In 1907 Victor Johnson formed the Western Lighting Company
(Possibly as a division of the Connecticut Trading Company)to
market the German made Practicus side draft burner on an
American made lamp body.
This burner took a frameless mantle that was hung over the
The lamp bodies or fonts were manufactured by the Plume & Atwood
By 1908, Victor incorporated his company as the Mantle Lamp
Company of America. The initial product was a range of Plume
& Atwood (P&A) lamp fonts and the Practicus
Victor acquired the rights to sell a centre drought burner
developed at P&A and the Aladdin model 1 lamp was born
and offered for sale in 1909. Over the next three years
the burner evolved quickly. There are at least three
different versions of the model 2 burner which was offered
for sale during a single year.
At that time, P&A owned all the lamp patents and tooling
to create the mantle lamps sold by several companies including
Mantle Lamp Company. Other lamp marketing companies such
as KIM Lamp, Sunlight and CONTRACO were selling the same
with their names on them. Side drought versions of these
mantle lamps were sold under the names Sunbeam, Lumineer
and Home Supply (Beacon).
The success of the Mantle Lamp Company was based primarily
upon marketing and the use of American made parts. There
were over one hundred companies selling mantle lamps within
the US when the company was started, most of whom used German
made burners on American manufactured fonts. World War I stopped shipments of the German made burners, wicks, mantles and chimneys. By the end of World War I there
were just a handful of companies selling mantle lamps left, all of which used American
made parts, and Aladdin had complete market dominance.
Johnson appears to have been a marketing genius who kept
his company at the fore front of the latest marketing technologies.
Yes, the Kone Kap patent gave the mantle lamp Company a
technological leadership, but Aladdin sold the mantle to
it's competition for use on their lamps. It was advanced
marketing techniques that really built the company over the
competition. Winning the gold medal at the 1915 Panama Pacific
International Exposition in San Francisco firmly established
the Mantle Lamp Company as the dominant leader in the field.
The Mantle Lamp Company was able to start off the model 1
with three table lamp versions, two hanging lamp versions,
a wall mounted lamp and an oil pot lamp because the tooling
was already there and the parts were already being manufactured
for several other lamp marketing companies.
The Aladdin model 1 and 2 lamps were basically generic P&A
centre drought mantle lamps. Early shades were generic off
the shelf glass shades for that era and the shade holders
were the standard P&A type. Within a couple years Aladdin
was contracting independent glass companies produce glass
shades and chimneys.
Many early Aladdin Lamp models underwent substantial changes
during the Aladdin model selling year. I believe this
to be because P&A had their own schedule and The Mantle
Lamp company was initially at the mercy of P&A's schedule
as were the other companies that sold P&A manufactured
The Mantle Lamp Company received it's first patent on 4 April
1911 that covered a new mantle, gallery and generator design.
These were rushed into production as quickly as possible and
got phased into the model 2 lamp production (model 2-3 transition
lamp). Also during that year P&A improved the wick
raiser design and changed their method of producing threads
in the table font. The model 2 production year was a moving
target with at least 4 possibly 5 different table lamp configurations
produced during a single lamp selling season.
The model 3 lamp used the new mantle, gallery and generator.
All the other parts, including the burner base were generic
Plume & Atwood, made under P&A patents.
The model 4 lamp saw a return to using the less expensive
to manufacture current generic P&A generator while retaining
the Kone Kap mantle and gallery. The latest P&A burner
improvements were incorporated as well.
Late during the 12 months of model 5 production (1913-14)
Plume & Atwood completely redesigned their burner. The
new burner was phased into sales near the end of the model
year as old stock was depleted. The late model 5 burner
and the early
model 6 burners are identical except for the number on the
1917 brought the model 7 lamp which was the first model
that was uniquely Aladdin. The new wider base burner was
covered under new Aladdin patents as well as the new wick
raiser, generator, under burner shade holder, and more.
