BERLIN – Thanks to a generous donation from the Arcadia Questers of Ocean Pines, the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum has acquired a Double Argand Banquet Lamp for the museum’s dining room.
According to former director Linda Ayres, “Argand lamps were an 18th-century innovation, patented in the 1780s by a Swiss scientist living in England, Aime Argand. His invention was the first basic change in lamps in hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Argand lamps were prized because they were cleaner than regular oil lamps – they did not smoke – they gave off more light than candles, and their wicks did not need to be trimmed as often. They were more expensive than other oil lamps, so they were first used by the upper classes (George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both had them). It wasn’t until about 1850 that the middle class had access to the lamps. After the 1860s, kerosene lamps replaced Argand. The lamps used whale oil at first, then vegetable oils. The fuel reservoir was above the burner and used the law of gravity to distribute it. The hollow wick in the glass chimneys allowed for ample air circulation.”
Ayres added, “The museum’s lamp was made around 1835. Each burner on this example is labeled ‘Lewis Veron & Co./Philadelphia.’ Veron was a fancy goods retailer in Philadelphia in the 19th century. Thomas Messenger and Sons of England was the likely maker of the lamp. Veron often sold his lamps in Philadelphia. Gilded details include classical wreaths, lion masks, and acanthus leaves. The glass has been replaced with museum-quality reproductions.”
The Argand lamp is just one of many Arcadia Questers’ contributions to the Calvin B. Taylor House Museum. The organization’s continued support has enabled the Board of Directors to furnish the historic house with period appropriate pieces, helping move closer to its goal of presenting visitors with an historically accurate view of a local 1800s home.
Additional Questers’ donations include several period candlesticks, a specially made floorcloth for the small front sitting room and an 1832 lithograph of “Andrew Jackson: At the Hermitage 1832”, which adorns the museum’s dining room.