Vintage Oil Lamps – Collectible & Practical

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One way to save money in housewares is to look for vintage kitchenware and home essentials that you can recycle.

Queen Mary Vintage Oil Lamp

Queen Mary Oil Lamp

This Queen Mary oil lamp is a wonderful example of a vintage item that is still very usable today.  During power outages, this oil lamp provides lighting in our dining area.  It also looks great on the wall shelf.

This particular Queen Mary lamp lost its original glass globe years ago and a replacement lacks the fine detail typical of the classic lamp.

Replacement parts do devalue an antique lamp when it comes to price, but its function is not impaired.  Though you can still find oil lamps with their original globes, those that are intact are treasured, more expensive to buy and highly collectible. If you do find one, you’ve found a treasure.

But if having a workable lamp is your main priority, you can find similar oil lamps at yard sales, collectible outlets and flea markets.  However, there’s a few things you should inspect before buying antique or vintage oil lamps:

  • Turn the wick mechanism to check that it operates well, is not too rusted and seized, and allows the wick to fully protrude out of, or retract into the lamp base.
  • The metal housing should be securely fastened to the lamp and should not be loose to make the lamp unstable.
  • The metal clamps or prongs that hold the glass globe should do it well and not be missing, bent out of shape or insecure.
  • The top half of the lamp should be removable from the base to allow you fill the base with oil.  There should be no dents in the metal housing that could hinder unscrewing the top from the base.
  • An absent wick is not necessarily a problem; you can usually find some at hardware outlets. But wider wicks are harder to find.  The wick should be wide enough to work well within the mechanism, but not too wide for it to fold over and create a jam within the housing.

After you bring a vintage oil lamp home, clean all parts and dry metal parts well.  Fill with lamp oil, but only half-way. The lamp will leak if you tip it or move it when overfilled.  If you want to be able to rely on it during a power outage, test it before hand.

You can easily find unscented lamp oil at hardware retailers.  There are scented oils, but these are not recommended if anyone in the home suffers from allergies, asthma or sinus problems.

As you would with candles, use caution when lighting, placing and using oil lamps.  Keep it away from draperies and combustibles when lit and place on a stable table or counter. Always protect the furniture under the base of the lamp.

Though it’s not always easy to tell a vintage lamp from today’s variety, the authenticity of the Queen Mary Lamp was easy to confirm, since the glass of the base has a barely detectable purplish hue, symbolic of antique glass and it also has  ‘Queen Mary’ stamped on the metal housing.

Replica and modern oil lamps are just as practical to own or give as gifts and they make lovely accent pieces.
Check prices of oil lamps and supplies

A good source of information on vintage kitchenware and collectibles is C Dianne Zweig’s Blog


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