'Snotnose' Oil Lamp
This charming pewter snotneus or 'snotnose' lamp originates from the Netherlands and dates back to the 19th century. It is likely to have functioned within a domestic space, providing light in a home by burning vegetable or whale oil – popular lubricants at the time. The name refers to the physical design and function of the lamp, which would have been quite messy to operate. The oil would have been poured into the nose and a wick inserted into the spout. Excess oil, both burned and unburned, would often drip into the circular reservoir beneath the container, resembling the leaky nose for which it is named. Other models might have been made from copper, brass, tin, or earthenware/pottery and were popular in the Netherlands, England, and other countries across Europe. This object exists as a good example of this style of lamp and remains in excellent condition with little wear or discoloration. As both a decorative and functional lamp, this would be a wonderful piece to display as a table ornament!
At this time in history, the Netherlands in the early 19th century existed under the rulership of William V of Orange (now William I, r. 1815–1840) who united the Northern Netherlands and Austrian Netherlands in 1815. His reign largely focused on the modernization of industry and unification of the Low Countries through language and culture. William I’s successors further encouraged prosperity in trade and the Dutch economy. However, despite various forms of industrial advancements, life in the countryside remained largely the same throughout the 19th century, and the same humble oil lamps, such as this one, which had been used for extended periods, remained on the tables, nightstands, and windowsills providing light to rural homesteads.