At the turn of the 20th century, light was still considered a somewhat supernatural commodity. Edison’s light bulb remained a work-in-progress, and the grid to power his new invention barely existed. Thus, a product that would provide users with safe, predictable, and economical illumination needed a name that suggested nothing short of a miracle, like the one that surprised a young lad in a cave, as told in the famous Middle-Eastern folk tale about a boy and his magic lamp. Thus, in 1908, Aladdin Industries Inc. was born.

Founded as the Mantle Lamp Company of America, Aladdin was one of the first U.S. companies to manufacture a kerosene lamp that produced incandescent light by heating a mantle, which is a small piece of cloth that’s been soaked in a variety of metal oxides. The mantle would be heated until it was white hot and glowed, and unlike other fuel lamps of the day, the Aladdin lamp did not require pumping to keep the fuel tank pressurized, it produced no smoke or odor, and the light source itself did not flicker.

The Mantle Lamp Company actually started out selling Practicus table lamps imported from Germany, but by 1909, it had introduced its first Aladdin lamp, which quickly made the company famous. Chicago-based Aladdin hired Plume & Atwood of Waterbury, Connecticut, to build its first brass table lamps, a practice that continued into the 1920s.

Aladdin’s earliest lamps had tall glass chimneys and brass- or nickel-plated bases. The first few models went unmarked, but beginning with Model 5 in 1913, the model number was stamped on the lamp’s wick-raising knob. Of the early models, the first lamps made between 1909 and 1910 are the toughest to collect, but the Model 2 lamps made between September and December of 1910 are actually fairly common. Also tough to find are Models 3 (1911 to 1912) and 10 (1921 to 1922).

In 1919, Aladdin began to diversify its product line, producing thermoses and other domestic items that would eventually lead to its dominance of the school-lunch-box market in the 1950s. But more important to lamp collectors was the purchase, in 1926, of Lippincott Glass. This acquisition allowed Aladdin to manufacture its own chimneys, lampshades, and bases, whose designs are still considered classics of the form.

The vase kerosene lamps from 1930 to 1935 are among the most collectible. Because these lamps had a removable brass fuel pot, the glass bases were prone to chipping, which makes a pristine Aladdin vase lamp from this period a real find. Of these, the short (8 ½-inches tall) Florentine is perhaps the most prized. It was produced in moonstone glass in green, white, or rose (the insides of these vases were painted white, which was even more prone to wear and tear than the vases themselves).

Also collectible are the Venetian Art Craft lamps from this period, especially the ones from 1932 with the so-called straw finishes. Taller than the Florentines, the Venetian Art...

Later in the decade, in 1938, Aladdin introduced its Vertique line, which, like the Venetians, featured lamps that were made of two pieces, only this time the joint was masked by a decorative metal band. Named for the lamp’s vertical ridges, Vertiques were sold in a range of colors including yellow, whose uranium coloring in the glass glowed in the dark when exposed to a black light.

That same year, an ivory, opalescent glass called Alacite was introduced. For the first few years of the product’s life, it was also colored with uranium oxide, but the recipe for the glass changed in 1942 when uranium was reserved for the nation’s war effort. Today, collectors talk about "old formula" and "new formula" when they describe a piece of Alcalite in their collections. Like the yellow Vertiques, old-formula Alcalites glow under a black light.

Old or new, Alacite was a very successful glass for Aladdin. In fact, the most popular Aladdin kerosene lamp ever made was the Alcalite tall Lincoln drape, made throughout the 1940s.

Aladdin made lots of other glass kerosene lamps, the Washington Drape and Simplicity being just two of the most enduring styles. But the company also made one kerosene lamp out of porcelain. Called the Victoria, the lamp featured the same floral decal found on some of the Simplicity models, and had gold-painted bands on its fluted pedestal.

The range of Aladdin electric lamps from the 1930s to the mid-1950s is no less varied than that of its kerosene models. With glass bases and Whip-o-Lite or Parvelour parchment shades, these boudoir, table, and floor lamps came in a dizzying array of shapes and styles. Vogue was one of the company’s most popular brand names, although many adults probably know Aladdin for the Hopalong Cassidy lamps and nightlights they may have had as kids. In addition to moonstone (its trade name was actually Aladex) and Alacalite, some of Aladdin’s lamps were made of a glass called Velvex, which had a mottled appearance.

Other Aladdin electric lamps were made out of an opalescent glass called Opalique, which was a play on both the appearance of the glass and a nod to the famous French designer René Lalique. In fact, Aladdin produced numerous Art Deco, Lalique-inspired lamps, whose bases often featured nudes—from the sculptural G-70 model to the pair of crystal nudes on the G-163 to the G-77 Susie lamp, whose base itself was illuminated, although these are rare and difficult to find.

