plastic

"candlestick" holding an AA battery or two, sometimes with a "brass" plastic

base.

 

<note for outdoor display: for those living near IKEA Swedish furniture shops:

"period-looking" metal and metal/glass candle lanterns are available for a few

bucks each, along with tea candles, which run for about 4 hours each. Not much

light, enough for a Pennsic PortaCastle run. Good outside a tent to avoid

ropes & other obstacles. Not period in that they are not wood/glass wood/horn

or designed for a significantly long candle. As they are not wood, they also

will not burn, the major problem with the period models <wax builds up in the

wood and....>

 

                                A,T/dmr

David M. Razler

david.razler at worldnet.att.net

 

 

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

rushlights.

        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: david.razler at worldnet.att.net (David M. Razler)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Lamps, Holders etc.

Date: Thu, 03 Apr 1997 13:00:06 GMT

 

hopey at aliens.com  (Elspeth) wrote:

| Does anybody out there have some 'preferred' or plain ol faithful,

| candle holders, or lamps they use for events?  I know how popular

| Tikit Torches have become, but what kind of preferences do people have

| for table light sources?  Any truely Period things one could use?  I

| have yet to start looking at paintings to get a glimps of what was

| used.

 

My automatic response, having had the joy of growing up here in the Center of

Bostwash, is to suggest a trip to a museum with a good collection of period

illuminating devices, including the NY Met., the Cloisters (its

medieval/Renaissance artifacts and treasury collection uptown) and the

Philadelphia Art Museum (though I *think* many of the period rooms are still

under reconstruction).

 

If you lack a good museum, try for the museum books with photos of the objects

through inter-library loan or (ring of cash register) the museum gift shop

catalogs.

 

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.

 

A cheap source of information is one of the Society's Complete Anachronist

monographs, #68 Domestic Lighting, available through the Society at

1-800-789-7486 - membership and other information available there too.

 

                                        david/Aleksandr

 

David M. Razler

david.razler at worldnet.att.net

 

 

From: Andrew Tye <atye at efn.org>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Lamps, Holders etc.

Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 10:32:59 -0800

Organization: Oregon Public Networking

 

On Thu, 3 Apr 1997, Elspeth wrote:

> Does anybody out there have some 'preferred' or plain ol faithful,

> candle holders, or lamps they use for events?  I know how popular

> Tikit Torches have become, but what kind of preferences do people have

> for table light sources?  Any truely Period things one could use?  I

> have yet to start looking at paintings to get a glimps of what was

> used.

 

Ivar here,

 

Aside from the good advice that Aleksandr gave you about museums and art

books, I would also recommend you to books and periodicals on Colonial

America and collecting its artifacts.  A few years back when I was

researching period lighting I stumbled upon a rich vein of information on

just this topic.  You see, people who collect antiques like to know the

history of their subject and how different styles developed. Also, books

on details concerning Colonial America are usually more accessable than

ones on those of Medieval Europe. Thusly, I have found well illustrated

articles on candlesticks, rushlights, grease lamps of all sorts, etc.  In

particular, I would recommend a book titled:

 

        "Lighting In America - From Colonial Rushlights to Victorian

         Chandeliers"  Edited by Lawrence S. Cook. Main Street Press,

         Pittstown, New Jersey.

 

In it, I found a couple of articles written by John Kirk Richardson.  One

was on the history of brass candlesticks.  The other was titled:  "Brass

household candlesticks of the Gothic period."  This later article had over

a dozen photographs of candlesticks from 1200-1400. (Caveat:  Just

because something is 18th C. or crude looking, or is "old" does not mean

that it is applicable for our period.)

 

To reproduce any of these would require the skills of brass casting and

turning.  These are not skills common in the SCA.  If you were to develop

them and start making good copies of period brassware, (candlesticks,

aquamanile, belt & sword furniture, etc.), you might find that you have

the field to yourself and a ready market.

 

Ivar Hakonarson

Adiantum, An Tir.

 

 

Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 17:46:23 -0400

From: Christine A Seelye-King <mermayde at juno.com>

Subject: Re: SC - illusion food - cattails

 

Well, since we've been all around cattails (these are New World, right?),

I thought I would post a piece from a discusison from the Tavern Yard.

Not food, but, interesting information.

Christianna

 

I make a cattail candle that I use for a tiki torch. Leave the stem a

little long, and drive a pipe in the ground (paint the pipe and decorate

it the way you want).  Light the cattail, drop it in the pipe.  When it

burns down to the pipe, the fire goes out and the stem drops down the

pipe (easy clean up).  No messy oil to spill, just add another lighted

cat tail to the pipe, they will burn a long time according to how you

make them. Also, they can be a bug repellent depending on how you make

them.

 

First, you have to find some cattails.  You want to harvest them just

before they go to seed, if you cut them before then they are to dense to

absorb wax. (Make sure to cut the stem at least a foot long).

In a large pot, melt your paraffin (I like using a paraffin and bees

wax). Once the paraffin is melted you can add your citronella if you

want.  Put the cat tail in the pot of wax until you see it stop bubbling.

 

Then remove it and put it on newspaper head down.  I like to press a

short wick on the head at this time to help in the lighting or they are a

little hard to light. At this time I will also roll them in sage, or a

pennyroyal mix, or a rosemary mix.  Any of these will make a bug

repellent but be careful with the pennyroyal.  Once they are cool, just

keep dipping till you get them as thick as you want them. The thicker

the wax, the longer they will burn, (you will need to pull the wick up

and out of the wax- I use a long nail).  When you get them where you want

them, roll them in the sage or rosemary again.  Let cool and put them up

for the next event.  You can get a tube of brass or aluminum.  Cut the

end at a 45 degree angle.  This is the end you put in the ground.  The

flat end is where you slide the stem when you want to light one.  When

the cat tail burns down the stem will fall down the tube and go out, the

wax burns up along with the cattail.