In 1918, two years after Aladdin ceased US sales of the
model 6 lamp, they were granted a patent on the model 6
that time the model 6 burner in various forms was produced
by P&A and sold to other lamp marketing companies. In
that time frame the Solar lamp used a model
burner with the Solar name attached. I suspect this patent
spelled the end of P&A manufactured generic mantle
Samuel Johnson was seeing home and business electrification
progressing in the United states and decided to branch out
to keep the company strong. Besides opening offices in other
countries to market lamps, he formed Aladdin Industries in
1919 to make products based upon vacuum technology. This was
followed with ventures into other household products. Lamps
were mostly a seasonal product and The mantle Lamp Company
needed products that would sell well year around keep the
income flow more steady.
Aladdin purchased a glass company in 1926 to gain complete
control over shade and chimney manufacture. This lead to the
introduction of glass lamps in 1932.
Aladdin was to keep its partnership with Plume & Atwood
for as long as metal lamps and burners were manufactured within
the United States. All American made metal lamps and burners
up through the Nashville model C were produced by P&A
There are really three things that are important to the understanding
of Aladdin lamps and their success: The Kone Kap mantle, marketing
and manufacturing economics.
The KoneKap Mantle
The models 1 and 2 lamps used a cap mantle that sat on a
cone shaped opening on the gallery. The mantle's spatial
relationship to the wick depended upon how the user assembled
the mantle on the gallery. The result of a cap mantle that
was not seated perfectly is a finicky lamp that tended to
burst into a carbon depositing flame before the whole mantle
Aladdin patented the new Kone Kap Mantle in 1911. The new
mantle effectively moved the cone from the gallery to the
mantle and created a controlled, more exact, spacing by virtue
of the mantle locking into the new gallery. Their patent covered
the new mantle, gallery and generator (flame spreader). This
did two things for Aladdin. It provided Aladdin with complete
control over manufacturing and sales of the Kone Kap mantle.
And the Kone Kap mantle's precision location on the gallery
created a much easier to operate less fussy lamp than any
competitor had. The patents that went into the model 3 Aladdin
created a lamp superior to the competition and eventually
spelled doom for other brands of mantle lamps.
World War I
The mantle lamp industry was created in Germany where the
incandescent mantle was invented. Designing a mantle lamp
burner requires a fair amount of engineering and the technology
was developed by a few companies in Germany who saw financial
opportunities in expanding their market abroad. A number
of partnerships were formed in America where a new marketing
company would purchase imported burners, place them on American
made lamp fonts and sell the resulting mantle lamps. Aladdin
started out as such a company and luckily they partnered
with Plume & Atwood who had the engineering capability
to design their own incandescent lamp burners. This
quickly eliminated Aladdin's dependence upon burners imported
from Germany. During
WWI German lamp parts became unavailable in America. Americans
suddenly disliked things made in Germany and all the small
American lamp companies using German components went out
of business. Prior to WWI all Aladdin chimneys were imported from Germany. Chimney production shifted to the US. There was a limited return of German manufactured
mantle lamps between World War I and World War II such as
the lamps manufactured by Ehrich and Graetz sold by Montgomery
Ward during the 1930's.
Victor Johnson realized the importance of marketing and
built a strong network of sales people to keep the Aladdin
name out in front of customers, keep their retail outlets
excited and up to date with the latest marketing collateral
Aladdin became a marketing leader both in print and radio
advertisements. They were always trying new promotions and
ways to sell product.
Aladdin was one of the first companies to make use of door
to door salesmen. The Salesmen were door to door independent
retailers. They purchased a salesman kit and stock
at a wholesale discount.
An Aladdin model 1 salesman kit. This
one has an interesting mixture of contents, A model 1 one
quart fancy foot lamp, correct shade, unmounted replacement
wicks, a single KoneKap mantle in model 4 packaging and three
Sears Bright As Day mantles
In Samuel Johnson's time, the company tried to have new
product to offer customers each year. They felt this was
crucial to maintaining customer interest and even to get
existing customers to upgrade, much in the same way as the
automotive industry. When they did not have functional improvements,
Aladdin incremented the model name by one and slid in appearance
changes when economical. The models 4 and early 5 are basically
marketing upgrades of the model 3 lamp as the 10 and 11
model lamps are marketing upgrades of the model 9 lamp.
The glass lamps allowed Aladdin to continually keep a new
mix of products in front of the customer to provide a constant
level of excitement. All this without having to increment
the burner tooling.
Making tooling to form metal is expensive and takes time.
