The oil lamp shown here is something my parents displayed in one of the cabinets, but I really never knew much about it. They would pull it out and use it when we lost power. I had forgotten about the lamp until my husband and I were home helping my parents clean out the house, and making keep or toss piles. I tucked it into my pile of 'keepers.'
When my family first moved to Astoria Oregon, the town I grew up in, we lived in an old Victorian place on the river. What I remember most about living by the river was the fog that would bring the bridges or the old pier pilings in and out of focus.
Astoria is the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi; at the end of the Lewis and Clark trail. So there are lots of relics from various periods of western history. My early memories of our house on the river were of the 4th floor with windows all the way around the upper floor (probably to watch the ships), and below the windows were small apothecary drawers where I hid all my treasures.
The oil lamp stayed in boxes for many, many years. Traveling from our San Francisco home to our Connecticut one. I pulled it out this year after being intrigued by a few of the British bloggers who do something called mudlarking. But what exactly is it? I had not heard this term until a few months ago. A mudlark is someone who scavenges in river mud for items of value. A term used especially to describe Londoners who scavenged along the banks of the Thames during low tide in the late 18th-19th centuries. Then I remembered the lamp I had been carrying around with me from coast to coast. My father had told me that this lamp had been found in the mud along the Columbia River. Ha ... My Dad the mudlarker!
So I set out on a mission to figure out what, and where this lamp might have come from. After researching it online I discovered that is was likely an Aladin lamp popular during the turn of the century. Further research told me that it was an Amethyst Lincoln Drape with a crowfoot base likely manufactured between 1941-1953. Ok, so maybe not as old as I thought it was, but still pretty cool. I'm a total geek for history.
I'm one of those people who loves the Antique Road Show. And the stories I love most are the ones where someone finds a priceless antique that they cleaned up with pledge. It just cracks me up. One lady found a museum piece... a Milanese helmet worth at least $250,000. The appraiser looked at her (after she confessed to use of pledge) and told her "this really should be in a museum." Man, that one had me rolling.
I would encourage you all to check out two of my favorite bloggers who mudlark. The first, Tania of Moonflygirl, makes the most beautiful jewelry from her finds. Look at these triple drop earrings she's done from pottery with what's called a Willow Pattern. I am always so amazed by how she sees just the right shard to work with. The other blog is simply called Mudlarking. In this second one Julia focuses on the history behind the pieces she finds. The one I am showing here is recent find that she's matched to the head dress Anne Boleyn likely wore. How cool is that? Ok, so my little town doesn't have the rich history that these two UK ladies have available along the Thames, but still it is fun to get out there and find a piece of history.