Books About Miniature Lamps and About Other Antique Lighting
Bidstracker identifies the miniature lamps it tracks and reports on by using five "standard" reference books. For your convenience and to assist you in using the Bidstracker database, these books are described below and links to sites at which you can purchase them are provided. When you use these links to purchase a book, Bidstracker will receive a modest commission from the bookseller. These commissions are used to offset the costs of maintaining Bidstracker and enable us to continue to offer Bidstracker as a free service to collectors and other interested parties. In addition to the 5 books used by Bidstracker, we have provided information on and links to purchase other books which we believe to be of value and use to antique lighting collectors.
The Five "Standard" Reference Books
|Miniature Lamps by Frank
R. & Ruth E. Smith, 1968. If you only have one book about
miniature lamps, it should be this one. Over 75% of the lamps tracked
in the Bidstracker database are shown in the more than 625 photos of lamps
(most in black and white) contained in this book. In addition to the photos
and descriptive information about the lamps, the book contains about 30
pages of background information and copies of some 14 relevant U.S. patents
on lighting. Referred to in Bidstracker as "S1", this book documents
the most frequently seen as well as some fairly rare antique miniature
lamps. First published in 1968,this book is now out of print and
getting increasingly hard to find. Used and sometimes new copies can
usually be found at Amazon. Click on the "Buy From Amazon.com" link at the
left to see about getting a copy. If it's not available from Amazon,
contact us at email@example.com
We try to keep a few copies on hand and if we have one we'll quote you a price;
alternatively we will direct you to another source where you can get a copy.
Miniature Lamps II by Ruth E. Smith,
2000. Referred to in the
Bidstracker database as "S2", about 18% of the lamps in the Bidstracker database are pictured in this book. Originally published
in 1992 and revised and expanded in 2000, the book provides photos and
descriptions of over 560 antique miniature oil lamps. Fifty of these
photos are in full color, the remainder in black and white. While some
of the lamps shown in this book are found quite commonly, the great majority
of the lamps pictured are harder to find and, consequently, tend to be more
addition to the photos of the lamps, the book has some 35 pages of
background information on miniature lamps (much of it a repeat of
information provided in the original "Miniature Lamps" book).
The revised Second Edition contains estimated values (see the description of
the "Price Guide" below for a word about these "book" values) for each of
the lamps as well as photos of about 20 lamps which were not in the 1992
edition. This book is a
valuable addition to the original and should be in every collector's
library. The book is still in print and is, generally, quite
available. Click on the "Buy From Amazon.com" link to
the left to order
Miniature Victorian Lamps by Marjorie
Hulsebus, 1996. Referred to in the Bidstracker database as "H",
this book contains over 440 full-color photographs miniature lamps which
are, by and large, much harder to find than those pictured in the Smith
books. The book also contains 2 very useful pages of photos of newer,
or reproduced, lamps. (A number of these newer lamps are tracked
in Bidstracker and some of them sell for surprisingly high prices).
The photos in this book are of excellent quality. The descriptions of
the lamps are concise and, unfortunately, provide little historical
background. An estimated value is included for each of the lamps in this
book. Note, however, that this book was published in 1996 and the
estimated values were revised and republished in the 1998 "Price Guide" (see
below). Read the description of the "Price Guide" (below) for a word
about these "book" values. Despite the limited background information
and the outdated "values" this is an important book for collectors. It
is available both new and used. To order this book, click on the "Buy
From Amazon.com" link on the left.
Miniature Lamps of the Victorian Era
by Marjorie Hulsebus, 2004. This is the newest of the books about
Miniature Lamps, and was compile by Marjorie Hulsebus with the assistance of
a good number of miniature lamp collectors who contributed photographs and
descriptions of their previously unlisted lamps to her as she was preparing
the book. It is referred to in Bidstracker as "H2"; note that only a
few of the lamps included in this book have shown up, so far, on eBay;
many of the lamps in the book are quite scarce, which is one reason they
were not documented in the earlier books. Like the 2nd and 3rd books,
this one also contains estimated values for the pictured lamps. In
addition to the more than 585 full color photographs of lamps which were not
covered in any of the 3 preceding books, this book contains additional
information on reproductions (which are becoming an increasing problem for
serious collectors of the antique lamps) and an interesting section on
miniature lamps from Europe (a topic not really dealt with in any of the
other books). This book is a valuable addition to the literature of
miniature antique lighting. Click on the "Buy From Amazon.com" link at
the left to order your copy.
Those Fascinating Little Lamps by
John F. Solverson, 1988. This book, published after both of the
Smith books first appeared (and before either of the Hulsebus books) takes a
somewhat different approach to the topic than any of the other books.