Unless you are talking about changing some minor stamp dye
in a tool you need to sell a lot of lamps to pay for tooling
changes. It was a lot cheaper to have your company name stamped
onto existing generic parts than to pay for the tooling to
make lamps. The fact that P&A was selling the same parts
to a number of companies just kept the prices more affordable
to struggling new marketing and sales companies and allowed
P&A to make a good profit.
When Aladdin first started working with Plume & Atwood,
they used existing tooling to have their lamps manufactured.
As time progressed Aladdin's ability to pay for their own
tooling increased and the lamps became more uniquely Aladdin.
But it was not until 1917 when the model 7 went into production
that Aladdin lamps became uniquely Aladdin. It is my guess
that the wild success of the model 6 lamp allowed Aladdin
to be able to afford their own unique tooling using features
that Aladdin quickly patented.
To keep costs down, tooling changes were minimal and the
existing tooling was used through as many models as possible.
If you compare individual stampings of adjacent models you
can get an idea of how many parts were carried over from
model to model.
With two exceptions Aladdin didn't just didn't go to P&A
and say make me a new design with new tooling for the next
sales season. All new tooling is what makes the model 7 such
a revolutionary lamp. It required a total change from existing
P&A lamp tooling. The other time was when P&A tooled
up the model C after all the model B and earlier tooling was
destroyed in a flood.
Model 11 top with model 12 base, bottom and burner. Aladdin used up previous model parts transitioning to a new model
Unsold inventory is money already spent. It is not economical
to throw away parts that are already made if they can possibly
be made to fit in the next model. For example the
centre draft tube in my model 2 table lamp has generator
seats for both model 1 and model 2 lamps. It appears to be
a reworked model one inner wick tube or perhaps a reworked
complete table font. The gallery on my model 2 lamp is a
model 1 gallery that was reworked to eliminate a top row
of holes. Model 3 gallery's are often found on early model
4 lamps. The first model 6 font lamps had the old style bottom
plates. Nickel plated model 7-8 gallery's have been found
on early model 9 lamps. An awful lot of lamps are found with
model 12 burners and model 11 lamp bodies (A 11-12 transition
lamp?). There are several more examples of factory hybrid
lamps that used up existing stocks. That's why I never argue
with an individual lamp that has a part or two from the previous
model. And I have seen way too many lamps with 12 burners
on 11 lamp bodies not to believe the factory used up extra
lamp bodies with an undocumented 11-12 transition lamp.
Many of these lamps can be explained by Aladdin's trade
in campaign allowing discounts for trading in earlier burners
for model 12 burners. But with the depression going
strong I do not think this programme accounts for all the
lamps that have model 12 burners on model 11 lamp bases.
I keep wondering how many early transition lamps have been
modified by collectors who removed the "wrong" parts
and replaced them with the correct parts. I would imagine
that very few model 11-12 transition lamps survive a collector
in factory original condition.
When you look at the changes from model to model it helps
to keep in mind the economics of creating expensive tooling
and the need to get as much use out of it as possible. When
you look at individual lamps, remember the economics of existing
inventory at model change time. These two taken together can
give you a lot of insight to what you observe.
The Mantle Lamp Company by any other name...
In 1914 The Mantle Lamp Company created a wholly owned subsidiary
named Aladdin industries to develop and sell thermos bottles
and other temperature conserving items. In 1949 the two companies
merged taking the subsidiary company name, Aladdin Industries.
Also in 1949 the Aladdin lamp line was revamped to minimize manufacturing costs with less expensive to manufacture lamp founts and accessories such as wall mounts and bug screens replacing more ornate (more expensive to manufacture) parts. Since post WWII housing construction had lower ceilings, ceiling extensions were discontinued. Less
expensive painted finishes were introduced to replace the more expensive plating finishes.
Interestingly, most American Aladdin Lamp collectors tend not to collect lamps or lamp accessories newer than around 1949. There seems to be little American collector interest in the Last of the model B lamps and the newer lamps that came afterwards.
Glass, Glass Glass!
In 1926 The Mantle Lamp Company purchased the Lippincott
Glass Company to produce glass lamps and shades. In 1930
the first vase lamps were introduced using model 12 oil
pots in Aladdin manufactured glass bottomless vases. These
same glass vases were also used to make Aladdin electric
lamps as well.
