When a local Vendor brought some boxes of unwanted collectables into Sheffield Auction Gallery recently, two unassuming brass miners lamps caught the eye of one of the valuers.
Research revealed that the smaller and more unusual looking one was a George Stephenson “Geordie” safety lamp, with mesh covered central burner, the base stamped “11”.
In the early 19th Century English Engineer Stephenson who was working as an enginewright at a colliery near Newcastle, invented a lamp that would burn safely in the fiery environment of a mine, without causing an explosion. Controversially at the same time, Sir Humphrey Davy was also working on the problem and devised a solution of his own, which was generally accepted as being the first; he even accused Stephenson of copying him. As Stephenson was originally from Northumberland miners in the North East used the Stephenson lamp and there is even a theory that this is what gave them the nickname “Geordies”. Stephenson later went on to invent the steam locomotive and today Chesterfield Museum holds a gallery of his memorabilia with a statue of the engineer outside Chesterfield Railway station.
Whilst the auctioneers had initially estimated the Lot very conservatively, pre-auction interest was considerable as these lamps rarely come onto the open market. On auction day there was substantial interest by commission and telephone bidders as well as buyers who had traveled long distances to be at the Saleroom. The auctioneer opened the bidding at £1,200 and quickly climbed to a final selling price of £2,600 (plus buyers premium), with the successful bidder present in the Saleroom.
Sheffield Auction Gallery’s next internet Collectors auction is 7th February, for further information on this and other Sales, please contact the Auction Gallery on 0114 281 6161