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Book of Non-electric Lighting: The Classic Guide to the Safe Use of Candles, Fuel Lamps, Lanterns Gas Lights and Firestoves [Paperback]

Tim Matson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

9 May 2008
This book could save your light in a blackout! In this comprehensive and engaging guide, Tim Matson surveys an often-overlooked aspect of independent living-firelight. Beginning with an explanation of the lighting system he developed in his Vermont home, he describes in lively detail all the elements of firelight: the romantic history, modern molding, and mood-lighting of candlepower; traditional kerosene lamps; the versatile Aladdin lamp; liquid propane (LP) gaslights; kerosene, paraffin and gas pressure lanterns; incandescent mantle safety; the "Return of Firelight" from glass-fronted hearths and stoves. In addition, Matson shows how to select, assemble, install, and safely maintain these non-electric sources of light, and provides a list of reputable sources for finding and purchasing safe indoor and outdoor lighting products. This guide will be indispensable for vacation homes, camps, boats, RVs, and independent homesteads. And, of course, anywhere in a blackout.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2 edition (9 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881507946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881507942
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 968,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Non electric lighting 21 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very interesting to read
Gives many informations and news about lighting and very useful to lamp collectors as I am
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great for the novice; could use a bit more information. 2 Sep 2011
By totallyfrozen - Published on
This book is priceless for someone who is new to non-electric lighting or is completely unfamiliar with it. Matson gives a bit of history, a bit of introduction to the various types of firelight, a bit of detailed instruction on how to use the various types of lights. The book has limited information on cleaning, maintenance, and upkeep of the various lights.

The book itself contains only black and white photos (no color) which points back to its initial printing in the early 80's. While this is a new edition of the book, much of the content seems to be the same as the First Edition and the photos have not been updated. This book will last a long time! The paper quality is impressive. The pages are such heavy weight paper that it's nearly made of cardboard!

Matson's focus is on the "living off the grid" alternative lifestyle. Because of that, Matson seems to focus primarily on brightness of the lighting and a little bit of the eco-friendly element of certain lighting types. Portability, weight, fuel availability, and durability of the lamps are mostly overlooked in this book. Matson seems to favor mantel lighting over other types of lights. He highlights and even seems to promote the expensive and delicate Aladdin lamps with their round wicks, fragile mantels, and tall fragile chimneys. He is also a big proponent of Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) lighting.

He seems to brush over the ubiquitous, simple, durable, and reliable kerosene wick lantern. A good quality, portable kerosene lantern (i.e. a cold-blast, hurricane lantern) may not be as bright as a mantel light; however, they are much less expensive and less fragile. Also, a kerosene lamp/lantern can be used indoors without too much concern for carbon monoxide which is something that you do have to be concerned about with LPG and gasoline/Coleman lanterns. Matson does touch on that issue a little, however. What he doesn't discuss is the difference between dead flame, hot-blast, and cold-blast kerosene lanterns. In fact, he really doesn't spend more than a couple of pages discussing kerosene "hurricane lanterns" at all. Kerosene lanterns have been relied upon for dependable, portable emergency lighting for decades. I found Matson's coverage of kerosene lanterns very lacking.

Another detail he seems to overlook is that while LPG lighting is generally safe and the gas is not the most expensive fuel, portable LPG lamps are not the most eco-friendly. In fact, he doesn't really get into the portable LPG lanterns in this book; another fact that points to the age of much of the writing. Portable LPG lights (e.g. the Coleman lanterns that run off of the green LPG tanks) require you to carry the heavy, steel bottles with you and to find an appropriate place to dispose of the empty cylinders--not "eco-friendly". Matson doesn't really address this aspect of LPG lighting. Instead, he seems to focus more on LPG as a permanent lighting method inside of a dwelling. He discusses the LPG lamps that you might attach to the wall (like a sconce) inside of a cabin.

So Matson's focus in this book seems to be on "living off grid" and not paying The Man for electricity rather than focusing on emergency preparedness and/or camping. Little is mentioned about emergency preparedness (mostly confined to the beginning of the book) and nearly nothing about camping concerns.

