Captain’s Point Stories Box Set by Charlotte Kent
Staying true to my vintage theme, this year I will be highlighting a few of my favorite objects gathered during various “treasure hunting” trips to flea markets, antique shops and unique spots. This week, I want to tell you about the Neverout Insulated Kerosene Safety Lamp that I found at one of the coolest shops that I like to frequent, The Old Luckett’s Store www.luckettstore.com in Leesburg, Virginia.
The lamp had all the rustic appeal, with its time-worn and occasionally dented brass exterior, that I was looking for that particular day in 2012, while I perused the shop’s interesting and eclectic collection of vintage, re-purposed and new items. Doing a little on-line research, I discovered that the lamp is an old bicycle safety lantern, patented by the Rose Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia, Pa. The lantern has a large, round lens that opens at the front and smaller round red reflectors on the back and one side, with a mounting bracket for attachment to a bicycle.
I can only imagine the interesting history and stories behind this object. By the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, as the bicycle became a more prevalent form of transportation, the need arose for some sort of illumination for nighttime riding. My research revealed that bicycle lamps were manufactured by major American lamp makers as well as lantern makers, including the Rose Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia. This article on bicycle lamps and lanterns from the website of The Lampworks of Hurleyville, New York, I found particularly interesting: http://www.thelampworks.com/lw_bicycle.htm
That the lamp was manufactured in Philadelphia was particularly exciting to me because both of my husband’s parents grew up there in the first half of the 20th century. While transportation options had progressed at the time of their childhood and early adulthood, it sparked my desire to find out a little more from my mother-in-law about what it was like growing up in that city during the 1930’s and ‘40’s.
She told me that one of her fondest memories was viewing the Mummer’s Parade from her uncle’s courtroom chambers at City Hall. She remembers his annual catered affair, complete with a variety of delicious food and drink. Sipping hot chocolate and watching the participants march by adorned in lively costumes, many playing their stringed instruments, she peered out of the massive picture windows on the Second Floor each New Year’s Day.
Her favorite place to visit was the Franklin Institute. In fact, my husband remembers his parents taking the family there a few times in the 1960’s. On one occasion, there was an exhibit allowing patrons to walk though a man-made mock-up of the human heart, where they could observe and listen to all of its inner workings. My husband was so taken by it that, when the family went on to the next exhibit, he stayed behind and went through it many more times. His father and mother were horrified when they didn’t see him with their other children. Retracing their steps, they finally found him in the care of the heart exhibition’s hostess. The exhibit’s technology, with its vivid sights and sounds, had totally captivated his impressionable mind.
More recently, my husband and I have enjoyed many lovely trips to Philadelphia over the years, the last one including a horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic district. Touring the city by way of this long-standing traditional form of transportation is truly an experience worthy of the rich history embodied by its iconic landmarks.
Whatever the means of transportation, whether getting around the city by bicycle in the late 19th century or by car in the early 21st century, Philadelphia, the city and its vintage treasures have timeless stories to tell.
All the best,