Nothing screams “old timey” more than a vintage oil lamp. There are variety of types, but what comes to mind is a clear glass sconce with a flame hanging on the wall. For the vintage collector, oil lamps are a perfect addition and will be fun to hunt down.

Before electricity, vintage oil lamps were a form of light to avoid using candles and open flames. However, they have been around much longer than you think.

History of Vintage Oil Lamps

Vintage oil lamps use, well, an oil-based fuel source. Oil lamps have been around since 4500 BC, and they looked much different. They were a round bowl lamp made of stone to hold the oil and light it. Variations of the oil lamp were used as alternatives to candles while also using a wick in many different eras of civilization.

Oil lamps also have context in religion. The New Testament references oil lamps, and they were commonly used in Hindu Temples. The lamps were made of stone or clay. Oil lamps are also used in traditional Chinese shrines.

Stone and clay lamps have been around for centuries, but the vintage lamps we are talking about today came into being in1780. Until this time, oil lamps were still used in their ancient forms of clay and stone. This was called an Argand lamp and was the start of vintage oil lamps.

In the Industrial Age, vintage oil lamps were used in carriages, and in the 1860s the first oil lamps were used on bicycles. Vintage oil lamps have a place in history all over the world.

Buying Vintage Oil Lamps

If you are a collector on the hunt for antiques, there are many places to shop for these things. Antique shops and estate sales are good places to look in the real world. You can always sift through the internet to find what you are looking for and it will be much less time consuming.

The lamps can be incredibly elegant in style, and most of the time they will still work. If you are not an antique collector, you may be on the hunt for vintage oil lamps to accompany your style. They can get pretty pricy as most of them are considered antiques, so when you are looking be sure to know what kind you want so you can stay within your budget.

Oil Lamp vs Kerosene Lamp

One of the main questions that can come up when you’re searching for vintage oil lamps is whether an oil lamp is the same thing as a kerosene lamp. The answer is that oil and kerosene lamps are in the same family, but that lamp oil produces less pollutants than a kerosene lamp. When you see a kerosene lamp, think campfire lighting. Oil lamps are for use in the house. Vintage oil lamps also smell better than kerosene lamps do.

What Kind of Oil Do Vintage Oil Lamps Use?

When you’re trying to figure out what to put in your vintage oil lamp, the vague term “lamp oil” is what will show up in a search. So, what is it? What kind of oil are you supposed to put in the lamp? The good news is most lamp oil is not very expensive. Lamp oil is hydrocarbon oil that is flammable and is usually a purified form of kerosene.

Another name for the lamp oil is “liquid paraffin.” You can also purchase oil with colors in it to up your ambiance game. Overall, it is safe to use and there are also alternative ways to make it at home yourself. You can choose lamps that have wicks, or do not have them depending on preference.

When you are looking for vintage oil lamps, keep in mind the style you are looking for as you narrow down your search. Antique stores are going to be your best bet for in person vintage oil lamp buying, and if you are looking online be sure to check out eBay. Good luck on your hunt to find the perfect vintage oil lamp.