You can see all the books available (so far) in this series by entering "The Non-Electric Lighting Series" in the Amazon search bar above.
This book covers wick-type kerosene lamps and lanterns. It’s for users, not antique dealers. How can we generate LIGHT? That is the question.
Fuel substitutes, safety, operating procedures, maintenance, repair, and various lamp styles are the topics. Things to look for when buying used. Cost effectiveness. Homemade lamps. Candlepower. Those are the subjects discussed. Collector value? Never mentioned.
This book covers, of course, the simple flat-wick lamps sold today in every Walmart and Family Dollar. But there’s quite a bit more to it than that.
As a young adult, I happened to be at my parent's home one evening when a blackout occurred. My mother sent me to check on an elderly woman, a 90-year-old family friend, who lived alone. When she came to the door, I was dazzled by the kerosene lamp she had burning in the living room. Whereas the kerosene lamp my parents kept tucked away for emergencies gave off light on par with a 7-watt nightlight, this woman’s lamp was more like a 40-watt light bulb. It was not a Coleman lantern that hissed or needed pumping up. It was merely a wick-fed table lamp that ran on kerosene, a Rayo.
I later discovered that Rayos were on the market twenty years before Colemans. The Rayo wick, instead of being flat, was tubular, like a sock. The fire at the top of the wick formed a ring. Light output was striking.
When I got home and told my mother about it, she said, “Oh yes. And in England they used to have Duplex lamps. They had two wicks instead of one. That's what they used during the War." Turns out Duplexes were introduced thirty years before Rayos.
What?! How could I get to be so old and yet be so ignorant? This is technology from Grandpa’s day. Surely I should be a step ahead of Grandpa, no?
Then again, maybe not. Maybe it’s time to just back up a step and see what we’ve forgotten. I think most folks will be surprised.