This month at I was lucky enough to discover a rare U.S. Light-House Establishment “Bracket Lamp” for use on Lighthouse Tenders and possibly on Lightships. This particular lamp likely dates from about the 1880’s into the 20th Century.
The lamp is of a Funck design and is very similar to the “Table Lamp” that I wrote about here two years ago, except for its slightly smaller stature. The lamp itself measures about 11¼” high (the Table Lamp measures 13” high) and like many lighthouse lamps, it is not marked. The lamp accepts a cylindrical wick about 1” inside diameter. These lights were modifications of the Funck lamp design. The stand and the burner are the same as in a Funck 4th order lamp, the only thing different is the oil reservoir itself in that it has a different shape and holds less fuel than a Funck lamp used inside a lens.
The wick in this Bracket Lamp is raised by rotating the burner, a method used from the 1880’s until about 1900. At this time, the wick adjustment was changed to a knurled knob, as shown in the United States Light House Establishment. “Price List of Standard Articles (for Lighthouse Purposes) Furnished from General Depot, Thompkinsville, New York. 1901.” The lamp base is weighted, probably with lead, and the tank is fitted with a gimbal which rests in the bulkhead (wall) mount. The weight and this mechanism kept the lamp in a vertical position despite the rolling of the vessel. I have never seen this style Lighthouse Service lamp available on the market before, and have seen only one other in a private collection.
The “Bracket Lamp for Tenders” is listed and shown in the United States Light House Establishment. “Price List of Standard Articles (for Lighthouse Purposes) Furnished from General Depot, Thompkinsville, New York. 1901.” This publication was used for budgeting purposes in the Light House Establishment. I believe that the value of items delivered to light stations and vessels from the depot were deducted from the station’s budget based upon the cost indicated in this publication. This lamp is listed as “Bracket lamp, swinging on gimbals,” at a cost for budget purposes of $12.50. The lamp is listed as using fifth-order burners and chimneys.
Accessories for the lamp include a milk glass shade with brass wire holder, and a brass heat deflector to be mounted above the chimney. This same lamp could also be hung using different brackets as either a Lighthouse Tender “Cabin Lamp” or “Hanging Lamp.”
This is an exceptionally rare find as few Lighthouse Tender items have survived the decades. If any readers have any interior photos of early lighthouse tenders that show this lamp, we would love to see them and would include them in a future article.
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Jim Claflin is a recognized authority on antiques of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, Life-Saving Service, Revenue Cutter Service and early Coast Guard. In addition to authoring and publishing a number of books on the subject, Jim is the owner of Kenrick A Claflin & Son Nautical Antiques. In business since 1956, he has specialized in antiques of this type since the early 1990s. He may be contacted by writing to him at 1227 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602, or by calling 508-792-6627. You may also contact him by email: jclaflin@LighthouseAntiques.net or visit his web site at: www.LighthouseAntiques.net
This story appeared in the
Jul/Aug 2016 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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