Local News

November 13, 2013

Nelson Pioneer Farm artifact

Do you know what this is?


This past week's artifact from the Nelson Pioneer Farm is a vaporizer and lamp.

Virginia Dalbey took a guess at this past week's artifact. In a letter to the Herald, she wrote, “The medicinal lamp pictured in the shopper was used in our home. Ointment was placed in the upper tray. The heat from the lamp warmed the ointment and was used for healthful breathing after inhaling it. I still have one in my home.”

Judy Grade also made a guess as to the identity of this past week's artifact. In an e-mail to the Herald, she wrote, “I've never seen one of these except in a book a long time ago. Luckily, my friend still had the book. It's an  Antique Vapo-Cresolene Vaporizer, possibly made in New York in the late 1800s. It has a Cast iron holder that supports a kerosene lamp with milk glass shade and aluminum tray ontop for warming the contents that vaporize for the sick.”

Nelson Pioneer Farm curator Kelly Halbert has done some research on the artifact: “Vapo-Cresolene Vaporizor and lamp (1881-1950)

The Vapo-Cresolene vaporizer was designed to improve breathing in patients suffering from a wide variety of breathing disorders and illnesses. Especially popular at the turn of the 19th century, this little spirit lamp burned kerosene to heat a small dish filled with the Cresonlene chemical.

The inhalant was supposed to cure “Whooping Cough, Spasmodic Croup, Nasal Catarrh, Colds, Bronchitis, Coughs, Sore Throat, Broncho [sic] Pneumonia, The Paroxysms of asthma and Hay Fever, The bronchial Complications of Scarlet Fever and Measles, and as an aid in the treatment of Diphtheria and certain Inflammatory Throat Diseases.” By heating the Cresolene , a “bedroom of ordinary size” became a vaporizing chamber to help the patient recover. This product was also recommended by its manufacturers to treat distemper, pneumonia and roup in dogs, horses and chickens.

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