 

No muss no fuss.

 

BLOODSONG

 

 

From: "István László" <laszlo at cyberback.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period torches

Date: Sun, 01 Aug 1999

 

| 2nd - In some movies I have seen bowls on tables that have a small fire in

| them, to shed some light and heat, one of the best movies to see this is the

| movie with Sean Conery as King Arthur and Richard Gere as Lancelot, on the

| round table of that movie there is a bowl in the center I believe with a

| fire.. what would one put in that bowl to make it burn so?

 

In my old shire's encampment at Gulf Wars (held in southern part of Meridies

in March) we had torches next to our gate. These were made from large iron

bowls with wicks around the edge. They were filled with lamp oil and had a

cover on them to prevent things from falling into the oil. They work just

like a hurricane lamp (they just don't have a globe around the flame). They

put out a fair bit of light, but they also put out smoke as well. The

materials for the lamp wick would be the same things you would use for an

oil lamp. You should be able to get them at any hobby store. Hope this

information is of use to you.

 

Lord István László

Knight Marshal for Shire Lagerdamm

Minister of the Web for Shire Lagerdamm

 

 

From: james koch <alchem at en.com>

Organization: alchem inc

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period torches

Date: Sun, 01 Aug 1999 18:59:05 -0400

 

István László wrote:

> In my old shire's encampment at Gulf Wars (held in southern part of Meridies

> in March) we had torches next to our gate. These were made from large iron

> bowls with wicks around the edge. They were filled with lamp oil and had a

> cover on them to prevent things from falling into the oil. They work just

> like a hurricane lamp (they just don't have a globe around the flame). They

> put out a fair bit of light, but they also put out smoke as well. The

> materials for the lamp wick would be the same things you would use for an

> oil lamp. You should be able to get them at any hobby store. Hope this

> information is of use to you.

 

It sounds as though you have pretty accurately reinvented the period oil

lamp.  This design was later known as the "Betty Lamp".  Such oil lamps

were an ancient invention and continued in use in Europe until the end

of the last century.  I've seen numerous variations on this theme.  Some

on tall table stands and others suspended from chains. Jim Koch

(Gladius The Alchemist)

 

 

From: alchem at en.com (James Koch)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Petroleum For Lighting

Date: 26 Mar 2004 14:40:10 -0800

 

>> As to whether or not it is period for use in lamps is a matter of

>> debate. Petroleum was not pumped from the ground in period, but it was

>> gathered from natural pools in Asia.  I believe petroleum oil of this

>> type was a constituent of Greek Fire and has therefore been known since

>> classical times.

>>

>Isn't that a little like arguing that since 20th century people use

>diamonds for jewelery, a 30th c. recreationist can legitimately use it

>for the windshield of his authentic 20th century car? Greek fire was a

>high tech, long secret, military technology. There are certainly

>references in period sources to the existence of petroleum oil, but I

>don't know of any time and place in or period when it was common enough

>to be used as the normal fuel for lamps, and I am quite sure that in

>most times and places it was not.

>--

>David/Cariadoc

 

I guess I wasn't precise enough in my previous statement.  When I said

"period" I was using it in the restrictive SCA sense.  In other words

used prior to 1600 in Europe.  Hence the reference to "Greek" Fire.

It actually was period in the general sense that petroleum oil was

used in lamps prior to 1600.  I have just now chanced on one of my

earlier references which has been lost to me since the early 80s when

I was collecting oil lamps.  It was in Marco Polo's Description Of The

World.  Unfortunately my copy is written entirely in Latin and I am

having trouble reading it after a quarter of a century of being away

from the language.  In any case Polo described passing through Baku on

the Caspian where distilled petroleum oil was the main fuel for

lighting.  True, this does not prove petroleum's use in lighting in

Europe at the time.  More interesting though, the text which led me

back to Polo's work "A Century In Oil" by Stephen Howarth in chapter

one page 17 states "By the 10th century, Arab nations had worked out

that it could be distilled.  In Cairo, torches were lit with the

product, and it is said that in the late 11th century, the equivalent

of 1,400 barrels of petroleum distillate caught fire there, creating a

monstrous blaze."  The significance of this later quote is that

petroleum was not found in Egypt.  This means it was collected,

distilled, packaged, and transported there.  So petroleum distillate

was actually more than a local fuel, it was a commercial commodity.

Now all I have to do is find a reference to its use in either Spain or

Sicily to prove it to be period in the more restrictive sense.

 

Jim Koch (Gladius The Alchemist)

 

 

From: alchem at en.com (James Koch)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Petroleum For Lighting

Date: 27 Mar 2004 13:19:56 -0800

 

> Fascinating. Is it clear how good Howarth's sources are? If you find

> more, I hope you will let us know.

 

Unfortunately the book does not cite original sources with the

exception of Marco Polo, and his work refers only to petroleum being

used locally at Baku.  I have therefore e-mailed The Royal Historical

Society of which Stephen Howarth is a Fellow for contact information.

If this is not forthcoming, I'll write him at his address in

Nottinghamshire.

 

In the 11th century oil was generally transported by ship.  If it

wound up in Cairo it could just as easily have been sold in

Constantanople.  If I could find it being used in Europe, then

distilling oil from raw petroleum might make an interesting A&S

project.  The problem of course is boiling off all of the naptha prior

to distilling to prevent an explosion.

 

Jim Koch (Gladius The Alchemist)

 

<the end>



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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org