This pair of Argand lamps are a fine example of 19th century New York decorative arts. Invented and patented in 1780 by Swiss chemist Aimé Argand, the output of an Argand lamp was significantly brighter than that of earlier lamps. The lamp was introduced to Thomas Jefferson in Paris in 1784, and according to him it gave off, “a light equal to six or eight candles.” The lamp used whale oil, seal oil, olive oil or other vegetable oil as fuel, which was supplied by a gravity feed from a reservoir mounted above the burner.
The lion’s paw feet, and dolphin designs were common motifs used by makers in New York City during the period. Inscribed on them is “B. Gardiner, N. York.” Baldwin Gardiner operated an import warehouse and silver manufactory in New York from 1828-1836.