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By The Light Of The Paraffin Lamp - W Kregu Swiatla Lampy Naftowej
By The Light Of The Paraffin Lamp - W Kregu Swiatla Lampy Naftowej

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Light and energy have played a fundamental role in Man's development and have made a major contribution to the advancement of civilization.  This has also been true of petroleum oil and the paraffin lamp, the origins of which go back to the Sub-Carpathian region in Southern Poland.  The first oil wells and refineries which produced paraffin (kerosene), a fraction of petroleum oil used in lamps, were set up in the area around the towns of Sanok, Krosno, Jaslo, Gorlice, and in Boryslaw and Drohobycz in Eastern Galicia.

In 1853 in Lwow Ignacy Lukasiewicz and Jan Zeh obtained paraffin by distilling petroleum oil.  It was first used as a fuel for illumination by Lukasiewicz in a lamp he constructed.  Poland's petroleum industry started in the region known as Sub-Carpathia, so it is not surprising that the museum for paraffin lamps, Muzeum Lamp Naftowych (its official name is Muzeum Podkarpackie W Krosno - The Sub-Carpathian Museum, Krosno), is situated in Krosno, a town in the middle of the area.  Our museum is the proud owner of one of the world's biggest collection of paraffin lamps.

About a dozen kilometres south of Krosno, at a small place called Bobrka, there is an open-air museum (official name Muzeum Przemyslu Naftowego I Gazowniczego W Bobrze - the Ignacy Lukasziewicz Muzeum for the Gas and Oil Industry, Bobrka) with apparatus and installations dating back to the very first days of oil extraction and distillation, original exhibits going back to the times of Lukasiewicz and connected with his work.  The two museums share the same roots, recording the origins of the oil industry.  Before the Second World War there was still an impressive array of oil-derricks to the north of Krosno, not many of which survived to the present day.  Oil made the region's wealth and its inhabitants' fortunes.

Apart from their practical purpose, the provision of lighting, paraffin lamps soon turned into a new type of objet d'art and were made in the best work-shops of Europe and America.  They were produced to light up princes' palaces and peasants' cottages, town and country.  They came in all shapes and sizes, and the materials they would be made of depended on the affluence of the purchaser.  The component common to all of them was the paraffin oil (kerosene).

Despite the tremendous progress in the sources of development of light and energy, paraffin lamps still command a great deal of affection, while petroleum oil is still a major source of energy.  Young and old visitors to our Museums find the beauty and variety of shapes and sizes of the lamps in our exhibition fascinating and delightful, and some of the seniors among them can still remember paraffin lamps for their childhood days.

This album is the biggest and most comprehensive publication up to the present time on paraffin lamps.  The exhibits it illustrates cover a time-span from 1860 to 1960, showing all the basic types of lamps in our two Museums.  Our collections amount to 62.5 lamp exhibits at Krosno, and 250 items at Bobrka.  In this book you will also find information on the history of lighting.  It presents an overview of our collections, and we hope all interested in the history of paraffin lamps and lighting in Poland an abroad will find it helpful.  We would like it to bring back memories of a bygone time, the heyday of the paraffin lamp.
  • Hardcover
  • 319 pages
  • 227 color photos
  • Polish - English Text
  • Size 9.75 x 9.25" - 25cm x 23.5cm

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