In 1932 the first Aladdin glass lamp was introduced with
the new model A side draft burner. Glass molds are much cheaper
to make than metal form tooling and Aladdin started producing
many styles each in several colours so that there was always
something new to entice the customer. The customer now could
choose among several styles and colours to match their room
The Old switcheroo
It appears that the Aladdin model A burner was originally intended to be sold in the United States and the model B was intended to be sold in the UK. The model A burner was introduced in the US market in 1932. The model B burner was introduced into the UK market a couple months earlier. It appears that US customers had problems with the difficulty of installing a new wick on the model A burners. The following year the tooling for both burners moved to the other country and the American model B burner went into production as did the UK model 14 "Super Aladdin". There were slight changes made to the tooling of both burners.
UK model B burner
US model B burner
US model A burner
UK model 14 "Super Aladdin" burner
We must all make sacrifices ...
During world war II a number of materials needed for the
war effort became restricted. Brass was strictly rationed
during the war years as it was needed for shell casings and
many other uses. First to feel the restrictions was the Aladdin
The Model 14 burner stayed in full production at Greenford
during WW II. Aladdin UK was granted a license by the Board
of Trade to buy rolled brass strip from certain ordnance factories
because lighting was considered essential.
In 1942 uranium became restricted and Aladdin had to change
their formula for alacite. Brass had also become a restricted
product in the United States early in the war. Aladdin was
allowed to continue using brass for burners because much of
America was still unelectrified and the burners were designed
around the thermal characteristics of brass.
However production of brass metal lamps, wick raisers and
wick cleaners ceased until the war ended in 1945. Between
1943 and 1945 the only metal lamps manufactured by Aladdin
North America were steel font lamps for the caboose lamp market.
These font lamps were galvanized inside and out then coated
black. Wick cleaners and wick raisers made during these years
were also made from steel and then plated for resistance to
rust. At the end of the war, the steel font lamp was discontinued
and brass lamps went back into production.
Aladdin Australia made lamp fonts out of steel. Since
the outer finish of the WWII lamps was painted, these fonts
were not galvanized. Many of the fonts rusted from the
inside over time.
Aladdin took their burner technology to the war effort with
a number of products ranging from field cook stoves and refrigerators
for field hospitals to shipboard coffee urns. In England Aladdin
burners were used in aircraft parked outside as dehumidifiers
to keep moisture out of equipment. The thermos products part
of the company branched out and grew as well.
All good things ...
By 1952 sales of kerosene lamps had decreased greatly with
the post war electrification of rural America. The glass
plant was closed and almost all the lamp molds were destroyed.
The mold for the plain stem Washington drape (B-53) and
the glass font lamp were retained and an outside company
produced lamps from these molds until model B was discontinued.
Aladdin headquarters was moved from Chicago to Nashville
in 1949. At this time the wick adjuster knob tooling was changed
so that Chicago was replaced by Nashville on the model 12
and B burners (12 burners were still in production for the
parts replacement market and possibly export).
A flood in late winter 1954 washed away or ruined Aladdin's
tooling at Plume & Atwood abruptly ending model B production
and the production of new parts for older lamps. Until
then model 12 burners, model 6 and 12 flame spreaders and
model 6 wick carriers were still in production to help existing
customers keep their model 3 through 12 lamps working properly
and for some overseas markets.
By this time Aladdin's lamp business generated only a very
small percentage of the company profit and Aladdin
did not want to put any real money into new high quality
tooling that might not get a return from lamp sales. The
remaining stock of model B burners were allocated to B-53
lamp production which kept the clear plain stem Washington
Drape on the price list to September 1955. This lamp with
a Nashville burner was the very last of the Aladdin model
B lamps, and the last Aladdin glass lamp for a few decades.
In early 1955 when the flood damage was cleaned up, a model
C burner was tooled up by Plume & Atwood (small round
wick adjuster labeled Nashville) and lamps were made using
inexpensive aluminum materials. The aluminum lamps looked
cheap and I suspect sales reflected the looks.
