Pair Miniature Columnar Sinumbra Lamps, about 1827–31
Cornelius and Company, Philadelphia (active 1827–31)
Gilt bronze and brass, with lamp mechanism, and with shades, blown, frosted, and wheel-cut, and glass chimneys
Each, 19 5/8 in. high (to tops of chimneys)
Signed (on hidden upper side of iron plates mounted under the base of each): C C Co 90
Many lamps have appeared bearing the name of Cornelius & Son and Cornelius & Baker of Philadelphia, but these lamps are largely datable stylistically or through patents to the 1840s and beyond. This unique pair of miniature sinumbra lamps, marked "C C Co 90" inside the base of each, is a recent discovery, and supplies new information about the early production of Cornelius & Company, lamp manufacturers of Philadelphia, which was founded in 1827 by Christian Cornelius, a silver platter, and his son Robert (1809-93). Since the name of the firm changed to Cornelius & Son when Robert became a partner in 1831, it would seem likely that these lamps were made in the years 1827-31. (The firm was known as Cornelius & Son from 1831-35, and, with the association of I.F. & W.C. Baker in 1835, as Cornelius & Baker until 1869).
Looking to the design of English lamps of the early to mid 1820s as a prototype, Cornelius & Company produced this pair of lamps (and presumably others, now lost) in competition with lamps being imported from England and France by various local retailers. The ornamental parts of the lamps are made of bronze and brass, which retain most of their original tinted gilt lacquer surface used to simulate the matte and burnished finish of ormolu or gilt bronze. The extremely rare original sinumbra shades, blown, frosted, and elaborately cut, were probably produced locally by one of the Philadelphia area glass houses. The extreme rarity of these lamps would suggest that they were presumably never fully introduced into the Cornelius line, as other lamps bearing one of the later Cornelius marks appear with considerable frequency.