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The ZAIS Oil Wick Miners' Lamp
1876





These lamps were approximately 3"x 3 3/4"
They attached to the miners hats to light their way


"Windows to the Past" 
written by Betty VanNewkirk


"Frederick Zais of Frostburg is widely recognized as the maker of many such lamps, which have now become collectors' items.  He did not invent the lamps - they were already being made in Germany when he learned the tinsmith's trade.  He was not the only man who made such lamps after he came to America, but lamps bearing his name are particularly sought by collectors, and those of one special design, no matter where or by whom they were produced, were called "Frostburg pattern."
     Mr. Zais came to Frostburg when he was 22 years old, in 1843, and set himself up as a tinsmith.  In those days skillets were made of iron, but kettles and pans intended to hold water were made of steel or copper, coated with tin to prevent rusting.  Tinsmiths also make roofing-sheets, fittings for stoves and hot-air furnaces, and the lunch-buckets which workmen, including miners, carried with them.  There was enough demand for their services that there were always two or three tinsmiths in business in Frostburg.
     At one time Mr. Zais had a shop next to the Lutheran  church, but when the fire of September, 1874, ravaged the town and engulfed both the church and the parsonage next to it, the firemen summoned from Cumberland made a fire-break by tearing down both the Zais shop and a frame dwelling behind it, facing Mechanic Street.  The shop was rebuilt by Mr. Clary, who owned the property, but it was let to someone else, and Zais opened a shop in the second house above High Street on the south side of Main.
    After Fred Zais's death in 1903, two of his sons continued to operate the tin shop and to live in the dwelling behind and above those premises.  As time went on, the small oil lamps they made were supplanted by carbide, and, more recently, by electric light."

(Courtesy of Phyllis Rosley)
Posted December 14, 2013







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