New Miniature Lamps in BrassBy Mark Chevenka
New Miniature Lamps in Brass
An American lamp supply company produced a line of new brass miniature oil lamps. Although the new lamps aren't copies of specific old originals, they do resemble vintage miniature oil lamps in general.
There are several distinguishing features which you can use to identify these new pieces. First, none of the lamps are sealed; they can't hold oil or any other liquid (Fig. 9). Of course you can't ask a seller to fill them up with water and watch for leaks, but with a careful inspection you'll see gaps and separations along joints.
The new lamps also have a steel disc in the base virtually never found in vintage metal miniature lamps. The disc is too thin and light to act as a weight. It appears to be used solely to strengthen the base's rim.
Next, look at the filler neck where you would fill the lamp with oil. Filler caps on these new lamps have two prongs which fit matching notches in the filler collar (Fig. 11). Virtually all vintage filler caps are threaded.
All these new lamps come with new brass burners with wick raising knobs marked "Nutmeg Approved." Vintage Nutmeg burners were produced by Plume and Atwood Manufacturing. But no authentic pre-1940 Nutmeg wick raising knob was ever marked Nutmeg. Any knob with a mark that includes the word Nutmeg is a reproduction lamp part. Of course, a new burner doesn't necessarily mean the lamp base is new, but new burners should make you extra cautious.
A variety of new glass shades are available to fit the new miniature lamps. A prospective buyer, though, should inspect the base and burner before concerning themselves with the shade. It's a lot easier to detect the new bases and burners. If the base and burner are new, it's almost a certainty the shade will be new. Many more old metal bases than glass shades have survived. Would anyone really put a genuinely old shade on a new base when old bases are relatively easy to find?