With the great invention of electricity, oil lamps are now considered to be an antique and a collector’s item. When you buy or inherit an antique oil lamp, you are also inheriting a piece of history from the culture where the lamp was made. These oil lamps give us an idea of the culture the lamp is from as well as a little information on the owner’s social status.

Antique oil lamps were used as the primary light source for many years. Until about the 3rd century BC, oil lamps were made using the crude potter’s wheel. After this time period, the Egyptians and Greeks introduced oil lamps that were made by using molds. This new way of making oil lamps eventually made its way to the west and the mold technique was then used by everyone until about the 8th century AD.   

While the main purpose of oil lamps was to provide light during the night, they were also used for funerary and votive purposes. The oil lamps were a very important part of religion; especially Christianity where the light paved the way to righteousness. The oil lamps were also occasionally buried with the dead as a way for the soul to find its way to the hereafter. In the Indian religion, the oil lamps were used during marriages as a way to keep evil away.

There are many different types of fuel that are used in oil lamps depending on where the lamp was made. There is olive oil, which was used mainly by the Western Nations. Although these oils were not quite as popular, the people in the Western Nations also used extracts such as plants, nuts, fish oil and petroleum. While many people associate antique oil lamps with the old west, other countries made and used oil lamps too. The Egyptians used castor oil in their lamps and India used mustard, peanut or sesame oil in theirs.

Today antique oil lamps can be used as decorations around your house or even as an additional light source for when the power goes out. As you start collecting oil lamps, you will find that most antique oil lamps have a handle on the top. You can use this handle to help screw the oil lamp into a wall, or you can even use the lamps as decorative lights in your backyard. You can find poles that will stick in the ground that have hooks which will allow you to hang the oil lamp from them. Make sure to be careful when doing either of these things as oil lamps are flammable and can cause fires. By collecting antique oil lamps, you can help preserve a piece of history!