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Colonial Era "Welcome" Window Lamps - Flickering Oil Lamps

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Historic homes in this area of Pennsylvania often feature candles or lamps in the windows (especially those with "4 over 4" or "3 over 3" glazed sash windows). It is thought that this was done all the way back through colonial times to signal a welcome house - visitors would have a warm and cheery stay. Well it certainly looks picturesque and features in many a classic painting scene and postcard. These homes typically have stone walls and very deep window sills as a result - plenty of room to decorate and illuminate!

My chosen oil lamp to convert and automate all the ground floor windows are the Otto Muller "Miracle" lamps of the 1880's - these were simple brass designs and mass produced for worldwide export - they come up often in antique stores, auctions and online sales. They are a central 1" draft tube lamp, so electrification is straight forward and does not compromise the lamp bowl and wick features (so the process can be reversed to return to oil). The hard part was finding a suitable lamp holder and bulb, along with the narrower diameter glass chimneys for these antique lamps. I found the Dannon products work well and have run them for 3 years without incident, or need for replacement - even the flicker bulbs (in LED / 1 watt). The Chimneys are available from a worldwide specialist lamp supplier - I keep inventory and will look to become a distributor as the store grows online and in the barn. With all this coming together prototypes were soon built and tested with a time for automatic daily on and off cycles.

When I have completed the lamps and control system for every ground floor window of the main house (10 windows) I will offer extra / additional converted lamps and control systems for sale as well as the components as kit for self build. Contact me with interest and for more details.



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