Period Reproductions and Restorations

Solar Harp Lamps - circa 1845

The motivation for reproducing this lamp came from the National Park Service. They needed two such lamps as part of the restoration of the sutler’s store at Fort Laramie in Wyoming. The store interprets its role during the 1850’s and early 1860’s when it served the officers and enlisted men at the post as well as trappers, traders, Indians, and emigrant families moving west.

These harp lamps were sold either with or without a shade. Those without shades were generally used in stores, factories, and areas in a home other than the general living quarters. Lamps with shades were used in halls, studies, and parlors – the 1856 Starr, Fellows & Company illustrated catalog displays a number of Oil Hanging Lamps for use with oil, fluid, or camphene along with this notation: “During the last few years, a great want has arisen for something adapted to lighting the Halls of the numberless splendid suburban Mansions, which have sprung up in the vicinity of our great cities; all the known styles being ill adapted to compare with the costly edifices thus brought into being by our retiring millionaires. The above are samples of some we have got up during the last year for that purpose.”

Many of these lamps were quite ornate. Some were supplied with smoke bells; it is not readily apparent what deciding factor(s) influenced the decision to include a smoke bell with a lamp. Drawings in the 1856 Starr, Fellows & Co. catalog and the 1860 Dietz catalog show lamps with them and as well as lamps without them. Some solar lamps have an attachment for a smoke bell but with no bell attached. Several solar harp lamps, intended for use in ship cabins, have a large metal bell that might have been intended to protect low ceilings more from heat than smoke. Very ornate lamps tended to be pictured with smoke bells and almost all kerosene lamps were pictured with them as well.

The reproduction solar lamps being offered here, from a design perspective, are decidedly simple and reserved in style when compared with many of their ornate counterparts. It is very likely that smoke bells would not have been provide on these lamps in the period and so they are not being offered with smoke bells now. The lamps measure 26-3/4” in height and are 14-1/2“wide. The wiring for electrified lamps is run through the tubing that makes up the harp; the wire exits at the top of the hanger. When used with a hollow support rod and or hollow ceiling hook the wires are nearly invisible. The profile of the harp has been copied from the “No. 5 Harp, brass wire, dipped and lacquered” as pictured in the Starr, Fellows & Co. 1856 illustrated catalog (19th Century Elegant Lighting by Gerald T. Gowitt, page 107). The patinated and lacquered finish on these lamps is a beautiful deep, rich brown that was typical on many period fixtures. Other finishes are available. These lamps are available either electrified or oil-burning; electrified versions are available with an internal on/off dimmer switch which is operated by turning the breather cup located at the very bottom of the font.

S-102-1-PAR Solar Harp Lamp – electrified, chimney only


S-102-2-PAR Solar Harp Lamp – electrified, shade and chimney


S-102-3 Solar Harp Lamp – additional charge for oil-burning version

$ 200.00

Prices are subject to change without notice. Web site errors, whether photographic or typographic, are subject to correction when ordering.


JP - Tinsmith
Joel Paradis
7249 West Main Street
Westmoreland, New York 13490
Telephone: (315) 853-1444
Facsimile: (315) 853-1221

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