Davy Safety Lamp Can

This metal can is a companion piece for a Davy safety lamp, such as the one seen in object AG*MHI-MN-8131. The can slid over the wire gauze portion of a Davy lamp and served to protect the light from being extinguished by drafts in the mine. The Davy-in-a-can was developed soon after the original Davy lamp debuted in 1815, and can be seen as an intermediate step towards the Clanny-style safety lamp, which surrounded the flame in glass to prevent it from being extinguished, which increased the available light and improved the lamp’s safety.
Electric cap lamp inventor Grant Wheat’s personal collection of mining lamps was donated to the museum in 1962. Many of these objects were depicted in his “Story of Underground Lighting” published in the “Proceedings of the Illinois Mining Institute” in 1945. This Davy lamp can was his 25th example of the chronological development of underground lighting, of which he wrote, “During the years which followed many improvements were made in safety lamps, the first of which was probably the Davy in a can."
Currently not on view
Object Name
can, lamp, Davy mining
mining lamp can
overall: 6 3/8 in x 4 5/8 in; 16.256 cm x 11.684 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Industry & Manufacturing
Mining Lamps
Grant Wheat Collection
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mining
Grant Wheat Collection
Mining Lamps
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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