Navigation Menu+

bracket lamp

bracket. A piece, or combination of pieces, of wood, stone, or metal, triangular in general shape, and either plain or ornamented, usually projecting from, or fastened to a wall, or other surface, to support shelves, statuary, or other objects. — Webster, 1882

Lighting was from oil lamps. The [depot] waiting room had bracket lamps on the walls with a circular mirror unit for reflection. These were stationery, except the lamp part could be taken down for filling and cleaning. The office lamps were portable. Those in the living rooms were similar and of the occupants’ personal choice. – Nat Stimson in De Smet News, 1978

A bracket lamp was an oil or kerosene light that sat in a holder that was attached to a wall. They typically had a shiny, concave metal disk affixed between the glass lamp chimney and the wall, both to reflect light back into the room and to provide a measure of fire protection between the wall and the hot flame. They were much less apt to be accidentally knocked over than a lamp standing on a table. Bracket lamps were popular in public places, such as schools, churches, stores, offices, and railroad cars and railroad depots. In Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote that there were bracket lamps in both the Congregational Church and the De Smet Depot.

A bracket lamp could be anything from a simple wall ring used to hold a lamp to an ornately decorative piece with an arm that extended or pivoted into a variety of positions. There were as many varieties as there are in lighting fixtures today. The period advertisement below shows a variety of bracket lamps; the image above is of a fancy parlor lamp. The lamp shown on the navigation button that brought you to this page is hanging in the Oxbow restaurant in De Smet, South Dakota. Have you seen it?


bracket lamp (LTP 19-20)