Prior to the invention of electricity, homes were lit with candles and oil based lamps. Oil based lamps produced better light then candles, but also produced a fair amount of smoke and soot. And depending on the oil used, was not often pleasant to smell. Advances in oil lamp design included Aime Argand’s invention of a lamp with a cylindrical wick resulting in a larger flame and a glass tube chimney around the flame to give a stronger flame, direct the draft and make the lamp safer to carry. Kerosene gave the oil lamp a brighter and cleaner flame and after the Civil War was the prominent fuel in oil lamps. In 1908 Victor S. Johnston marketed a new type of home lighting option using an incandescent burner from Germany called the Practicus (or Praktus) combined with a round wick. This design gave a clean, bright non flickering light. He named his lamp style ‘Aladdin’ after the Arabian Nights genie that lived in an oil lamp.
Johnston was very successful in marketing his lamp and by 1932 introduced Aladdin lamps with the decorative lampshades that are often reproduced even today. During WWII the lamps were very popular due to the shortage of copper wire needed for home electrification. By 1956 production of the lamps went to the wayside as even the most remote homes generally had electricity. In 1973 the Aladdin Knights was formed to collect and preserve history of these highly collectible lamps. Reproductions can still be purchased though not from the original Mantle Lamp Company. The lamp in our collection (pictured ) is on loan from a local Sachse Resident.