History of Alladin & Alladin Lamps

from the Depression Glass Journal
Volume 12 No. 2 - September 1985

Victor Samuel Johnson formed the Mantle Lamp Company of America, in 1908, in Chicago, Illinois. He was born in Minden, Nebraska, in 1882, and died in 1943.

Name Change
The Mantle Lamp Company of America became Aladdin Industries, Inc. in 1949.

Alladin Today
Aladdin Industries, Inc., is today, a worldwide company headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Aladdin is a major manufacturer of thermosware products, the world leader, in institutional meal distribution systems, major manufacturer of electronic components and heating and lighting products.

ALH, Inc., an Aladdin subsidiary, carries on the tradition of the original company and continues to market modern versions of the Aladdin kerosene mantle lamp.

Todays highly decorative lamp models from ALH, are popular in many homes both as unique conversation pieces as well as functioning, practical lamps. These modem versions are available with a conversion kit that allows both kerosene and electrical operation, and can convert easily from one mode of operation to another in the event of an electrical power failure.

Other, more utilitarian-designed, kerosene-only lamps are used for recreational and emergency lighting throughout the US, and for essential conventional lighting in many underdeveloped countries. In addition to the lamps, ALH, Inc., markets Aladdin kerosene space heaters and Jet Gaz miniature stoves, lanterns and heaters for backpackers, campers and sportsmen. The company is also the major manufacturer of outdoor gaslight mantles.

Interesting Historical Facts about the Alladin Kerosene Mantle Lamp

Indicative of the lighting innovation that the Aladdin kerosene mantle lamp represented, the Aladdin lamp Model 6 earned a gold medal and blue ribbon in competition at the Panama Pacific International Exposition In San Francisco in 1915.

Advertising Contest
In its advertising the Mantle Lamp Company claimed the Aladdin lamp was the best kerosene lamp in the world. In 1915, an offer of $1,000 was made for any oil-burning lamp that could equal the Aladdin. The offer was never collected.

Notable Historic Applications
The Aladdin railroad caboose lamp filled a need for dependable light in railroad cabooses. The Aladdin Caboose lamp was first introduced in 1937 and is still used in many railroad yards.

The Turkey Point Light House in Maryland had its lens illuminated by an Aladdin lamp as late as 1939. For many years, Aladdin lamps were also kept ready in case of power failures in electrically powered light houses throughout the world.

The Aladdin kerosene burner was used in the famous Servel and Electrolux refrigeration units, which preserved serum and plasma on the battlefields during World War II. Also during World War II, Aladdin was granted permission by the War Production Board to use copper. It was reasoned that usage of Aladdin kerosene mantle lamps would save much precious wiring that would have been required to electrify new homes.

Aladdin records also show that Aladdin kerosene mantle lamps were widely used in the African medical mission operated by the late Dr. Albert Schweitzer during the years 1913-1965.

Merchandising the Alladin Lamps

Radio Advertising
The Mantle lamp Company pioneered in the use of the radio as a new advertising medium. The story of Aladdin lamps was the first paid commercial radio message in the Midwest. It aired in 1927, on KFNF in Shenandoah, Iowa, for $500 and produced 2,200 letters asking for more information.

The Mantle Lamp Company also sponsored the live broadcasts of the Barn Dance Frolic program over WLS, Chicago, and WHO, Des Moines.

In the early 1930's, well known radio personality Smilin' Ed McConnell promoted the Aladdin lamps over WLW, Cincinnati with remarkable success.

Variety of Models
Sixteen models of the Aladdin lamps were made in the United Stares from 1909 to 1968.

Many models were made of brass finished in bright nickel, satin brass or Old English brass. Others were made of aluminum with a satin or polished finish.

And still others were made of glass. The glass lamps were made of clear and colored crystal, moonstone art glass and Alacite. Alacite was a unique, special glass developed only for use for Aladdin lamps in 1938. The color of Alacite varied from a solid ivory to a pinkish-beige.

Collectors Club

The Aladdin Knights of the Mystic Light, is a club made up of dedicated collectors of Aladdin lamps. There are 600 members from 47 states and seven provinces in Canada They correspond regularly through a bimonthly newsletter - The Mystic light - and gather once a year for a convention. A part of each convention is an auction at which lamps are bought and sold, with some rare models commanding prices of more than $1,000. The Aladdin Knights were organized in 1973, by J. W. Courter, a University of Illinois professor of horticulture, whose interests in Aladdin lamps resulted in his writing a book on the subject entitled, Aladdin - The Magic Name in Lamps. The collectors club was an outgrowth of Courter's correspondence with Aladdin collectors who read the book. Courier is president of the Aladdin Knights of the Mystic Light and as such is called the "Bright Knight."

Inside the Alladin Kerosene Mantle Lamp

The Mantle
The mantle is the all important light emitting part of the Aladdin lamp. It is a very fine filament which becomes incandescent when heated.

The mantle is made of a knitted cone shaped filament that is saturated in solution of metallic salts. This structure, when dry, is burned to form the final, unburnable, delicate light producing mantle. For protection against damage during shipping and handling, the mantles are dipped in lacquer solution. This coating is burned off before the mantle is used on lamp.

The Chimney
The Aladdin chimney, 12½ inches in height, is especially designed for use on Aladdin lamps. It is taller than chimneys typically used on kerosene lamps. The extra height draws in the proper amount of air for complete combustion of kerosene.

In an Aladdin kerosene mantle lamp, the kerosene is not burned primarily to produce light, but rather to produce heat. The heat of the nonluminous blue flame causes the non-burning mantle to incandesce and emit its characteristic intense pure white light.

Editor's Note: Reprinted from the Depression Glass Journal with permission from the McGrains.