Realizing that any off-grid system is vulnerable to numerous component failures, I am always on the lookout for ways to keep our family up and running regardless of whether our system is functioning or we are experiencing our own black out. Wringers, Coleman lights and butter churns call my name. Junk that nobody else wants (or even knows what it is) looks like a treasure trove of practicality to this country woman.
I never met an oil lamp I didn't like (except maybe an Aladdin, but that's another story), but recently I have been particularly keen on finding a nice hanging lamp. After looking briefly on Ebay (I would have had to sell a kidney to buy one of those beauties) I turned to our local Craigslist. Month after month I searched in vain. I found that hanging lamps were rare and the ones I found were extraordinarily expensive. Still, I hoped that I would stumble upon a pretty, functioning lamp in my price range.
Perseverance paid off, and I found a unique brass lamp that came from an elderly man's estate. From what I could tell, it was completely intact, nicely preserved and in beautiful shape. It had been used, but very lightly. The current owners had never used it and had no idea if it was functioning. I bought it for the tidy sum of $50 and brought it home for Sir Knights inspection.
After examining the lamp, Sir Knight deemed it usable so we filled it with lamp oil, raised the wick and lit it. Wow! The amount of light it put out was incredible for a simple oil lamp. It had a round wick instead of a flat wick and the difference was incredible. A flame spreader over the top of the wick spread the flame into the specially belled chimney creating a surprising quality and quantity of illumination. The lamp fit into an integral frame with a shade and smoke bell (to keep the smoke from damaging the ceiling). The underneath of the shade is painted a creamy white so that more light will be reflected, but the rest of the lamp is shiny brass.
Not long after we brought our new prize home, we received the latest Lehman's catalog in the mail. As a matter of ritual, I sat down with my cup of tea and slowly perused the catalog to see if there was some new offering that couldn't be ignored. Much to my amazement my treasured lamp was featured in the lighting section of the newest Lehman's!
My lamp is the Hanging Trawler made by Den Haan in The Netherlands (mine has Holland stamped on the bottom) was actually designed to be hung in a ships cabin. It has a huge oil reservoir (30 hour burn time) and is fired by an Ideal Brenner 20# burner (which is still available, though expensive). It is the center-piece of our living room due to its exceptional lighting quality and simple beauty. Although we were thrilled with our lamp as a one-of-a-kind antique we were ecstatic to find that these lamps were still being made and that we could buy replacement parts relatively inexpensively. Chimneys and wicks are available at Lehman's and burners can be purchased elsewhere online.
Having used Aladdin lamps, Coleman lanterns, a Petromax lantern and simple oil lamps, our Hanging Trawler lamp is a favorite. Although it does not provide as much light as a Coleman Lantern it makes up for it in quiet simplicity. It is the perfect lamp to have in high traffic areas of your home that require significant lighting. It is not ideal for reading, a Coleman or other high-output lamp would suit that need, but for general lighting, it is the perfect blend of style and function.
We give the Hanging Trawler Lamp a 4 out of 5 rating (it is rather expensive). If you are looking for a high quality hanging lamp, we strongly recommend this lamp.