Label

George Washington was at the forefront of style and technology when he purchased “2 pair[s] Patent Lamps” for the Presidential mansion. The classically inspired, urn-shaped body embellished with bright-cut engraved foliate bands and garlands, serves as the oil reservoir that feeds a tubular wick held between two concentric metal tubes. The patented design by inventor François-Pierre Aimé Argand dramatically improved airflow, thereby producing a brighter flame that burned longer and produced less smoke than earlier oil lamps and candles. Impressed with their ability, Washington brought them back to Mount Vernon.

See also Argand lamp, W-13/B.1-B.2.

Description

A1:
Fused silverplate Argand-type wall lamp with octagonal urn-shaped font decorated with bright-cut engraving of foliate bands and garlands; the font is affixed to a flared and stepped base that sits atop an integral cylindrical pedestal and spooled foot that screws into a baluster-shaped arm protruding from a circular wall plate affixed with three screws; attached to the pedestal is a swelled and faceted arm that projects horizontally from the left to support a hollow cylinder; the footed cylinder features a double row of foliate piercing at the base, a sheet iron central draft burner, and an iron and brass rack-and-pinion mechanism for elevating the wick.

A2:
Cylindrical hand blown glass chimney with pinched shoulders; set into a brass collar.

Date

c. 1790-1797


People


Geography


Material/Technique

Fused silverplate on copper, brass, tin, glass


Dimensions

Overall (H x W x D): 16 1/8 in. x 7 3/4 in. x 4 in. (40.96 cm x 19.69 cm x 10.16 cm)

19.7 cm41 cm10.2 cm

* Object size compared to a tennis ball


Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Charles A. Conrad, 1893


Marks

A.1:
Maker’s mark stamped at foot of front facet of font body: illegible, two masses appear to join above a jagged edge featuring three peaks. See Object File for image.


Object Number

W-13/A


Colors (Beta)


Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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