It does include a large number of color photographs (and cross-references
these to the 2 Smith books--most but not all of the lamps in this book are
covered in those books), but does not attempt to be comprehensive.
Rather it groups the lamps by certain characteristics that Solverson felt
were important (e.g. type of glass, size of lamp, type of burner, stem
lamps, size, etc.) and provides multiple examples of each type.
Perhaps more important, Solverson provides some addition description of the
key aspects of each of the categories. Solverson's descriptive
information provides valuable insights and can be especially helpful to the
beginning collector. As indicated above, a small number of the lamps
in this book are not covered in the other books. To the degree that
these lamps have appeared on eBay, they are tracked in Bidstracker with the
identifier "So". Although now out-of-print, it is still possible to
obtain copies of this useful little (112 pages) book. Click on the
"Buy From Amazon.com" link at the left to get your copy.
Other Books of Interest to the Antique Lighting Collector
The Price Guide for Miniature Lamps
by Marjorie Hulsebus, 1998. This interesting little volume
intended as a "companion" to the 2 Smith books and the first Hulsebus book,
contains estimated values (as of 1998) for most of the lamps shown in the
those 3 books. For a number of the lamps, the values are separately
detailed for each of several variations of that lamp. This breakdown by
variation provides additional information on what variations exist.
That information was often left out of the books when they were published or
was later found to be incomplete. Also provided for each lamp is
an estimated rating of its relative scarcity. The values in the book
were developed based on estimates provided by a panel of expert miniature
lamp collectors. For the first Smith and the first Hulsebus book, the
values published in this volume are the most current available. The
values contained within the second edition of the second Smith book
supercede the values published here. These published "book" values can
be very useful--especially as rough guides to the values of rarely seen
lamps and for purposes of valuing lamps within a collection for insurance
purposes. But these published values may not represent true market
values. In fact, it was the discrepancy between these "book" values
and what we saw both on eBay and at live auctions we attended that led us to
develop and publish Bidstracker. We believe that the Bidstracker
values give you a better idea of the amount you can expect to pay (or
receive) for a given lamp. Because Bidstracker is being constantly
updated, the values it reports are not static and change over time as the
market changes. We also find the scarcity ratings in this book to be
helpful (but then again often find that lamps considered to be "Common" in
the book are hardly ever seen on eBay, while others rated as "Scarce" show
up quite frequently). Whatever the shortcomings of published "book"
values, every collector should have the most recent published book values.
Click on the "Buy From Amazon.com" link at the left to get your copy of
these 1998 values.
The Price Guide for Miniature Lamps by Marjorie Hulsebus, 2006. This is the newest edition of the book shown above. It contains revised prices based on expert judgment and experience. The availability ratings (Common, Scarce, Rare, etc.) have also been revised and some new information on judging lamp condition has been added along with definitions of terms commonly used to describe a lamp's condition (e.g, "bruise", "flea-bite", "flake").
The Lamp Collector's Guide, Second Edition by John Filson Graff, Jr., 2004. An extremely useful compendium of lots of information about non-electric lighting burners, wicks, chimneys and related lighting paraphernalia. As the introduction says, this book "is NOT a 'great read!' No lurid sex scenes and no plot at all". But it does have all kinds of interesting information and pictures of non-electric lighting hardware. The Lamp Collector's Guide is a must-have reference for the serious lighting collector/enthusiast. Published by the author as a spiral bound volume with clear plastic covers, it is available only by mail-order from:
The cost of the book is $30 plus $1.85 postage (via Media Mail) to anywhere in the U.S. for a total of $31.85. (Pennsylvania Residents: Please add $1.80--6%--sales tax). (Non-U.S. purchasers, contact the author for shipping costs). For further information, the author (Fil Graff) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to let him know that you were referred to him and the Guide by Bidstracker (Dept BT).
The Evolution of the Night Lamp by
Ann Gilbert McDonald, 1979. This is the most scholarly of the
several books written about Night, or Miniature Oil lamps. The author,
McDonald, both a writer and an antique dealer, earned a Ph.D. in Literature
and her academic background adds greatly to the value of this book.
While it contains many photographs, both in black and white and in color,
the real attraction of the book is the detailed history of the manufacturers
of the lamps. Much valuable information is given about when a
particular lamp first appeared, where it was advertised and what observers
of the glass industry had to say about it. Most of the lamps shown and
discussed are cross referenced to the first Smith book (which was the only
miniature lamp reference at the time this book was published). While McDonald does not cover as many lamps as do
the Smiths, she provides a great deal more information on most of them.
