A Brief History of Aladdin Lamps
"Nearly a century ago, a very small boy on a Nebraska farm read and re-read the Arabian Nights story of Aladdin in a room of darkness but for the flickering yellow light of an open flame “coal oil lamp.” Several years later that boy, grown to manhood, found a lamp that erased the darkness with a soft white light and it was only natural that he named the lamp “Aladdin.” An appropriate name, indeed, for this revolutionary boon to rural America seemed nothing short of magical in the intensity of its light.
"For those who lit the lamp, trimmed its wick and cleaned its chimney, or just enjoyed its friendly glow, the Aladdin lamp recalls many memories of golden childhood. It made learning possible for many boys and girls; made it possible for them to acquire knowledge that helped them realize their dreams and aspirations.
"Later, Aladdin brought this white light to every kind of habitat in every corner of the globe. For many, it has been the only light of their entire life. Even when electricity comes, there are a loyal few who profess to use the electric light only “to find the match” to light their Aladdin."
V. S. Johnson, Jr.
Copyright © 2002 by J. W. Courter
J. W. Courter is professor emeritus, University of Illinois. His avocation is collecting
and studying oil lamps. He writes and publishes books about Aladdin lamps.