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Peculiarities #5

July 28, 2017
Internet Picture
Internet Picture

This strange device was on our living room mantel during my childhood, and I’ve now owned it for over fifty years. It looks like a small oil lamp, but it served a different purpose. It’s an antique vaporizer. Herbs and medicated oils were placed in the bowl at the top; when the wick was lit it warmed the liquid and made breathing easier.


My mother spotted it at my grandmother’s house and expressed an interest in it, and my grandmother gave it to her since she hadn’t experienced asthma attacks in years. She had my dad clean and paint it a few times, which probably destroyed any value it might have had. Back then Antique Road Show hadn’t yet premiered, so people weren’t cautioned against over cleaning or removing original finishes on antiques.




Grandma's Vaporizer


My grandmother suffered from asthma around the time my mother married, but this device didn’t originate with her. It belonged to her mother-in-law, who also suffered from asthma. It stands only eight inches tall but when I was a kid and tried to paint this on a ridiculously large canvas it ended up looking like a heated birdbath for gigantic birds. It wasn’t a painting I ended up keeping.




Note: Bloggers are very generous with their photographs and sometimes I’ll save one or two for a closer look. Someone posted this photo from a music festival and I’d like to use it as a source for a painting, but I don’t want to do without permission. If you took this photo, please let me know if it’s okay to use. Thanks.





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Well as long as it was just for asthma and not any illegal mind-altering substances.
By: PT Dilloway on July 28, 2017
Antique vaporizer eh? I think I prefer my one from Walgreens.
By: Michael Offutt on July 28, 2017
Hi there- you are free to use my photo of Charlie Parr at the Black Butte Center for Railroad concert that took place July 17, 2017....I am honored!
By: Kathe W. on July 28, 2017
Valuable or not, it's a nice sentimental piece!
By: messymimi on July 28, 2017
I have had artists ask to use my photos on my other photography site and it is flattering always. I find it so interesting that this item did not lend itself to a larger format.
By: tabor on July 28, 2017
Very cool. Several offered on ebay, $70 - $130. I'd definitely keep it.
By: cranky on July 28, 2017
Does it still get the job done? Mrs. Shife would like something like that in the house but probably after the kiddos and the Frizz are a little older to keep it from meeting its demise. Good stuff, Stephen.
By: Mr. Shife on July 28, 2017
Who knew they have been around so long? I can see your interest in that photo. It begs for the artist's touch.
By: Arkansas Patti on July 28, 2017
Ooh - that's a really cool artifact. I like interesting stuff like that.
By: The Bug on July 28, 2017
That's the first such vaporizer I've seen. Fascinating device. And I understand your desire to use the photo for a painting. That is marvelous shot with exquisite lighting and composition. If you paint it, please post it for us.
By: Tom Cochrun on July 28, 2017
Oddities make things interesting. We have many questions about things that are different.
By: Red on July 28, 2017
That vaporizer is cool. I've never seen one. I'll have to ask Hick if he's ever seen one at the auction. He might think it's something else.
By: Val on July 28, 2017
That is a cool piece that I never knew existed and I think would actually work when I think about the times I was over the sink with. Towel over my head breathing in Vicks that went into hot water.
By: Birgit on July 28, 2017
I was going to hazard a guess it was a fancy antique coffee maker.
By: Daniel LaFrance on July 28, 2017
Interesting vaporizer. And we think only modern people have all the conveniences! That is a great picture; I can see why you would want to paint it.
By: jenny_o on July 28, 2017
I thought it was a bong. :D It could still have value even if it's been painted I would think. It's highly unusual.
By: LL Cool Joe on July 29, 2017
oil lamps and other old kitchen and farm implements are quite common out here in the country but I've never seen an old vaporizer.
By: Ellen Abbott on July 29, 2017
That's going to be a beautiful painting!!
By: fishducky on July 29, 2017
That is a great picture, and I'm sure it will inspire a great piece of artwork. Nice of the photographer to grant you permission to use it.
By: Chris on July 29, 2017
Wow. This is wonderful. I've never seen an old vaporizer like that. I had an uncle who made a living shopping estate sales. He grew wealthy, but never appreciated the art of restoration. If something needed repair, unless it was worth thousands of dollars, he did it himself... and always badly. I usually received those items, which would have been better had he never "repaired" them. He had a thing for repairing brass and bronze pieces with a can of spray paint!
By: Mitchell is Moving on July 30, 2017
Well that's interesting! I use a diffuser for essential oils, and I thought that was new-fangled You and Ms. C have a wonderful and blessed day!.
By: Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines on July 30, 2017
Cheech and Chong will be giving you a call.
By: Al Penwasser on July 30, 2017
Interesting vaporizer! Have you ever used it? And will you keep it? I can see how downsizing and decluttering becomes a much more difficult task when you own such old things with interesting stories!
By: Pixel Peeper on July 30, 2017
I like these types of antiques, l have never really thought of placing a value on them I just appreciate where they came from, nice one Stephen.
By: Jimmy on July 31, 2017

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