Q: My grandmother gave me a kerosene lamp that she said was used by her own grandmother. I’d like to use the lamp as a centerpiece on Thanksgiving. Can you help me figure out how old it might be?
A: Let’s start by finding out when kerosene was first available. “Brilliant: the Evolution of Artificial Light” by Jane Brox provides the following information.
Brox writes, “In 1849, Canadian geologist Abraham Gesner developed a way to extract what he called ‘kerosene’ from asphaltum (asphalt.)