How do I Choose the Best Antique Oil Lamps?

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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2019
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Antique oil lamps are highly collectible and prized by many collectors. Choosing the best ones requires you to have a clear idea of what you are looking for to help select lamps that suit your preferences and budget. It's a good idea to decide if you want the oil lamps to be functional or merely decorative, since this will affect purchase decisions. When shopping for genuine antique oil lamps, remember that in most cases they are extremely old and unlikely to be in perfect condition. Many lamps might be missing parts, have noticeable repairs, or contain replacement pieces; these factors may affect their monetary value.

There are many people who collect antique oil lamps. Many of these lamps are beautiful and decorative, and they are also a collection that can be useful. If all of the parts of the lamp are intact, the lamps are usually able to be lit. They operate by dipping an absorbent piece of cloth known as a wick into oil, which is then lit like a candle as a source of light. There are few moving parts and no electrical components so there is very little to malfunction. Many collectors use their antique oil lamps for outdoor or decorative lighting purposes, and they also make ideal emergency light sources during power outages.


There are many places to purchase antique oil lamps. Some of the best places to find them include antique shops, second hand stores, yard sales, and on the Internet. When purchasing oils lamps, it's a good idea to decide on their intended use so you know what features to look for. If your main focus is decorative lamps, the factors that should be considered are appearance and your own personal preferences such as style, period of manufacture materials, and color. If you intend to use the oil lamps for lighting, make sure that all of the parts are present and operational; this includes the the oil reservoir, wick, burner assembly and the chimney, which is like a tall glass lampshade.

When you're in the market for antique oil lamps, remember that it's hard to find a perfect example. Due to their age, many antique oil lamps have flaws that may or may not affect their value including repairs, replacement parts, or missing pieces. If repairs are well done and blend in, and the replacement parts are the correct ones for the lamp, these flaws will generally have minimal negative effect on value. Missing pieces, noticeable repairs, or incorrect replacement parts can reduce a lamp's value, but if you really love the piece it can still be a worthwhile purchase. Make sure to find lamps that you will truly enjoy owning and that fit your budget.


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