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Antiques Considered - June 4, 2014

This Aladdin oil lamp was purchased on December 20, 1920, by the grandfather of a local lady. Remarkably, it has survived with all of its original parts, including the 27-page instruction booklet that gives detailed information on caring for the lamp. The back page of the booklet has the warranty made out in the purchaser’s name.

The Aladdin Mantle Lamp Company is perhaps the most famous maker of American oil lamps. Victor Johnson founded the company in Chicago in 1908, and produced the first lamp in 1909. In 1949, the company moved to Nashville, TN, and in 1999, Aladdin Industries sold the lamp division to the Aladdin Mantle Lamp Company, now located in Clarksville, TN.

The firm has produced a wide variety of oil lamps, of which this one with the classic drape motif of the shade is a prime example. I showed the pictures of the lamp to Bill Cunningham, Virginia’s greatest oil lamp authority, and am pleased to report that he was duly impressed, especially by the original paperwork having survived across three generations.

The lamp is typical of the Aladdin production of the early years. Parlor lamps continue to be in demand, and they sell well in both the auction and estate sale venues, as well as in antiques shops. This one is worth $350, with a significant part of the value coming from the booklet. The overall design of Aladdin lamps endures, and this one would sell well, but its most appealing attribute is its survival in the same family over the past 94 years. In 1920, someone had a nice Christmas present; one which has carried on for almost a century.

Henry Lane Hull and his wife, Lisa, operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie duPont Hwy. in Wicomico Church, VA. Write to P.O. Box 35, Wicomico Church, VA 22579 or e-mail questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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