By 1956, Aladdin had made its last electric lamps. The company continued to manufacture kerosene lamps in the United States until 1963, when brass bases began to be imported from England. By 1977 all manufacturing had moved to Hong Kong, and in 1999, Aladdin Industries sold its legendary lamp division to a group of investors, who renamed their business Aladdin Mantle Lamp Company and continue to produce non-electric Aladdin lamps today.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Lampworks

The Lampworks

Lamp collector and dealer Dan Edminster has put together an incredible reference site on antique lamps and related … [read review or visit site]

Texans Incorporated: The History of a Lamp Company

Texans Incorporated: The History of a Lamp Company

Mark Stevens has created an impressive living memorial to Texans Inc., a 20th century Texas manufacturer of ceramic… [read review or visit site]

The Lamps of H. G. McFaddin

The Lamps of H. G. McFaddin

Bruce Bleier's tribute to the Emeralite and Bellova lampshades made from Czech glass and popularized and distribute… [read review or visit site]

Fairy Lamp Club

Fairy Lamp Club

This incredible site is a stunning showcase for Victorian and contemporary fairy lamps, a style of lamp with a glas… [read review or visit site]

Gas Pressure Lanterns, Lamps and Stoves

Gas Pressure Lanterns, Lamps and Stoves

Terry Marsh’s beautiful showcase of gas-pressure lanterns, lamps, stoves, irons, and heaters from the 1920s o… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Red Venetian Vase Aladdin Oil LampColeman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #13Coleman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #9Coleman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #8Aladdin No. 23 23e60 Wick Paraffin Oil Lamp Kerosene New Old Stock No. P.239904Aladdin Lincoln Drape Lamp Table Lamp With Shade Free Shipping1934 Green Moonstone Cathedral Aladdin Oil LampAladdin Washington Drape LampAladdin Washington Drape LampAladdin Green Glass Corinthian Oil/kerosene Lamp With Chimney & Shade 1930'sAntique Coleman Aladdin Kerosene 10" Lamp Shade Pink Green Griffins Gargoyle Aladdin 1930 40 Rose Pink Moonstone White Glass Oil Kerosene Lamp Milk GlassHand Blown Glass Aladdin LampAntique Aladdin Kerosene Oil Mantle Lamp Model B Crystal-black CorinthianAladdin Lamps A2310 Aluminum Table Lamp With 23 BurnerVintage Aladdin Oil Lamp No. 5Vintage Green Aladdin Washington Drape Kerosene Oil Lamp Model B Nashville Aladdin Oil Lamp BurnerAntique Vintage Aladdin Hanging Oil Lamp Bracket Fixture-cast Iron/aluminumBeautiful Vintage Aladdin Alacite Lamp With Original FinialAntique Aladdin Kerosene/oil/mantle Lamp Model B Nu Type Burner AssemblyVintage Aladdin Railroad Wall Mounted Caboose Oil Lamp Holder Antique R.r. PartsVintage Aladdin Nu-type, Model B, Oil Lamp, With Original ChimneyAladdin Lamp Corinthian With Black Crystal Base.1920's Antique Aladdin No.11 Nickel-plated Lamp Glass Shade + Locxon MantleAladdin Brass Model 23 Oil Lamp With Burner Coleman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #11Coleman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #10Aladdin Model 12 Nickel Oil Lamp , Nice #2Coleman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #1Vintage Aladdin Lamp Model B BurnerColeman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #4Daylite Mantle Kerosene Oil Lamp Competitor Of Aladdin, Original FsColeman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #3Vintage Aladdin Pink Frosted Glass Shade For Oil Lamp Fits 7 Inch FitterAladdin Model G-214 G-248 Pre-war Alacite Electric Table Lamp 1941 Oriental10" Coleman Style Reverse Hand Painted Roses Glass Oil Lamp Shade Fits AladdinExcellent Antique Aladdin Gold Metal Oil Lamp W/ Model 23 BurnerVtg Aladdin Lincoln Drape Alacite Lamp W Original Chimney Burner & Elec ConvertAntique Aladdin Kerosene Oil Lamp Nu-type Model B Clear Glass ColonialVintage Aladdin Train Caboose Rr Car Lamp Bracket Light Lantern TrainVintage Aladdin 23 Burner Shelf Oil Kerosene Lamp Clear Glass Square PatternAladdin Lamp Parts: 2aladdin Lox-on Mantle Part # R150–2 Aladin 23 WicksAladdin #6 Oil Lamp W Blue Glass ShadeVintage Aladdin Nu Type Model B Kerosene Oil Table Lamp W / ChimneyAladdin Diamond Quilt White Moonstone Oil Lamp Base Aladdin Mantle Lamp Amber Glass Base Corinthian Pattern3 Vintage Aladdin Kone Kap Mantles For Models 3-11 LampsVintage Aladdin Model 8 Hanging Lamp Frame W/as-is Font~for Parts/restoration Aladdin Model 6 Burner Oil Lamp - Great For Parts Or Making A Complete Lamp. Coleman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #12Handwork Miao Silver & Cloisonne Carving Flower Rare Noble Magical Aladdin LampHandwork Miao Silver & Cloisonne Carving Flower Rare Noble Magical Aladdin LampColeman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #2Aladdin Kerosene Oil Lamp Burners And Parts Model B 12. 11 Gallery Chinese Decorative Cloisonne Handwork Carved Aladdin Lamp Statue Zj21Old Aladdin Kerosene Lamp Glass Chimney, Lox-on, PyrexVintage Nashville Aladdin Model B Brass Burner Kerosene Lamp PartColeman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #6Vintage Aladdin Model 5 Or 6 Hanging Bracket Frame Kerosene Lamp Part