This is an oversize (11 1/2" x 8 3/4") and attractive volume. Copies can be hard to
find and can be quite expensive. But if you want to know more than the
other books provide about the history and background of miniature lamps, it
is a must have book. Click on the "Buy From Amazon.com"
link to obtain a copy at a reasonable price. If Amazon does not have
this book, contact us at
email@example.com and we may be able to direct to you to another
Oil Lamps: The Kerosene Era in North
America by Catherine M. V. Thuro, 1976. This is the first of 3
books on antique lighting by one of the most well-known and respected
authorities on the subject. The book concentrates on full-size table
lamps and most of the text and photos focus on the bases of the lamps.
There are, however, useful sections on accessories (e.g. match holders),
collars, burners, chimneys and even on kerosene heating. Miniature
lamps are given only passing mention (less than 3 pages). While the
coverage of lighting topics in this book is broad emphasis is given to the
various glass manufacturers and the glass manufacturing process. This
book is a fundamental reference on kerosene lighting and belongs in every
collector's library. To get a copy, click on the "Buy From Amazon.com"
link at the left.
Oil Lamps II: Glass Kerosene
Lamps by Catherine M. V. Thuro, 1994. Continuing where Thuro's
first book left off, this book continues to document the development and
manufacture of full-size glass table lamps. It includes information on
European lamps and lamp manufacturing and includes more photographs of
fancier, art glass lamps than in the first book. Click on the link to
the left to order this book from Amazon.
Oil Lamps 3: Victorian Kerosene Lighting, 1860-1900, Vol. 3
Oil Lamps 3: Victorian Kerosene
Lighting 1860-1900 by Catherine M. V. Thuro, 2001. Oil lamps are
showcased in hundreds of black and white and color photographs throughout
these pages, with greater emphasis on diversity, trimmings, and the probable
placement in the home. Lighting fixtures such as hall, hanging, or bracket
lamps reveal that Victorian homeowners had an astounding selection from
which to choose. The many catalog illustrations and advertisements serve to
date lamps and perhaps identify their manufacturer. This third volume is
both a visual feast and a wealth of information for readers and collectors.
Clicking on the link on the left will take you to Barnes & Noble from whom
this book is currently available.
New Light on Old Lamps by Larry
Freeman, 1968. This older book, now out-of-print but
still occasionally available, attempts to cover the full range of antique
lighting from early primitive lighting (Betty lamps, for example), through
early electric lighting and includes a chapter on "Glass Night Lamps" by
Edward A. Rushford. While the book has many illustrations and some
photographs of old lamps, all of the photographs are in black and white and
of less than stellar quality. The value in the book is more from the
background information than from the photographs (as opposed to the 2 Smith
and 2 Hulsebus books in which the greater value is in the photographs rather
than the textual information). Although old, the book is still of
interest to the collector wishing to learn more about the subject. As
always, click on the link to the left to order this book.
Colonial and Early American Lighting
by Arthur Haywood, 1962. Another older book about a broad range
of antique lighting, this book was originally written in 1923 and was
updated, expanded and reprinted by Dover Publications in 1962. It is
written in a somewhat informal narrative style with a great deal of emphasis
on the provenance of the specific lamps shown in the various black and white
photographs. Click on the "Buy From Amazon.com" links above to
obtain a copy, either used or new.
Classic Lanterns by Dennis Pearson,
1999. While lanterns are a collecting category
unto themselves, there is some overlap and common interest among lantern
collectors and miniature lamp collectors. A few "skater's" lanterns or
other smaller lanterns have found their way into the miniature lamp books,
and thus into the Bidstracker database. This book is a photographic
investigation of the history, companies, people, places, uses of lanterns
and of the lanterns themselves. Some of the lanterns are so rare they
have never been photographed before. Each lantern is described in detail.
The book includes over 200 photos and illustrations (over 30 in color) and
provides detailed restoration information. Click on the link to the
left to buy your copy.
Lanterns That Lit Our World by
Anthony Hobson, 1991. This little soft cover book has lots of
information about lanterns, how they work and how they were made. The
book dissects lanterns and discusses each of the key parts. After the
more general discussion, the book devotes individual chapters to each of the
major lantern manufacturers, shows illustrations of their products and
discusses their history.
|Lanterns That Lit Our World Book Two by Anthony Hobson, 1997. In the world of antique lighting, it seems as if there are always more devices to document and more to say (as evidenced by the two Smith books, the two Hulsebus books and the three Thuro books). This second of the books on old lanterns by Anthony Hobson begins where the first book left off--with a discussion of additional types of lanterns, additional manufacturers and additional examples.|