England had its own burner tooling and was not affected
by the flood, but economic pressures led them to revise
the model 14 burner to make it less expensive to manufacture. Improvements
were added at the same time and the model 21 was born in
The Australians never made their own burners. They
were importing UK model 14 burners and offering them as model
16A burners. They were also importing American model
B lamps an offering them as model 16B. After 1954 Aladdin
Australia sold lamps with UK made model 21 burners.
In 1963 Aladdin UK model 21C burners were imported to the
US to provide a higher quality alternative to the model C
The model 23 burner (reworked model 21C burner ) was introduced
in 1969. The first model 23 burners were English made. Eventually
model 23 burner production was moved to Hong Kong (The English
tooling stayed in England and new tooling was made in Hong
Kong). There were a number of fit and quality issues with
the Hong Kong burners that slowly got worked out over time
and through several versions of the burner.
Inexpensive model C lamps were made in Brazil in 1974-75
primarily for the third world export market and as a low cost
alternative to the expensive model 23 lamp in the US market.
However the steel Brazilian burners did not work well at all.
Sometime during 1975 new Brazilian burners were shipped to
Aladdin UK for modification to correct burning problems. The
root problem is that the Aladdin burner technology evolved
using brass thermal characteristics and the Brazilian burners
were mild steel. It was concluded that the design could not
work properly with the different thermal characteristics of
steel and the Brazilian model C burner was discontinued.
By the late 1980's the company producing Lox-on chimneys
for Aladdin was having problems producing the chimney foot
and chimneys were being sold that required reworking of the
gallery tabs and sometimes even then did not stand straight
on the lamp.
Through much of the 1970s, '80s and going into the '90s
Aladdin had been outsourcing to low cost manufacturers who
just were not making parts that fit or worked well. Expensive
lamps were being offered for sale that often did not fit or
work quite right. It seemed that Aladdin Industries just did
not want to discontinue its root business nor did it want
to spend the money and effort to revitalize it. The Aladdin
lamp division seemed to be sliding slowly towards oblivion
as the lamps slowly faded from public memory. By 1998, Aladdin's
lamp division profits were around 1% of the Aladdin Industries
On 5 April 1999 a group of Aladdin enthusiasts headed by
J. W. Courter and Tom Teeter purchased the Aladdin mantle
lamp division from Aladdin Industries. Tom Teeter owned a
company named The American Lamp Supply Company that offered
reproduction and new classic lamps that used the model 23
burner. The merging of the the two companies provided a large
increase in Aladdin lamp models.
The new company has been working hard to upgrade the quality
of that lamp parts and to provide the product line with a
much needed face lift that reflects the Aladdin lamp roots.
At this point it seems that the new company is largely supported
by sales of limited edition boutique lamps to collectors.
I sincerely hope that they can break that barrier and successfully
expand their market to non Aladdin collectors.
The unsung Savior of Aladdin
I believe that Aladdin today owes its very continued existence
to Aladdin Industries Ltd, UK. The British empire imposed
strict import tariffs early during the great depression to
protect British industry and provide workers with jobs. The
Greenford manufacturing plant was built to make Aladdin kerosene
heaters, lamps and other products for sale within their empire.
The Greenford plant opened in 1932. Before then all Aladdin
lamps sold into the empire were of American manufacture, even
if the wick adjuster knob said London.
As an aside, Chimneys made for Aladdin UK were manufactured by the glass-makers Chance Bros in England, a very large concern that was in business from 1824-1981 and employing over 3,000 people at its height. Records indicate that in 1934, Chance was supplying Aladdin UK with 12,000 chimneys per week. The 'Hysil' trade name often associated with these chimneys derives from Chance - a borosilicate (heat-resisting) glass mixture. The trade name was bought up by J A Joblings (the UK licensee of Pyrex) in about 1960.
I do not know for sure who manufactured glass shades for Aladdin UK, but it was highly likely that this was done by Chance Bros. as well. They had a large globe department for manufacturing opal-flashed glass. So they had the means to make the shades for Aladdin UK. (This data is from research done on the Chance Bros. by David Encill).
Americans did not accept the difficulties involved with
inserting a wick into the model A burner. With the wick
adjustment gear inside the wick movement area the wick tended
to hang up during insertion. The model A burner tooling was shipped to the
Greenford plant in the UK and the model B tooling went to the Connecticut Plume and Atwood manufacturing plant.
