Period Reproductions and Restorations

“Artificial Illumination”
Webster’s An Encyclopedia of Domestic Economy – 1845

Book IV of An Encyclopedia of Domestic Economy is titled "Artificial Illumination". It runs from page 140 through page 206 and contains fascinating information regarding the chemistry and physics of illumination, different fuels, and the lamps of the period. Published in 1845, the book covers not only the earliest lamps but also Argand, sinumbra, solar, mechanical, and gas fixtures as well. This is an authoritative first-hand account written in the period - not a summation of what present day researchers might manage to piece together.

The material in the book is presented in a manner so that it is easily understood and the illustrations help the reader comprehend the more complex issues. While the material is somewhat technical in nature, when considered in its entirety, the reader can gain an understanding about why candles remained in general use for as long as they did, about the part that new scientific discoveries played in the development and refinement of fuels and lamp design, how the various fuels and the availability of the fuels affected lamp design, use, and the popularity of particular lamps, and how new technology in lamp design changed and affected lifestyles the world over.

The encyclopedia is a compilation of information that covers a broad range of subjects. The title page reads, in part: "Comprising such subjects as are most immediately connected with housekeeping; as, the construction of domestic edifices, with the modes of warming, ventilating, and lighting them; a general account of the animal and vegetable substances used as food, and the methods of preserving and preparing them by cooking; making bread; materials employed in dress and the toilet; business of the laundry; preservation of health; domestic medicines, &e., &e." An Encyclopedia of Domestic Economy was written by Thomas Webster and assisted by Mrs. Parkes, author of "Domestic Duties."; included were "Notes and Improvements" by D. Meredith Reese, A.M., M.D.

The encyclopedia was printed as one complete volume consisting of over 1,200 pages and nearly one thousand engravings. It was later made available in twelve sections - "With the view to increase the circulation of this popular work, and extend its usefulness, it has been determined to issue it in numbers, which will appear periodically at brief intervals until the whole shall be published. The first number, as regards execution, will be a specimen of the remainder, and twelve numbers, at twenty-five cents each, will complete the work."

I was fortunate enough to stumble across four of the twelve sections, one of which contains Book IV that covers artificial illumination. The condition of the section ranges from good to fair. There is staining on some pages which, except in only a few cases, does not detract from the readability of the text or illustrations. There are very small sections on a handful of pages that do require closer scrutiny but even these are legible. The original pages have been scanned at a high resolution and digitally enhanced using Photoshop software. Printing is done on an HP inkjet printer. Bright white 24 pound paper is used and the complete works has been spiral bound with a clear protective front piece and a heavy black back board which stiffens the booklet. An enlargement of the cover page and a table of contents are included. The pages are reproduced the same size as the originals - approximately 5 ¾" by 9". The various chapter and section headings provide a synopsis of the books contents. They are listed at the bottom of the page.

WEDE Artificial Illumination - from An Encyclopedia of Domestic Economy, 1845



Sample Pages & Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter I - On Light and Flame
   Section I: Historical Remarks
   Section II: Nature and Laws of Light
   Section III: On The Nature of Flame, As Employed For Artificial Light

Chapter II - Of The Various Substances Employed In The Production Of Artificial Light
   Section I: General Remarks
   Section II: Wax
   Section III: Spermaceti
   Section IV: Tallow
   Section V: Oil, Lard Oil, Vegetable Oil
   Section VI: Bituminous Substances Used For Light

Chapter III - Candles
   Section I: Wax Candles
   Section II: Spermaceti Candles
   Section III: Tallow Candles - Dipped And Molded
   Section IV: Composition Candles
   Section V: Cocoanut Candles
   Section VI: Farmer's Candles
   Section VII: Other Varieties Of Candles
   Section VIII: Management Of Candles, And Comparison Between Those of Wax And Tallow
   Section IX: Relative Quantities Of Light From Various Candles And Lamps
   Section X: Candlesticks

Chapter IV - Lamps
   Section I: The Simplest Kinds Of Lamps
   Section II: Argand's Lamp
   Section III: Annular [Sinumbra] French Lamp
   Section IV: Parker's Sinumbra Lamp
   Section V: Quarrell's Sinumbra Lamp
   Section VI: Isis Lamp
   Section VII: Quarrell's Albion Lamp
   Section VIII: Parker's Hot Oil Lamp
   Section IX: The Solar Lamp
   Section X: Keir's Fountain Lamp
   Section XI: Parkers Fountain Lamp
   Section XII: Carcel Lamp
   Section XII*: Young's Vesta Lamp
   Section XIII: Lamps For Reading
   Section XIV: Lamps To Run Solid Oils
   Section V: Wax Lamps
   Section VI: Lamp Without Flame
   Section VII: Carriage Lamps
   Section VIII: Hall Lamps
   Section XIX: Candelabra
   Section XX: Very Intense Lights
   Section XXI: Management of Lamps
   Section XXII: Expeditious Methods Of Procuring Light

Chapter V - Illumination By Means Of Gas

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