No, I’m not talking about stoves. I’m talking about lamps that were engineered in the early 20th century, when electricty was becoming more common in homes but wasn’t yet reliable. Many lamps were designed to provide either electric light or gas light; if the electricity went out, you had the option of lighting the gas jets — that would be handy even today. You’ve probably already seen lamps like this but didn’t notice them. After gas lighting was phased out, people recycled the old gas lamps by wiring them for electricity. If you have a chandelier and notice that it has valves, know that those aren’t just for decoration — they are the valves for adjusting the gas. In lamps that are wired for electricity, the valves have to stay stationary. Turning the valves could damage the wires.
Lamps that were designed for both gas and electricity are even easier to spot: they feature lamps that point down (electric) and lamps that point up (gas jets). After AC current was invented, electricity became far more reliable, and people stopped using gas entirely.
However, many houses from the Victorian and Edwardian eras still have the gas pipes in the walls, and in many cases, the pipes still draw gas. Can you imagine? A house still drawing gas for lights no longer in use, 100 years later? Spooky. Then again, that does make it much easier to bring back gas lighting.
“Who’d want to do that?” you ask.
People who have old houses and appreciate authenticity, that’s who. In these two videos, you’ll see gas lamps in action. Many of them are the dual gas/electric kind, with just the gas jets lit. Gives you an idea of what life was like in 1901!
I’m a little jealous of that porch.