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The crooked cross oil lamp






Which is fake?

click this link after you have reached a decision





By David K

David's page on the 'Crooked Cross' lamps is here

This is really worth reading!





All of these on eBay 10th September 05.

All very cheap.


See the "crooked cross" lamp at bottom right?

Now you will never be fooled by one!





fred007 aks

9th November 2005


Taken from the emails we exchanged recently


I bought this lamp on eBay for $10

Then I saw another version of it on a dealers website. As far as I am concerned the lamps are identical even down to the fake soil around the features.


My lamp $10 AUD

His lamp $375 USD


I sent an email asking and he wrote:


It is hard to judge anything from images only, but your lamp does have the look of modern replica.

Lamps can be tricky and I myself like to be double-checked by dealers that specialize in these.  I never buy them from unknown source because they are many fakes out there.  I buy only from few sources even if I have to pay more for their expertise to make sure they are original.

I consider myself an expert in coins, but an informed expert in oil lamps. I just trust my experts to help me with them.


Then he has been rather let  down by his expert.


I would value your opinion on this as well. Is this a lack of education from people with large antiquities sites, is it ignorance or intentional?


With that seller, being principally a coin dealer him, I think it's because the source who has suplied him has let him down. That said, I'm surprised anyone even modestly familiar with antiquities would think these real.


As far as I am concerned my lamp is so obviously a replica it isn't funny, but when you see one the same selling for such a huge amount that looks identical right down to the clay colour and the soil deposition...well!



Here are the images of others on sale.

They are all forgeries.

Usually called the  Vulcan Type,  Made in Egypt, circa 1870 until now -  and also in Greece.




A real expert to the rescue

I was waiting for more info before placing all this on the website.


from qmor_123

19th November 2005


  • This style of lamp has been doing the rounds for years and crops up now and then (I've seen a few on eBay).
  • They seem to have been made in Egypt before World War II and there is another series of the same design produced in Greece during the 1980s.
  • There are quite a few in various museums but Bailey is certain none is ancient. See BMC III, Q3462.
  • I seem to remember having seen one described as ancient somewhere in a German museum publication but can't remember where. However, I personally agree with Bailey; I do not feel that any of these lamps are genuinely ancient.
  • The shown example for sale is even worse than others I've seen and most certainly bears all the hallmarks of a classic fake: the plaster deposits, the false slip/glaze, the ridiculously tiny wick-hole, etc. Plus the details of the face are 'improbable' in Roman art. (There are in fact Roman lamp fillers found in the Rhineland with a slightly similar face style, though the face is substantially different in detail from these fake lamps). 



I will email him.

I do believe that the piece will be withdrawn.


November 29th.

It has been withdrawn from sale.



And more !


Here are three more examples culled from the internet in the past.

  • It is a common characteristic of this series that very often the lamp was not even pierced properly for the apertures.
  • Neither of the plain clay examples attached has the nozzle pierced properly and one does not have the filling-hole pierced.
  • The green glazed example is even sillier; neither the nozzle nor the filling-hole is pierced at all - not much use as a lamp!


And yet more!!!


And there's more ...


  • Here are two more plain clay examples (note that neither has the filling-hole pierced and only one has a half-hearted attempt to pierce the nozzle).
  • Also attached is a mould which was recently offered for sale. It has the appearance of being artificially aged and is no more convincing as an ancient product than the lamps.


Thanks very much.

That's pretty comprehensive.


25th February 2006


The fake lamp which was withdrawn  from sale last year after I alerted the dealer, now appears on eBay.

Though with one very important change; it's advertised as a fake.


19th Century British Museum Copy of a Roman Oil Lamp.Size 4 3/4 inches long. (12 cm long). very unusual item. nicely made what suposed to be an Egypto Roman red clay headed oil lamp



On the left, the lamp as shown before. On the right, as now on eBay shown correctly as a fake.


From the section on fakes and reproductions in:


D. M. Bailey, A Catalogue of the Lamps in the British Museum Vol 3 Roman Provincial Lamps (London, British Museum, 1988)





Here is another type of this general sort of  fake you will see from time to time.

Another type


These continue to appear on the market , often as 'Roman'

But more recently there has been an interesting example of how false information about ancient artefacts can spread on eBay. These have been offered by different sellers as 'Pre-Columbian' oil lamps!

This strange fake has even fooled some museums!

This fake is mentioned in

D. M. Bailey, A Catalogue of the Lamps in the British Museum Vol 3 Roman Provincial Lamps (London, British Museum, 1988)

Q3467 and 3468


Academics and museums are still  sometimes fooled by this type.

See here.



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