TeriAnn's Guide to Aladdin and other brands of kerosene Mantle Lamps

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Connecticut Trading Company ( CONTRACO )

(1907 - 1931 )



The Connecticut Trading Company of Clinton Connecticut was formed in April of 1907 by partners Edward F. Cole and Charles "Chas" B. Wyckoff. They filed for the trademark "CONTRACO"April 15th 1908 stating that the name had been in use by the company since September 1907. The trademark was registered in the United States Patent office on November 10, 1908.

Initially the company was set up to import from Germany and sell to sales agents within the United States and Canada. They imported Sinumbra inverted incandescent alcohol lamps for commercial use (soon sold under the CONTRACO name), Wonder alcohol stoves, Alcohol irons and the Practicus side draft kerosene mantle burner as an upgrade for flat wick kerosene lamps. The company quickly saw the advantage of being able to offer complete kerosene mantle lamps as well burners for lamp upgrades and turned to Plume & Atwood in nearby Waterbury Connecticut to manufacture lamp bases to go with their burner. Thus the American version of the Practicus lamp was born.

The Connecticut Trading Company was granted exclusive license to to sell these products in the United States and Canada. They in turn granted their sales agents exclusive sales regions. One of their early associates was Victor Johnson who formed the Western Lighting Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Within a year Victor Johnson moved to Chicago Illinois to form the Mantle Lamp Company. When Victor Johnson moved to Chicago it appears that his exclusive license to sell Practicus lamps in Minnesota may have been transferred to the Minnesota Trading Company. Victor Johnson evidently secured a different licensing agreement with the Connecticut Trading Company allowing him a larger sales region for Practicus mantle lamps.

In the meantime, Plume and Atwood, having gained experience with the Practicus burner designed a centre draft and a side draft incandescent mantle burner. It appears that the Connecticut Trading Company started offering the center draft lamp developed by Plume & Atwood in April or May of 1908 under the CONTRACO trade name. In the same time frame Plume & Atwood sold their center draft lamps to other companies as well, creating such brands as Kim and Sunlight.

Something happened around late 1908 or early 1909. The Mantle Lamp Company which had been selling Practicus lamps under license from the Connecticut Trading Company suddenly stopped offering Plume & Atwood lamps with the Practicus burner and for a brief period started offering lamps with the newly developed Sunbeam side draft burner on Plume & Atwood founts.* This was soon followed by the Mantle Lamp Company ending up with an exclusive license to sell the centre draft lamps manufactured by Plume & Atwood under the brand Name of Aladdin. The Connecticut Trading Company then turned to Edward Miller & Company for mantle lamps. The E. Miller mantle lamp department was formed to produce mantle lamps for other companies.

In 1909 The Edward Miller Mantle Lamp Division started producing two identical brands of mantle lamp. One was the E. Miller Sundart lamp sold directly by Miller. The other was branded CONTRACO. Today the CONTRACO lamps manufactured by Plume & Atwood are better known than the CONTRACO lamps manufactured by E. Miller & CO. because the lamp was a twin to the well known Aladdin model 1. It appears that The Connecticut Trading Company was a victim of the great depression and filed for bankruptcy in 1931.

From its founding until the beginning of World War I in 1914 the Connecticut Trading Company-used mantles and chimneys imported from Germany and branded with the CONTRACO trademark.


* From Aladdin The Magic Name in Lamps revised ed. page 43 "The Mantle lamp Company purchased and assembled lamps and accessories they sold from 1908 until late 1910 or 1911.  These included the Practicus, No 1 Sunbeam and models 1 & 2." and page 44 "Johnson applied for trademark registration of the name Aladdin while he continued selling the Practicus, soon replacing it with the Sunbeam burner made by P&A.  At the same time he was in the process of negotiating with P&A for a center draft mantle lamp that he would name Aladdin." Quoted with permission from the author.



Practicus mantle lamps

Practicus table lamp

Practicus lamps made from Practicus burners imported from Germany mounted on lamp bases produced by Plume & Atwood were the Connecticut Trading Company's first complete kerosene lamp offering. These lamps were sold to independent sales agents who in turn sold them to customers. Aladdin started as a regional sales agent to the Connecticut Trading Company.

The Connecticut Trading Company sold these lamps in 1907 and 1908.

For additional information and pictures the Practicus lamp has its own web page.


Unmounted mantle for PracticusCONTRACO mantle box
Unmounted mantle sold by the Connecticut Trading Company for use on the Practicus lamps and early CONTRACO lamps


CONTRACO lamps made by Plume & Atwood

CONTRACO 1-1/2 qt table lamp
CONTRACO 1-1/2 quart table lamp

The Connecticut Trading Company started offering centre draft lamps made by Plume & Atwood in early summer of 1908. Their first version was a parlor lamp, followed a few months later with other models.

The Connecticut Trading Company offered a parlor lamp, 1-1/2 quart table lamp. 1 quart table lamp, a fount lamp and an oil pot lamp.

Except for the marking on the wick adjustment knob these lamps are identical to the Aladdin model 1 lamps. For lamp detail pictures please refer to my Aladdin model 1 web page.

The patent for this burner was filed by Plume & Atwood on April 10, 1908 and published on October 13, 1908. The first Plume & Atwood manufactured CONTRACO lamps were offered while the patent was still pending.

CONTRACO wick adjustment knob


CONTRACO 1 quart table lamp
CONTRACO 1 quart table lamp

CONTRACO fount lamp
CONTRACO fount lamp

The set screw clamped the wire from which the unmounted mantle was hung.


CONTRACO burner exploded view
Exploded view of a CONTACO burner made by Plume & Atwood. Except for the knob markings it is identical to the Aladdin model 1 burner.


CONTRACO lamps made by the E. Miller Mantle Lamp Department

CONTRACO by Miller

CONTRACO 1909 ad
Ad from 1909 Farm Journal for agents to sell the new CONTRACO lamp

Starting in 1909 the Connecticut Trading Company offered mantle lamps manufactured by the E. Miller Mantle Lamp Department.




Ad above and below from July 1908 House Furnishings Review, Vol 29

CONTRACO ad for P&A lamps

CONTRACO Alcohol lamps


CONTRACO 1909 ad
Proof that the Connecticut Trading Company also offered a 65 C.P. alcohol incandescent mantle burner as well - from July 1908 House Furnishings Review, Vol 29

Contraco burner ad




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