Brass Argand Lamp, ca. 1835

Value (2010) | $8,000 Insurance$10,000 Insurance
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GUEST:
My grandmother had it, and we're not sure where she got it. We're thinking either a wedding present or perhaps her parents gave it to her. Don't know the age, don't really know where it came from.

APPRAISER:
Okay, well, it's a kind of lamp that we don't see all that often. It's called an Argand lamp. It's named after its Swiss inventor named Argand. And the design was developed in the 1780s. This lamp is a little later than that, but the thing that made the lamp really so special was a circular wick. So instead of having a straight wick like a typical lamp, the circular wick created about... I'd probably guess about six times the light that a candle would produce. So they were all the rage. They were something that was very popular. It was sort of the greatest thing since sliced bread as far as home lighting went. They were popular with sort of these upwardly mobile young homeowners, and they were pushed as being really the thing that you had to have. They burned whale oil. And it doesn't seem to have any marks on it as far as the manufacturer, but it's probably English. There were a number of firms both in Britain and France that made these. It does have a little label here that says "B. Gardiner," and that's for "Baldwin Gardiner," who was a retailer in New York City, where he would have sold these through his showroom and he would’ve contacted the manufacturer and he would’ve asked them to put the label on them. It's a great form. I mean, it's really... it's gutsy, it's sort of over the top, it has decoration everywhere. And when you think about 19th-century America, you don't think of this much style until you get to the Victorian era. So it was really sort of a bridge from the, probably, 1830s.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
Then it has these etched globes. They are a little different from each other. I think one's a replacement.

GUEST:
I believe one is.

APPRAISER:
And then these lusters you can see in front. And these were there for a decorative purpose. They were also there to help reflect the light. You'd get a lot from this. It would be like having a halogen lamp in your house.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
I think you mentioned that you have two others at home.

GUEST:
Yes, we have a set of three. One has a right arm, one has a left arm, and then this one would be the centerpiece.

APPRAISER:
People who decorate in a really high American classical style or early 19th-century style love these, because they really are sort of a showstopper. And if you were to try to find something similar in a shop, you'd expect a retail replacement price to be probably somewhere in the $8,000 to $10,000 range, so they're definitely a prize possession. The pair that you have of side lamps that are the single arm certainly would make this more compelling because it would be the whole intact three-piece garniture.

GUEST:
The whole set.

APPRAISER:
And then you're probably looking in the $10,000 to $15,000 range.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Thanks again for bringing them in, a treat to see.

GUEST:
Oh, it's been fun. Thank you.

APPRAISER:
Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Skinner, Inc.
Marlborough, Massachusetts
Skinner, Inc.
Appraised value (2010)
$8,000 Insurance$10,000 Insurance
Event
San Diego, CA (June 12, 2010)
Period
19th Century
Form
Lamp
Material
Brass, Glass, Metal

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