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Early Sources of Artificial Lighting

The earliest means of artificial lighting were the open fire, firebrands, and torches. The first lamp was a dish of stone (later of clay, pottery, or metal) containing vegetable or animal oil and a wick. This was succeeded by the candle, first made of wax and later also of tallow, and by the lantern, which is of early origin. The Argand burner was an improved oil lamp with a burner and a chimney, and this type of lamp was widely used after the Canadian geologist Abraham Gesner popularized the use of kerosene.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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