Out of the Museum

A rock-based question this week

-A +A


Where: Beermann Plaza at 640 5th St.

When: Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

Free: Donations always accepted

The Lincoln Area Archives Museum off of 5th Street has everything from farm exhibits to veterans’ photos to pottery.

This week’s mystery item is obviously a rock. Can you tell from the lines on the rock what it was used for after a resident would pick it up?

If you know or might know what this week’s mystery item was used for, please send answers to by Tuesday.


Last week’s mystery item

Susan Schutte almost had the identity right for last week’s mystery item:  “Hi, my 72nd birthday is Sunday, Jan. 20 but I am old enough to remember my grandfather using oil-burning lamps. None looked exactly like this one of yours. Ours had a tall glass globe around it and you would trim the wicks or roll them low to adjust the flame. That’s my guess.”

Happy birthday, Susan, who was correct. Many similar lamps burned oil. The museum’s lamp, though, burned alcohol.

Larry Lynn gave us more information: “This week’s item is a lamp that was used by jewelers and watchmakers, a jeweler’s lamp. The glass bulb sits on top of an open base that allows it to be positioned in various angles as needed.”

Last week’s mystery item was a jeweler’s lamp with the patent dates of Sept. 14, 1880 and March 14, 1893. Both patents were obtained by John H. Purdy of Chicago, Illinois. His 1893 patent addressed the problem of keeping the sphere from moving in the holder. The altered lamp had a thicker bottom, giving it more mass than the upper half and providing greater base stability.

Many fires were attributed to jeweler’s lamps, causing damage to jewelers and their jewelry in the late 1800s and early 1900s, according to museum docents.

The museum’s jeweler’s lamp belonged to the family of donor Paul Long for four generations.  Paul’s great-grandfather, Christopher Kruger of Berlin, Iowa, was the first family member to own the lamp.

Check out the Lincoln Area Archives Museum between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at Beermann Plaza at 640 5th St.

- Carol Feineman