Still, this book is a great introduction to non-electric lighting for the novice and because of that, it will serve to provide a solid understanding of the basics for someone who has an eye toward emergency preparedness...or living "off grid". He does cover the Coleman white gas/gasoline lanterns and kerosene lanterns enough to introduce you to them for your consideration if you are looking for camp lighting.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just an overview 24 Oct 2012
By Polybun - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Not nearly enough information. The book is a brief overview at best.

The section on candle light talks only briefly about beeswax candles, and mentions tallow candles only in passing. Nothing is said of scounces or other candle accesories which makes a candle a useable source of light. What about parafin? What about soy? Useless.

Kerosene lanterns are mentioned, but again, it seems only in passing. What about cold blast vs. hot blast? What about candle lanterns? No mention is made of them at all.

The section on kerosene lamps only covers flat wick lamps and the Aladdin. No mention of kosmos or other round burner lamps is made at all.

The book just isn't that good, and you could learn more on wikipedia in a day than you could reading this book, which, somehow manages to take more time. It doesn't even have any instructions on wick trimming. The book spends more time talking about dragging a heavy fireview stove home than it does talking about what features to look for. Catalytics, what are those? You won't know if this books is your only source of information.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complete and comprehensive guide 8 Feb 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
A backup plan or for style, having non-electric lighting available is a good idea. "The Book of Non-Electric Lighting: The Classic Guide to Safe Use of Candles, Fuel Lamps, Lanterns, Gaslights, & Fire-View Stoves" is a guide to safely using non-electric lighting for light, style, or energy conservation. Firelight can add a certain romantic and historic air to one's life, and "The Book of Non-Electric Lighting" is a complete and comprehensive guide to using it effectively.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like an owner's manual for non-electric lighting. 23 April 2012
By Mr. Yikes - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are the type with a basic interest in old-fashioned lighting, then this is a good book. It's not for collectors of whatever style of lighting, and it's not a scholarly rundown of different makes, models and their histories. It talks more about the basic history, theories of operation, advantages and disadvantages and basic operating techniques with various types of non-electric lighting. It's a good basic primer for somebody who is looking for a non-electric light source for a cabin, living off the grid, historical re-creating, disaster preparation, or somebody who just happens to have an antique light. The person would have to be fairly new to non-electric lighting to benefit much. For me, I see that the author really seems to love Alladin-style wick and mantle lights. They are quite cool, but there is not enough information in the pressure lantern section to be of much use. Regarding pressure lanterns, besides about a page of basic Coleman history, it covers the safety and lighting information. Most of this information is printed on newer lanterns themselves, or else came in the little folded manual. This section also curiously covers Hurricaine-style wick lanterns, which is essentially redundant from the wick lamp section. It ignores kerosene pressure lanterns, both Coleman and Petromax-style, as well as antique match generating lanterns like the Coleman Quicklite, which are still around (I have four working examples in my garage). I understand skipping torch-lighting lanterns from a century ago, but there are enough kerosene pressure lanterns and Coleman Quicklites around to merit a few paragraphs at least. Not covering kerosene pressure lanterns is, I believe, a serious flaw for many people who would be interested in this book, since these lights are useful companions to kerosene heaters in off-the-grid situations. Personally, the book was a very short and easy read and a mild disappointment, but only because I already knew 90% of what is in it, and wanted to know more about what was notably absent. I actually loved the Aladdin lamp section, since I know little about these little wonders. If you come at it as a real novice, who has no idea how to light your cabin, it will provide a lot of good information. It's like an owner's manual for the non-electric light you found at the antique store or inherited from your grandpa. Just don't expect it to help you get your Petromax or Coleman Air-O-Lantern started.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Basic Introduction to Non-Electric Lighting 6 Aug 2011
By Fred E. Elum - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is well written for the subject matter. It is a good primer to help you understand the basics of fire lighting your home. It is good to read if you plan to invest a substantial sum of money in fire light for your home.

If anything it could use more detail on the required maintenance of the different fire light methods. The information on lights and stoves is a little dated, but at this point nothing has changed enough to prevent the book from helping you pick the right fire(s) to light your world.
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