Lamp, whale oil with clock
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This whale oil lamp is made of pewter. It stands on a tall, slender cylindrical stem. The reservoir is an inverted pear shaped bulb surrounded by a strap of thinly hammered pewter numbered 1 to 12 in Roman numerals. The reservoir leads to a spout shaped wick opening. (see also 68.1.1113) Whale oil was highly prized from 1750 to 1850 as the best lamp oil fuel. It burned at a very steady rate, very brightly and with little smoke. Oil from the skull cavity of the spermaceti whale was the finest quality and was a major reason the whaling industry was so profitable. Because whale oil burned so evenly, it could be depended on to keep time. The Roman numerals on the pewter strip served as a clock. For each hour the whale oil burnt, the oil lowered to the next marked level and another hour had passed. American Communities in History; Communities and Geography; How we learn about communities; Whaling Slide Show; Inventions Multimedia Time Line; School Museum; Introduction of artifacts as a primary source; What's That Relic?; Settling in the Midwest 16 History; 18 Social Systems; 13 Science, Technology and Society
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University Library|
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