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Clarke's Fairy Lamp Candles

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    Posted 8 years ago

    (56 items)

    Clarke made candles, not fairy lamps. He commissioned the fairy lamp production to glass and pottery makers to either make complete lamps or parts such as shades, fittings, and bases. He sold them as a means to entice customers to buy his candles. Much like ink is to printers today. He was a marketing genius to say the least.

    Clarke's family started making candles in 1844. In 1857, he patented his first "fairy lamp". It was used as a hand lamp and a heat source for his food warmers. In the mid-1880s he started commissioning decorative fairy lamps from glass and pottery manufacturers such as Webb, Stevens & Williams, Royal Worcester, Taylor & Tunnicliff, and several others. Needless to say they were very popular during the Victorian period. He sold his candle business to Prices Candle Co in 1910 but they continued to market Clarke's candles under his name for several years afterward. However, most were Paraffin, not tallow candles.

    Clarke's original candles were made from animal fat (tallow). He rendered his own fat at his candle plants in Childs Hill and Cricklewood, England. It was a nasty process, but an important industry before electricity and kerosene began to make candles obsolete, except for the decorative "Fairy Lamp" and elegant "Cricklite".

    Clarke registered his candle design in the US in 1884. He protected his patented "two wick" design fiercely and marked all his candles with his trademark with either a paper label or molding it right into the candle.

    So, the lowly candle is not what it may seem when it comes to fairy lamps. For the fairy lamp collector, original tallow candles are as difficult to find as fairy lamps.


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    1. Moonhill Moonhill, 6 years ago
      Jim...What type of candle should be used in Fairy Lamps today?
    2. IMASapp IMASapp, 6 years ago
      I would not burn any candle in an antique fairy lamp. The risk of cracking the shade is much too high. If you want to light them, and who wouldn't, I use GO-LED battery lights by Brinkman. However, it has been some time since I bought one and I suspect they are hard to find. Modern candles burn much hotter than the original tallow candles. The banner image on my Facebook Fairy Lamp page are all lit with the Brinkman battery lights.

      I prefer these because they are small and have a very bright "white" light. Most battery tea light are too yellow and the the colored glass "muddy".

      As for modern lamps, I suspect most tea lights will be moderation.
    3. Moonhill Moonhill, 6 years ago
      Thank you for your information, I will look for the GO-LED lights for my Fairy Lamps.
    4. Vintagefran Vintagefran, 4 years ago
      Fascinating post IMSapp. Thank you on the information on lighting and candle use.

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