Sep 9, 2010

Twentieth Century Manufacturing Company bicycle lamp

Last week, my wife surprised me with an amazing old bicycle lamp. She knows how much I enjoy cleverly engineered items of the past. I must say that this is the best gift she has ever given me. The lamp was made around the turn of the century, approximately 1898 by the Twentieth Century Manufacturing Company. A simple clamping system secures it to the head tube of your bicycle. Interesting to me, are the red and green windows on the left and right (respectively) sides of the lamp. These navigation lights are consistent with today's regulations for boats and airplanes. Red on the left and Green on the right. Rather than describe the fascinating details of this lamp, I've posted a few detail shots below.

I think the next step, is to fasten this to my fixed gear, throw on my woolly knickers and take a retro-ride around the city at night. (Side note: In the background is a great oil lamp, a gift from my father, which we use quite often.)

Above: Right side of lamp; note the small green window. Both of these side windows open so that they may be cleaned. I imagine soot builds up on the lenses over time.
Above: Front view. Original wavy glass with very small entrapped air bubbles.
Above: The front glass is hinged to allow cleaning and aid in replacing the wick.
Above: Top view. The "chimney" you could say, bears the name of the company "Twentieth Century" (ahead of it's time!). That's some clever marketing if you ask me.
Above: Bottom of the lamp, listing where this model was patented.
Above: Detail view of the oil tank. The leather 0-ring under the fill cap is still intact!
Above: Back of the lamp with the clamp system removed. "Made in US of America".


recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Very nice! It looks great sitting next to the bigger lamp. It is in great condition.

My Great-Grandmother on my mom's side collected kerosene lamps. I remember a big table in her house that she displayed them on. Lots of colored glass! She gave me a small one that both the base and globe are 7-up green glass. It has a round wick instead of the common flat type.

Anyway great pics, thanks for sharing.

Michael O'Hara said...

That's awesome; you ought to post some pictures I bet it looks great in the sunlight. My father enjoys finding them and cleaning them up, then giving them away, as is the case with mine. In the winter time I like to sit with a book in the living room and read in the glow of this old lamp. Gives a little warmth to boot.

Ron said...

I am stunned by this! I have one of these as well, left to me by my brother. Mine is not in nearly the great condition yours is though. BUT, we always thought this was railroad lamp used by the railroad men to signal when everything was clear to go. Not until I saw your blog did I have even an inkling that it was a bicycle lamp! WIOW! Really cool! Thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

I´m stunned too. I bougth one very similar thinking it was from a ship! I also love bikes, so it's great to know more about my lamp. Unfortunately it's not in such condition as yours. Yours looks great.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful lamp. I have one for a railroad switchman or as a caboose warning light. If anyone knows where to find it please blog. Safety First!