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.


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.

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


c. 1790-1797




Fused silverplate on copper, brass, tin, glass


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


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


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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