An Original Cap and Lamp, Circa Late 1800's
Image Courtesy lebint.com
During the early phase of the California Gold Rush, most of the mining activity involved surface deposits of Placer Gold. As these deposits grew scarce, some miners began exploring for Lode or Vein Gold deposits below the earth's surface. Miners literally had to change hats and that simple fact lead to my idea for the perfect prop.
|A Original Cap Sans Lamp|
Note the Leather Peak and Metal Part to Secure the Lamp
Image source inknown
|My Version of a Miner's Cap and Lamp|
Ready for Work
Photo by author
Most of the original caps seem to be made of canvas or some stout cotton, in colors ranging from tan to grey or grey/green. For my version, I chose blue denim. The fixture that affixed the lamp safely to the cap's front, seems to vary more in materials than in shape. Some examples are leather only, others are metal and some appear to be metal and composition (?). I decided to laminate several layers of leather for stiffness in making my lamp mount and riveted it to the cap's peak and body with copper harness rivets.
|Original 1885 Bill of Sale |
Showing Classic Miner's Cap-Lamp
Image source unknown
Now came the fun part, the minature oil lamp, apparently (by one period account) called a "pet" lamp. These little lamps are highly collectable and well documented as untold variations exist in form and materials. To see an amazing collection, go visit miningartifacts.homestead.com . For the most part, these lamps have the appearance of tiny teapots with there spouts functioning as wick guides. They also universally have a hook device on the rear, to engage the mount on the cap.
|Another View of My Cap and Lamp|
For my close copy, I went with a basic style lamp in tinplate, with a moderately long spout. The important thing to me was to create a functioning authentic version of the miner's cap, rather than an exact replica of a known example.
|Photo by Lindy Miller 2013|
Speaking of function, as you can see, I couldn't resist trying the darn thing out. Contrary to my wife's opinion, having a flame coming out of your head was the least risky part of a hard-rock miner's life.
This is my 50th post and with that in mind, I would like to thank all of the viewers who have found my ramblings of some interest. I appreciate your curiosity and positive comments too.