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Brass whale oil lamp

Date: 19th century
Overall: 199 mm, 1.69 kg
Medium: Brass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Whale oil lamp
Object No: 00006602

User Terms

    Whale oil lamps such as this brass one, were used for decades. Spermaceti, a waxy liquid found in the large head cavity of sperm whales, made high-quality clean burning candles. Oil was the primary reason for whale hunting.
    SignificanceThis whale oil lamp is typical of the type of lamps found in homes during the 19th century.
    HistoryWhaling played an essential part in 19th century life. Industry and households depended on whale products for which there was no substitute. Whale oil was used for lighting and lubrication until 1860 when kerosene and petroleum started to gain popularity. The pure clean oil from sperm whales was a superior source of lighting and the finest candles were made from the whale's wax-like spermaceti. The oil was also used in the manufacture of hundreds of commodities, most notably soap and margarine. Light and flexible, baleen - the bristle-fringed plates found in the jaws of baleen whales - had many uses in objects which today would be made out of plastic.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Brass gimble whale oil lamp with twin wick

    Web title: Brass whale oil lamp

    Collection title: Tilbrook collection

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