The model A tooling became the UK model 14 (Super Aladdin)
that was used through 1953. This burner was also sold into
Australia as the model 16A.
In 1954 this tooling was modified to incorporate improvements
and reduce manufacturing costs. This reworked burner
become the model 21, then later the model 21C.
The superior burning and quality English model 21C lamps
replaced the P&A made model C lamp in 1963.
The English tooling was revised yet again and became the
model 23 in 1969.
Had it not been for Aladdin Industries UK, Aladdin lamps
could have very likely gone out of production sometime between
the mid nineteen sixties and seventies.
Every Aladdin burner made today is a direct descendant from
the model A tooling sent to the UK and the common model 23
brass table lamp font is a direct descendant from the UK model
12 table lamp.
If it was not for the transfer of the model A tooling to
Greenford UK, the flood in late 1954 that swept through the
P&A factory would have spelled the eventual doom of Aladdin
1908 Mantle Lamp Co. Founded. Sold Practicus lamps
1909 Model 1
1910 first two Canadian offices opened
1911 First patent covers new mantle, gallery &
generator. Cap mantle replaced by KoneKap mantle
1913 First wick cleaners, with model 4
1915 Model 6 First floor lamp
1915 Model 6 floor lamps converted to electricity
became Aladdin's first electric lamp.
1915 Model 6 won gold metal at World's Fair
1917 US entered WWI and parts for competitors
using German made burners, mantles & chimneys became unavailable
putting them out of business. Aladdin chimney production moved from Germany to US.
1917 Model 7 was first lamp using all new tooling
designed just for Aladdin
1917 First bug screens
1917-18 saw a slew of patents making the Aladdin lamp
unique from the competition
1918 Aladdin granted patent for #6 burner possibly
spelling end of production for other companies using P&A
designed mantle lamps.
1919 Aladdin Industries Ltd. UK
1919 Aladdin Industries founded to make vacuum bottle
1921 Model 10 first reinforced wicks & end to
1924 Aladdin Industries Ltd Australia
1926 Lippincott Glass Company purchased
1928 First Aladdin manufactured glass shades
1928 First paper shades
1928 Name generator changed to flame spreader
1928 Model 12 Lox-on mantle and chimney introduced
1930 Production began on electric lamps
1930-1935 Model 12 vase lamps
1932 First glass lamps
1932 Australian manufacture of lamp bodies started.
Never manufactured burners
1933 First English made lamps
1935-1954 Glass font lamps
1937 First caboose lamps
1938 First alacite lamps
1938 Aladdin glass shades discontinued thru 1951
1942 Alacite formula changed
1943 Name bug screen changed to insect screen
1943 -1945 No brass lamps manufactured
1944 - 1952 bakelite lamps were manufactured
1949 Mantle Lamp Co. merged with Aladdin Industries
1949 Main offices moved from Chicago to Nashville,
Model 12 & Model B Nashville burners thru 1954
1949 Much of the lamp line revised.
Paint replaced plating for most metal lamp applications.
1951 Outsourced glass shades available
1952 Glass plant closed All glass molds destroyed
with exception of plain stem Washington drape and font.
1952 Last floor lamp
1954 Flood destroyed all metal lamp and burner
tooling. Model B discontinued. Remaining burner stock on
hand went to B-53
1955 Last Aladdin glass lamp, B-53, removed from price
1974 Glass lamp production resumed with undated model
23 Lincoln Drape
1978 Aladdin manufactured a small number of model 23 student lamps for its 75th anniversary. They were priced high and not readily available to the average consumer. Eventually the last stock was sold cheaply through an inventory liquidation house. These have become valued by collectors.
1984 Aladdin Canada closed
1994 Fenton started manufacturing a line of glass
lamps for Aladdin
1999 Kerosene lamp division sold. New owners put a lot of effort into manufacturing quality and expanding the product line.
2008 Aladdin reintroduced the parlor lamp fount design was a model 23 lamp as a 100th anniversary commemoration lamp.
Blue ribbon won by Aladdin for the model 6 lamp in 1915