Miner’s Cap and Carbide Lamp

Description (Brief)
This miner’s hat is made of canvas, with a leather brim and metal lamp bracket attached to the front of the cap. A miner’s carbide lamp is mounted onto the bracket. This type of hat and lamp would have been used together from around 1900 until the 1930s. Carbide lamps consisted of two chambers, an upper chamber holding water and a lower chamber holding calcium carbide. Acetylene gas is produced when water from the lamp's upper level encounters the calcium carbide stored in the base via a dripping mechanism. The gas is funneled to the burner, where it is lit by a match or a built-in striker. Miner safety became a big issue during the early 20th century, when mining accidents hit an all-time high. Congress established the U.S. Bureau of Mines in 1910 to improve miner safety, and miner’s hats began to turn to helmets, and electric lamps replaced the open flame of carbide and oil-wick lamps.
Currently not on view
Object Name
lamp, cap, carbide, mining
overall: 4 in x 12 in; 10.16 cm x 30.48 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Natural Resources
Industry & Manufacturing
Mining Helmets
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mining
Mining Helmets
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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