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Lamp, whale oil
Lamp, whale oil
Resource Typeimage
TitleLamp, whale oil
Coverage / Year1800 to 1850
DescriptionTall cylindrical chamber lamp with double wick.
InterpretationWhale oil was highly prized from 1750 to 1850 as the best lamp oil fuel. It burned at a very steady rate, very brightly and with little smoke. Oil from the skull cavity of the spermaceti whale was the finest quality and was a major reason the whaling industry was so profitable. This whale oil lamp is very similar to later lard oil lamps. The difference is in the wick. This wick is rounded, and lard oil lamps had flat heavy rope like wicks. Lard oil was cheaper and easier to get (lard being pig or cow fat) and lard oil lamps were more cheaply made. By the 1840s whale oil declined as a lamp fuel, in part because of its expense. The Civil War made whaling very difficult and that, in combination with the discovery of kerosene, spelled the end of whale oil as a lamp fuel.
Lesson Plans / ThemesAmerican Communities in History; Communities and Geography; How we learn about communities; Whaling Slide Show; Inventions Multimedia Time Line; School Museum; Introduction of artifacts as a primary source; What's That Relic?; Settling in the Midwest;
Learning Standards16 History; 18 Social Systems; 13 Science, Technology and Society;
Author or CreatorUnknown
Subject / KeywordsWhale; Whales; Oil lamp; Whale oil; United States; Light; Lighting device; Candlestick; Candlesticks
Collection PublisherEarly American Museum;
Further InformationFor any further information related to this record, please contact the Collection Publisher. See for more information about this project.
Rights Management Statement
Resource Identifier1968.001.1066
CONTENTdm file name412.jpg
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