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Antique Peter Derr Gallows/kettle Lamp Iron And Brass Signed And Dated For Sale
Peter Derr (Berks County, Pennsylvania, 1793-1868), brass, copper, and iron gimbaled
fat lamp, stamped P.D 1849, 10'' h.
I recently purchased the Peter Derr gallows/kettle lamp shown in the attached photo. I don't know much about these lamps and can't find any information on them. Which name, gallows or kettle, is correct? Why do they have a long shaft with a swivel font? Why did some have lids on the font? They don't appear practical, are they? Sometimes they are referred to as barn lamps. Is that correct? I have also heard they were predominately made and used in Eastern Pennsylvania and that some were also made and used in Europe. Is that correct? Thank you for your help.
Answer: The example shown in your photo is the typical style made by the famous Pennsylvania metal worker, Peter Derr. He coined the term "gallows" to describe his own models, although the term kettle (referring to the shape of the font), is the common term used by most authors, dealers and collectors to describe this form of lamp. The term "gallows" refers to the construction of the U shaped carriage that holds the font, and which sits on the long pole like shaft. The long shaft with a swivel (trunnion) font, and a fixed vertical wick holder, are basic design features of all kettle lamps. The swivel or trunnion construction was very practical, as it allowed the user to tip the font to provide more fuel (fat or grease) to the end of the wick. Some had lids to protect the fuel and prevent spillage. The length of the shaft appears to be more stylistic, than functional. Many examples are much shorter than the Derr design. They were first made and used in Central Europe in the 18th Century, and were brought to America by immigrants. The form was made by Derr and others, and commonly used in Pennsylvania throughout the 19th Century. They were made using a variety of metals, including iron, brass and copper, often decorated with incising on the fonts and/or knops on the shaft, and were also the subject of gifts or dowry. Given their use as household table lamps, and the sophistication of their construction, the use of the term "barn lamp" seems suspect as it is clearly a misnomer.
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Antique Peter Derr Gallows/kettle Lamp Iron And Brass Signed And Dated: $7,500