In November of 1938, Rushlight editor Leroy Thwing wrote, "As a whole, kerosene lamps are not old enough to be antiques, but that is something that time will amend. To complete the story of lamp burners, something should be said about [them]."
Professor J.W. Courter (a.k.a. "Bill" and the "Bright Knight") has indeed written "something about kerosene lamps" in a monumental book that should be regarded as a milestone in lighting research. The book actually delivers much more than the title promises, as there is a section on earlier center-draft kerosene lamps, and also an appendix that includes many side-draft kerosene burners.
Organized alphabetically by manufacturers, Courter has included examples of American lamps and some European burners that were sold in the United States. It is not a book that you will sit down and read cover to cover; as interesting tidbits attract your attention you will probably find yourself flipping back and forth to the extensive index.
It is difficult to name the best aspect of the book: it is either the thousands of period illustrations and advertising, or it is the research on over fifty manufacturers that produced the lamps.
Since most of the lamps are brass and nickel, Courter was able to use black-and-white images without losing information useful for research purposes. A happy result of this decision is that the hardcover 448 page book retails for only $24.95, a bargain price for such a wealth of lighting information.
Even if you do not collect center-draft kerosene lamps, this book probably has something useful for you in it. I should also include a fair warning based on personal experience - once you own a copy, you will begin to notice these lamps when you are out antiquing. Some of them are quite rare and interesting.
Available from Collector Books, P.O. Box 3009, Paducah, KY 42002-3009
Toll Free - 800-626-5420 www.collectorbooks.com