e) that isn't shown in the list, please send it to me or post it here on OG so I can add it to the list! I'm 100% certain that this is by no means all the styles and colors made; every time I get three or four new photos, I add them to the list.Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have lamps to add!Quick FAQ:What are these? Where and when were they made?--"Boilers" were made in the early 1970s in France. They're made mostly or, in many cases, entirely out of hand-blown glass, many carrying stickers reading "fait main" (hand made). A very few sit in metal bases. The silvery cylinders on many of them are bands of adhesive foil. Boilers in general present a liquid motion effect(s) that are different from lava lamps.What do they do?--I've assigned them categories. Boilers - the basic variety - contain a volatile liquid with a low evaporation point, probably ethyl alcohol or methylene chloride. A light bulb illuminates and provides heat. As the liquid in the base becomes warm, vapor is produced, and the pressure of the growing vapor cloud forces the liquid up a glass pipe, usually formed into a decorative shape. When the liquid level in the base gets low enough, vapor flows up the pipe in bubbles, making the liquid in the upper globe appear to boil violently. The liquid flows back to the base and the process repeats. Some models fill up from the bottom, while others start mostly full.Bubblers do exactly that: bubble. They warm up until vapor forms in the top, and eventually the pressure causes vapor to suffuse into the liquid. Bubbles of vapor collect near the heat source and rise to the top. Some, but not all, have a heap of glass beads in the bottom, which give the bubbles something to cling to as they form.Fountains don't just fill, boil, empty and repeat. They bubble up more frequently, and the riser pipe ends in a set of jets or nozzles which squirt fountains of liquid into an upper pool. Small holes around the riser pipe let liquid from the pool flow back into the base. A few rare fountains have a double arrangement, where every few sprays in a lower vessel build up pressure to operate a second fountain in an upper vessel. A return pipe connects back to the base.Glitterboilers simply encase a basic boiler or bubbler in an outer glass envelope that functions as a glitter lamp.Lavaboilers function, basically, as a bubbler, however there are two liquids: clear above, and a thick, colored oil below. The vapor bubbles form in the oil and then rise, coated in a thin layer of oil. When they reach the top, the bubble pops and the droplets of oil float back down. Most of these hide this transformation with a foil band, so the viewer only sees large, clear bubbles zooming upward as little colored drops float down. These sometimes collide, and some lavaboilers add indentations in the glass tube to add to the action. Another category of lavaboiler adds beads, which break up the rising bubbles and cause sprays of oil to rise, something like a very alien lava lamp.Lava geysers function, basically, as a lavaboiler, but concentrate the rising vapor with a nozzle or jet, forcing squirts of oil into the liquid.Handboilers, which were also made later in Taiwan and sold as "love meters", are a basic boiler without a light. Your hand is the heat source. Some have multiple chambers. A few stand on glass pedestals.I've also included two liquid hourglasses, made in France in the 1970s, probably by people who made boilers.Where do you see these?--eBay France, mostly. Look for "lampe bulles" (bubbles lamp) or "lampe ebullition" (boiling lamp).Do you own all of these?--No. I wish I owned more of them, they're uncommon in France but I've only ever seen one reach the US through a shop. I own no. 1, far top left of the boiler list. It is approximately 30" tall. I found it in a local antique shop, the owners of which got it from an estate in the UK of a man who sold laboratory glassware. It had been in his office.How were the list's illustrations done? How complete is the list?I drew the list in Windows Paint. I started in 2005 with six boilers, then up to 9, and the first "list" was in 2006 with 25 items. This first list is in my Photos. The current list has 132 items, including color variants, as well as a number of replicas of stickers found on boilers and notes on which ones had them, if known. I add boilers as I spot them, so if there's one I've missed, send me the photo and I'll draw it in!Feel free to ask questions about these; I'll answer them if I can. I'm no expert, but I can give it the ol' college try.…
liquid forces it up the central pipe. When it gets low enough, vapor enters and creates bubbles. Some models bubble constantly, some intermittently, and some "cycle" by slowly filling up, bubbling, draining again and repeat. The columns have been formed into all manner of coils, zig-zags, bubbles, stretched and tapered tubes and even donuts to add to the visual effect.
