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

Contents  >  Other brands > San Diego Kerosene Mantle Lamp Co.



San Diego Kerosene Mantle Lamp Company

The San Diego Kerosene Lamp Company of San Diego California was a short lived company that has fallen into obscurity.  We are only now rediscovering this early mantle lamp company.  If you have any additional information about the company or own one of these lamps, please .

I do not have actual dates but they appear to have been in business from around 1905 or '06 into the depression years.  Production quantities appear to be low and very few examples have been found. So far every lamp I know of can be traced to California from the Sacramento valley South.

There are a number of parallels between the early years of Aladdin and the San Diego Kerosene Mantle Lamp Company.  Both companies went into business at about the same time.  They both had a new and different centre draft mantle burner and used preexisting tooling for the lamp bases. The major contrast was that the Mantle Lamp company of America (Aladdin) was very good at marketing whereas the San Diego Kerosene Mantle Lamp Company never seemed to have gotten its distributorship off the ground and their few dealers seemed to all be in California.

The San Diego lamp was available as a table lamp and as a font lamp in both brass and nickel plated finishes The lamp was available as a standard diameter oil pot lamp in brass finish..  Bradley& Hubbard manufactured the lamp for the San Diego Kerosene mantle Lamp Company. B&H basically took their existing Radiant 4 lamp font, with "San Diego" embossed near the burner threads and added the new burner, which at first glance looks like a copy of a German Kronos mantle lamp burner.

The mantle burner is covered under US patent number 916,889 issued to Bernard F. Roehrig of San Diego on 30 march 1909. This patent covers the flame spreader, mantle mount and support.  The patent was applied for on 26-Oct-1906.

patent page 1
patent page 2
patent page 3
patent page 4

A glass shade was offered for the lamp.  The shade holder attaches at the burner base and has three straight arms  The glass shade has been reproduced by B&P and is available today.

The nickel plated San Diego table Lamp pictured to the left was found in California and is owned by Curt Hanson.   The chimney on this lamp is original. Curt removed an Aladdin mantle from its frame, placed it on the lamp and burned the lamp.  He reports that the entire mantle glows brightly and the lamp seems to work quite well.



I purchased the brass table lamp illustrating this page in the mid 1980's from a private party mostly because it was attractive And a complete mystery. This lamp has a Rayo filler cap and the wick raiser knob is the typical B&H/Rayo pattern.

Embossed a long the top of the font in large scrip is "San Diego".   On the opposite side is a list of patent dates: April 23 1895, August 16, 1898 and February 28, 1905. These are all Bradley and Hubbard/Rayo patent dates. On top of the wick raiser is "PAT''D JUNE 7 1898. My table lamp gallery has no markings. I contacted a number of lamp collectors trying to find out more about this lamp.  This lamp was known as a very rare version of the B&H Radiant 4 lamp and the few collectors who had one had placed B&H radiant 4 burners on them believing that the B&H burner was correct for the lamp.

Later, I found a brass finish font lamp version of the San Diego owned by Tom Rancadore.  Tom's lamp also illustrates this page. The gallery on his lamp is marked "PAT''D MAR. 30 '09 OTHERS PENDING"  This was the patent that covers the mantle burner for the San Diego lamp and the key to unlocking the mystery of the lamp.  This also implies that my lamp was manufactured prior to the patent date.

Since then a couple more lamps have been found and people have started pooling knowledge about this little known lamp company and its products. If you have any additional information about the company or own one of these lamps, please .


The Lamps

This nickel plated font lamp was purchased from  seller near San Diego. It is complete except for a broken mantle holder and missing chimney.

I guess that the font lamps were used in the same hangers and wall brackets as the B&H radiant 4 lamps. The B&H hanger would need to have a 6.5 inch diameter opening for the lamp to fit.

San Diego oil pot mantle lamp

San Diego Oil Pot mantle lamp
Oil pot version of the San Diego mantle lamp manufactured by B&H.

Photos by Michael Brotherton



San Diego lamps are embossed in script at the top of the font but otherwise appear to be standard B&H Rayo Radiant 4 lamps.

The threads will accept a standard Radiant 4 burner as well as the San Diego mantle burner.  The centre draft tube is also unchanged. 

The San Diego table lamp has the standard Radiant 4 foot.

The patent covers the gallery (shown), flame spreader support, flame spreader and mantle holder.

The chimney on this lamp is not correct and 1/16th of an inch too narrow.  It was a guess based upon early German mantle lamps. 


The San Diego flame spreader fits into the centre draft tube and sits below the mantle holder platform.

Above is a picture of the disassembled burner.  Notice the detachable gallery allows the  chimney, gallery and mantle assembly to be raised as an intact subassembly.  This allows the wick to be lit without disturbing the fragile mantle.  The detachable gallery is covered in the patent.

The pictures below show the 3 arm support for the ceramic mantle holder mounted into a gallery.

Below is a picture of an assembled San Diego gallery with flame spreader, mantle holder and support. The mantle is held by a ceramic rod with a wire core that sits inside the mantle.  The top has a fork to hold the top mantle wire.  The fork on this holder has a broken tine. The rod is 1/8th inch in diameter.

This is three views of the filler cap found on my font lamp.   My early table lamp had a Rayo filler cap.

The chimney is a long slightly tapered cylinder (see Curt's lamp near the top of the page).  It is 12-7/8 inches long, 2-1/16" (52 mm) od at the base and tapers down to 1-15/16" od at the top.   There is no bulge or bulb to it.

The Wick is an unreinforced tubular wick.

The wick is 6-3/4 inches long, with a 2 inch slit on each side at the bottom.  Flat, it measures 1-5/8 inches wide.  The wick is stamped "SAN DIEGO" in red ink.  A reinforced Aladdin wick is just a tad too narrow to fit.   The OD on the San Diego inner wick tube is 0.935 inches.  The OD of an Aladdin model 1 inner wick tube is 0.925 inches dia.


To date the only advertising found for this lamp is an ad that appeared in a pamphlet passed out at the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Francisco.  We are still in the early stages of rediscovering the lamp and the company.

Ad preserved by the San Diego Historical Society, found and shared by Bill Courter.  Thank you Bill for your outstanding diligent research.  We all owe much to you.


The San Diego lamp Mantle Company later became the San Diego Lamp & Mfg. Company and produced a pressurized gas lamp which was patented in 1924. At this time it is assumed that the company was an early casualty of the great depression.

San Diego mantle Lamp Company gas lamp

The San Diego gas lamp has nickel-plated brass tank, a non-ferrous ventilator (brass?), and mica shade. Bottom of the tank and the frame are steel.

Markings on San Diego gas lamp





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