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    

Vintage Aladdin Oil Lamp Green BeehiveAladdin White Moonstone Vertique B-93 Kerosene / Oil Lamp - No ReserveVintage Aladdin Ivory Oil Lamp - Model B 11" Tall W/o Flute Pat PendingRare Vintage Aladdin Reverse Painted #165 Scenic Electric Table Lamp No Reserve!Old Aladdin Model B Jadite Jade Green Moonstone Kerosene Oil Mantel Lamp As IsAntique Aladdin Kerosene Hanging Lamp Model B Mantle Lantern LightingRare Vintage Jade Green Glass Finial Authentic For Aladdin Lamp W/brassAladdin Brass Student Oil Lamp1938 Aladdin Oil Lamp Dark Ruby Red Pedestal Glass Beehive W/brass B-83 BurnerVintage Aladdin Mantle Oil Kerosene Lamp,lantern,bronze, Glass Nice L@@kAntique Model A White Venetian Aladdin Lamp W/ Model B Burner Circa 1932-33Antique Aladdin Lamp Rose Flesh Moonstone Burner Cathedral Model B Nutype BurnerAntique Aladdin Kerosene Lamp, White Moonstone CathedralAladdin Original Whip-o-lite Oil/kerosene Lamp Shade Model 363 TanNice Vintage Aladdin Model 11 Short Nickel Plated Shelf Oil Lamp W/ BurnerAladdin No.6 Oil Lamp W/ No.6 Flame Spreader/ Generater Wall Mount Or SconcePrecious Moments-disney Showcase Collection-aladdin's Jasmine-magic LampGorham Sterling Silver Portsmouth Teapot Aladdin Lamp Shape 1922 W/ Monogram LbjNice Antique Model B Amber Washington Drape Aladdin Lamp W/ BurnerPre War 1940 Scallop Foot Lincoln Drape Aladdin Oil LampAladdin Model B-81 Green Beehive Kerosene Lamp With BurnerVintage Aladdin Oil Lamp Model B BurnerAladdin Mantle Lamp Co Nu-type Model B Alacite Glass Kerosene LampAladdin Oil Lamp Model #23 !! Great Condition1934 Aladdin Cathedral Pink Rose Flesh Oil LampAladdin Mantle Lamp Co Moonstone Oil Font Nu-type Model B 1933-1955Vintage Metal Oil Lamp W Aladdin Burner And Chimney In The Original BoxAladdin Model B-82l Light Amber (olive) Crystal Beehive Kerosene LampFlawless Antique Model B Colonial Aladdin Kerosene Lamp And Burner 1933Aladdin No. 23 Aluminum Kerosene Lamp W/original Chimney Antique Aladdin #23 Oil LampAladdin Washington Drape Clear Glass Tall Kerosene Oil Lamp Model 23 BurnerVintage Aladdin Caboose Railroad Kerosene Lamp 21c -complete W Hardware & ShadeKirks Folly Crystal Genie Bottle Aladdin's Lamp Necklace SilvertoneModel B Brass Aladdin Lamp Burner Aladdin Mantle Lamp Co. Nu-type Model B Nickel Plated Brass Burner Chicago Ill.Aladdin Green Simplicity Table Lamp Base=1948-1953Aladdin No 23 Oil Lamp10" Frosted Etched Glass Shade For Aladdin, B&h, Student Lamp, Etc, # 2Artichoke Glass Oil Hurricane Aladdin Lamp Shade 10" Fitter Opaque Milk WhiteVictorian Glass Magic Lantern Slide Picture Aladdin With Lamp Arabian Folk TaleAladdin Oil Kerosene Model B/c Nickel Lamp Gallery W/ Burner BoxAladdin Lamp Burner, Model 12Aladdin Kerosene Lamp Kone-kap Mantle Models 3 To 11 New Old Stock Mib3 Aladdin Lox-on Mantles For Models 12 B Or C Lamps, Orig Boxes, Near MintExcellent Vintage Aladdin Pink Lamp Shade Glass 9.75" Floral W/ Ruffle TopModel B Nickle Aladdin Lamp BurnerAntique Aladdin Model #6 Kerosene Oil Table Lamp Nickel PartsVintage Aladdin Simplicity Gold Luster B-27 Lamp With Hand Painted ShadeAladdin Washington Drape B 54 Green Crystal Oil Lamp Model B Mantle Table Lamp Nice Aladdin Bakelite Oil Lamp Font, Nu-type Model B Burner, Chimney, Shade RingAladdin Vintage Tilt Frame Hanger For Model 12 Or Model B Hanging LampAntique Vintage Aladdin Nickel Model A, B Or 12 Oil Kerosene Lamp Gallery Part10" Frosted Etched Glass Shade For Aladdin, B&h, Student Lamp, Etc, # 1Aladdin Oil Lamp Hanging 4 Post - PartsAladdin Kerosene Lamp Model B Nickel Burner Chicago. Burner # 1Antique Vintage- Alacite Glass Factory Original Finial For Aladdin Electric LampAntique Aladdin Model 5 Kerosene Oil Lamp Burner Vintage Aladdin Simplicity Gold Luster B-27 Lamp With Hand Painted ShadeAladdin Kerosene Lamp Model B Nickel Burner With Wick Chicago. Burner # 3