In 1907, when our money was made from something of intrinsic value, the U.S. Mint introduced a new design for the $20 gold piece.
The design of this coin, by Augustus St. Gaudens, lasted until possession of gold money was made illegal in 1933 and may be the most exquisitely gorgeous coin design of all time. The obverse (front) design survives, though, on the gold bullion coins now being offered by the Mint.
In 1928, Duesenberg introduced the Model J. A more elegantly beautiful car was never made. When production ceased in 1937 about 500 of them had been built. (About half of those still survive.)
Several other automobile marques deserve to be recognized for the allure of their design, especially those built in the early 1930s: Packard and Cadillac, Chrysler and Cord, and a few of the car makers in Europe, above all, Bugatti. And there are other lovely coins to be considered from around the world, but each of these, the St. Gaudens double eagle and the Duesenberg Model J (and SJ and so on) is a little-debated epitome of its kind.
In these, as in many other products and endeavors, from music to fine food, it is the artistry that compels the senses to notice and to yearn for more of the same.
Starting with the Model 1 in 1909, the Aladdin lamp itself set a new apex — a new standard — of design for home lighting. The Model A, introduced in 1932 with the side-draft burner, opened the way for glass fonts — and a new elegance in oil lamp design.
I think this development spawned examples that can be considered the epitome of an oil lamp’s beauty, which is expressed throughout successive models (Model B through Model 23) in combinations of components.
The Aladdin lamp, to me, is three things. First, it is a practical back-up source of light. I live in the northern half of Maine, and, for over 50 years, a lakeside camp has been my alternate summer residence. Electricity is fickle here. A home without a couple of oil lamps is very dark in the evening when the power fails.
Second, I like beautiful things, especially things that express the grace, the charm, and the refinement of times past. And they are no longer things of the present because people have accepted substitutes over time — new designs, new standards of artistry, new technology. Nowadays I’m driving a Subaru and carrying a cell phone (with “flashlight” app) for emergency lighting paid for with a credit card. If it were up to me, we would still be driving Duesenbergs and paying for Aladdin lamps with gold coins. Fortunately, we can still buy brand new Aladdin lamps, and we can rebuild used ones from old parts.
Third, I like to collect and restore old things that have not been damaged beyond recovery. I am not an expert, either on their history or the best ways to operate them. But I’m getting there, as I have done with numerous other classes of treasures.
I have at least ten Aladdin lamps from various eras and in various models, some spare mantles and wicks, and a couple of Rayo wrecks awaiting restoration. (Rayo was a company that made similar lamps.) I have some printed resources. I have discovered several useful sites on line. At this site on the web I expect to share my progress in rebuilding older models, share copies of my printed materials, and quote from or list links to those internet sites that have helped me.
What’s more, and perhaps more helpful, I want to bring together in this one place the best of each of these resources: advice, history, do’s and don’t’s, varieties of lamps and parts, instructions for use, and all else I can put my hands on.
For openers, therefore, I’ll list some web sites right here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/196638150545/ (Aladdin Oil Lamps collectors Knights)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/861944313837548/ (Aladdin Lamp Collectors, buy, sell, trade)
A lamp drives back the darkness. Darkness has devised no tool that sends out its own rays against the light.