It isn’t until the power goes out that we consider what the average evening was like before electric light. The ill-prepared are plunged back in history to a time when candles served as the best form of illumination. The better equipped turn to the hurricane oil lantern, which provides the light of at least a half dozen candles. What is romantic to us now was miraculous back in 1783 when a Swiss physicist discovered a way to increase the flame’s power with the use of oil, a wick, a glass funnel, and oxygen. With the turn of a small knob, the flame could be controlled according to the length of the wick—a luxury never before known. Today hurricane lanterns are as likely to be used for entertaining in the garden and camping as they are for use in storms. Here are some classic oil-burning examples.
Five to Buy
Object Lessons columnist Megan Wilson is the owner of Ancient Industries and curator of the Remodelista 100 presented in the Remodelista book. Watch for her column every Tuesday, and have a look at her past lessons, including The Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket and The Classic Canvas Tote Bag. We featured her Connecticut shop in our post Purveyor of the Practical and the Timeless.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on August 19, 2014.