In the process of restoring the house and making it into a Historic House Museum, a lot of decisions had to be made. The most important decision was what period to retore the house to. I chose the 1860 Italianate period, as that was when Mr. Elgin, the original owner and builder, had lived there with his family and was the most prosperious.
As for the interior decorations, most of the wallpaper,curtain styles, and paint colors are of the 1860 appearance. But, I felt it ok, to include other periods of lighting and furniture pieces. After all Mr. Elgin had lived in the house since 1845 when he first started building it. I am sure he would have had things in 1845 that he continued to use in 1860. Mr. Elgin had a paddle wheel river boat, which he was the captian, thus he would have had access to ports,like St.Louis and New Orleans, and he could have aquired fine things.
I have a collection of lamps ranging in age from the early 1800's to early 1900's. The first lamps ,from 1845, were known as Argand lamps. The Argand lamp was invented in 1780 by Aime' Argand. This invention greatly improved on home lighting of that day, producing a light equal to 6 to 10 candles. These lamps burned vegetable oil as there fuel and they were gravity feed. It was the lamp of choice until 1850 when kerosene was invented. kerosene was much cheaper, making lamps more affordable to the masses.
With the invention of Kerosene came the Kerosene or oil lamp. In England these lamps were called pariffin lamps. It was a wick lamp, invented in the United States, by Robert Daisey in 1853. Wick lamps ,work in a simular way to a candle, as the lamp oil burns down so does the wick.The Abraham Gesner Kerosene Gaslight Company was the first to produce these lamps in 1850, which soon replaced the Argand lamps in most homes.
In the last part of the 1800's gas lighting was starting to take place. Gas Lighting is a production of artifical light from combustionable gas fuel. Before electricity became suffecently wide spread and economical to allow general public use, gas was the most popular means of lighting. These gas lights had to be lit by hand and made a nasty smoke and smell about your home, not to mention they were very dangerous. Table gas lamps were rarely found or used ,as there had to be a pipe, to bring the gas to the lamp from the source. A fexable tube was invented around 1890 and then the table lamps were more widely used. Lincoln had one in his office at the White House.
Electric soon came along in the latter part of the 1800's and early 1900's.It was not always available in rural areas at first, untill a generator was invented to produce electricity. If you had the money to buy one, you could have electric much faster than others. The electric lamps are not really right for my restoration. But, I have two examples, I could not resist using in My Old Historic House. I think you will understand why,when you see them. I like to tell people, when I give tours that they might have been added by Mr. Elgin's son,Plato, when he owned the home. The French figural lamp is from the early 1900's and the Peacock lamp is from 1920's. Of course none of these lamps belonged to any of the Elgin family. They were selected for the right age and style for the restoration, by none other than me, the present owner.
|My Old Historic House, The 1845 Elgin / Cottrell House Museum, 1845-1860, Clarksville,Mo.|
|Argand lamp on piano in Down River Parlor.|
|Large Argand lamp, on side table in Up River Parlor.|
|Pair of French Vermeil Argand lamps on Bronze bases in Up River Parlor.These are sterling silver with a gold wash on top. They are very early around 1820 and were most likey made in France, I call them the wedding cake lamps.|
|Pair of Argands on Pier Table in Entrance Hall.|
|Small Argand on table in Library.|
|Argand in Purple Guest Bed Room.|
|This section of lamps are the Kerosene or Oil Lamps. After 1850. This one on a table in the Up River Parlor is Ruby Cut Glass on a Brass Foot.The frosted cut glass shade and prisms again was used to add more light to a room.|
|Hand Painted Kerosene lamp in Master Bed Room, sometimes refered to as, Gone With The Wind Lamp.|
|Dainty Bed Side Keroseene Lamp in Master bed Room .These lamps were often left on all night, serving as a night light.|
|Unusual Color, Hand Painted Oil Lamp,Library.|
|Cranberry Glass Oil Banquet Lamp in Purple Bed Room.|
|Night Light in upstairs hall.|
|Oil Lamp on Table in My Room.|
|Early Oil Lamp, Kitchen, English Bristol and French Opaline Glass, Hand Painted with Hand Painted shade. from the Stark Nursery Family in Louisiana, Mo. Governor of Missouri.|
|This is my only example of a Gas Light. It is made from hand cut crystal, and the gas would have come from a fexable tube through the wall to the outside gas source.This lamp is from the late part of the 1800's.|
|French Bronze and Crystal Lamp with Sevres Figure Group. Early 1900's. Up River Parlor. This lamp is one of the two examples of electric lighting that I have in the house. Although wrong for the period, I cheated, as I love them so.|
|Detail of the crystal beading.|
|Peacock Lamp. Library, 1920's.|