Aladdin Mantle History
The incandescent mantle was invented by Carl Aur Von Welsbach of
Austria and patented in 1885. Certain rare earth element oxides
incandescence brightly under high heat. Baron Von Welsbach
was the first to come up with a practical use for this phenomenon.
His patent covered a cylindrical framework of gauze impregnated
with oxides of thorium and cerium. Placed over gas lamp
burners jetted for heat and not light, it produces a much brighter
light than an bare gas burner flame. When the gas is ignited,
the mantle fabric burns away, leaving a brittle residual lattice
of metal oxides. Light is produced when this lattice is heated
to glowing by the
gas combustion, although the mantle itself does not burn.
It was estimated that American consumers alone used 4,000,000
mantles per year when gas lighting was commonly used. Unfortunately
this invention came just as the electric
light lighting was starting to take hold in the big cities. Edison developed the first light bulb that lasted longer than one day in 1879, six years before the incandescent mantle was first patented. While the incandescent mantle lamp is the apex of kerosene lamp technology, it was doomed by the electric light where ever electric wires were stretched.
Incandescent mantles had been used on round wick kerosene lamps
for several years before the Mantle Lamp Company of America as
founded. By then the general shape, size and mesh size needed
to glow properly under a kerosene round wick was well understood
and several companies had been manufacturing both centre draft
and side draft kerosene incandescent mantle lamps. The
remaining problem area seemed to be how to best suspend the mantle
over the flame in the exact correct location to get a full even
glow and how to make the process easily enough do that anyone could
do it first time.
Early unmounted mantle
Originally, lamps used a single inverted L shaped arm
to support a frame less mantle. The lamp owner adjusted the
height of the mantle over the flame for the best most uniform
method was pretty hit an miss. There was a short metal
truncated cone that was part of the gallery that the
bottom of the mantle had to sit over with the sides suspended
down a little ways over the cone to just the right place. If
the location was off, one side or end of the mantle might glow
fully and the other not.
A later alternative method was to have an inverted U shaped
frame with a hook in the middle that the unmounted wick could
be suspended from. This method was used until
the mid 1950's on Famos burners (and briefly by Coleman)
that were derived from an Ehrich & Graetz design.
The San Diego Mantle Lamp Company used a forked ceramic
rod sitting vertically at the center top of the lamp that
supported an unmounted mantle from the inside center.
The Cone mantle used with the Aladdin model 1 & 2 was a vast
improvement over the earlier adjustable hang man shape hanger
and eliminated the handling of an unmounted mantle that the previous
The Cap mantle came pre-mounted on an inverted U shaped frame
that was attached to a base. The base slid down over the
cone which was part of the gallery. This made centering
of the cone easier to do and minimized direct handling of the mantle
The Aladdin cap mantle was anchored inside its box with a cardboard piece that held it by the top frame. The cotton wad was placed on top to keep the mantle and cardboard from moving inside the box.
The KoneKap mantle Aladdin patented for the model 3 brought yet
another level of precision placement of the mantle in relation
to the wick. Basically the cone was removed from the gallery
and became part of the mantle assembly. The base of the
mantle assembly was located on the gallery with better precision.
This guaranteed the proper location of the mantle in relation to
the cone which funneled the heat to the mantle. The KoneKap
mantle made it much easier for people to add a new mantle and
have everything work properly with no fiddling. It provided Aladdin
with a real technology lead over companies using earlier mantle
Aladdin Kone Kap Mantles
The Lox-on mantle was introduced with the model 12 in
cone at the base of the mantle was transferred from the mantle
frame back to the gallery. The new mantle locked into
position over the cone maintaining the
correct spatial relationship between the flame and the mantle. The
flanges of the wire support locked onto slots at the top
outer rim of the gallery. This
mantle was cheaper to produce than the KoneKap mantle with
no reduction in reliability.
The design placed the bottom of the mantle frame up against
the cone. Air gaps at this junction can cause flame
spikes and erratic burning. An early Lox-0n gallery with
a damaged rim may never burn correctly. An air gap between
the mantle and gallery us the most common cause of "problem
the years the design of the lox-on mantle frame has undergone
changes to reduce manufacturing costs. The first real change
was for the Model C lamp. This was labeled the "improved"
mantle. Two skirts were added to the bottom of the
gallery frame that slide over the sides of the cone. At
the same time the turned up outer lip on the mantle frame
was eliminated reducing the mantle's manufacturing cost. The
outer lip provided a 360 degree barrier to the bottom
of the mantle bag, keeping it in place and protected. The
new mantles are more fragile than the mantles made for model
12, B and 14 lamps.
Loxon locking system was changed for the introduction of
model 21 gallery (which is itself a cost reduced gallery). The
new mounting system is made up of four tiny tabs on the inside
lower ring of the mantle frame where it fits against the
cone and corresponding slots in the gallery cone. The new
mantles will still lock into old galleries using the wire
Early Lox-On mantle
Later the bottom skirts of the improved mantle was changed with
the addition of triangular slits up the side of each skirt. This
seems to have been done for the model 23 gallery. I do not
have the exact changeover point identified yet.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Mantles made for model 12, A, B, C and 14 lamps will not lock onto the
Improved mantles for the model C can be held in place by a friction fit between
the bottom skirts and the cone but care must be taken to keep
the fit tight. Mantles
made for model 21, 21C, 23 and 23A burners will lock on to the earlier
gallery. If you decide to stock up on lox-On mantles, the
best to secure for all around use are English made mantles marked
for use with models 12, B and 21 that have the bottom lip on the frame
and the new locking system.
Never touch a mantle anyplace except the frame. Even if the protective
coating has not been burned off. Doing so will leave an oil
spot that will cause additional heat and early mantle failure. Once the protective covering is burned off, the mantle is very
fragile and can be destroyed by tilting or jarring the lamp.
Handle a lamp with a mantle gently and don't tilt it. I have heard that if a used mantle is to be shipped that it could
be coated with hair spray to make it more rigid. Once the
move is over the hair spray can be removed with a match in the
same way the coating is removed from a new mantle. I have
not yet had an opportunity to try this to see if or how well it
Removing a broken mantle
Care should be taken when disposing of a broken mantle. The
mantle, being composed of rare earth elements, is very slightly
radioactive so you do not want fine particles from a broken mantle
to become part of the household dust. Remove the chimney
then vacuum the mantle material to get it off the lamp and trapped
inside the vacuum. Do
not breath the mantle dust and remember to wash your hands after
disposing of the mantle frame. This is just a good practice
suggestion as mantle particle radiation levels are very low. Radiation
levels from trapped Radon gas is often higher in homes than that
from loose mantle dust.
humidity storage has been implicated in early failure of mantles. If
this is indeed a primary cause of early mantle failure and
you wish to store mantles for future use, placing them (still
in their boxes) in a sealed plastic bag along with a packet of
desiccant seems like a good idea.