What have been termed "bubblers" don't have the pipe extending into the lower chamber. Instead, when the liquid gets warm enough around the chamber containing the light bulb, bubbles of vapor form, then rise to the top. Some bubblers have gravel or glass beads around the bulb chamber to aid in bubble production. Some are cylindrical, while others have interesting blown shapes.
"Lava bubblers" add a thick, colored oil in the bottom, under the thinner liquid above. Vapor bubbles carry a coating of oil, which floats back down when the bubbles hit the top. Most of these are cylindrical in basic shape; some also have dents in the glass to bounce the rising bubbles around, while others have beads sitting in the oil, which both aid in bubble production and break up the bubbles.
"Fountains" use the rising vapor, which pushes liquid up the central pipe, for a fountain effect; the pipe extends into the upper chamber and has a 'sprinkler' on top, out of which liquid squirts. In some of these, holes near the bottom allow liquid to rejoin the pool in the bottom. In others where the upper and lower sections are separated by a decorative tube or pipe, there must be a return pipe from the upper part leading back to the base, such as with the deer fountain in the video. Another design uses pressure building up in the fountain chamber to send liquid up to a second fountain, and then back to the base via return pipe.
Other designs include "glitter boilers," which encase a boiler inside a glitter lamp, and "lava fountains," which operate the same as a fountain but add colored oil, which squirts up into the clear liquid. Some of these companies also made ordinary glitter lamps. There were some hand-held boilers made, too, in which the warmth of your hand creates the effect. The features shared by all boilers is that the liquid-filled chamber is literally sealed at the top. Many lamps were made entirely of glass including the pedestal, all blown into one piece, with a light socket slipped inside and in some cases foil bands or frosting inside the bulb chamber to conceal the bulb. A few sat in metal or other bases with an integrated socket, like a lava lamp, but again, their glass portions were completely sealed.
Lava lamps were known and produced in France in the 1970s, but these lamps developed, too. It seems a few were made in the UK and possibly elsewhere in Europe, but most of the production seems to have been French. Makers' names and company names have turned up, but nothing is known about them save that certain companies produced certain things; for example, "S. Vera" of Cleremont-Ferrand produced mostly ornate fountains, "F. Vaudan" of Paris produced mostly lava-bubblers and hand boilers, and "Creations M.U.C." of Paris produced mostly glitter-boilers and glitter lamps. Scientific/laboratory style glassworking techniques were used. Nobody seems to know when these started or how, when they stopped or why, or any other details. We do know, however, that they were sold in stores in the UK in the 70s.
Some lamps sold under the "Geyser Lamp" name were made that (poorly) replicated glitter boilers. These were around for a short time several years ago, and are quite scarce now as they were very fragile. No other such lamps are known to be produced now, anywhere. I'm also unclear on what is inside them, liquid-wise-- the hand-held versions made in China in the 80s and 90s contained ethyl alcohol or methylene chloride.
I illustrated the first six boilers I ever saw in 2000. I began adding new designs I saw, and eventually created a sort of visual guide to boiler designs. A variance in color or a slight change in shape is enough to cause a model to be added to the list. I've also illustrated several manufacturers' stickers and those reading "fait main" (hand made). I have posted several versions, and here's the current one, posted just now and updated with, among others, the blue deer fountain pictured-- while some, like the deer fountains, are very similar, the variances are distinct, and I've made every effort to put them down with all the detail of the real ones.
boiler". Stevemo, do you see your friend's lamp on my list?
Boilers, the basic variety, slowly fill bottom to top, "boil" violently, drain, then repeat - mine takes around 20 minutes to fill. A few types, such as nos. 12, 13 and 14, fill up and then bubble constantly.
Glitterboilers encase one of these types, usually the latter, inside a glitter lamp.
Lavaboilers throw up explosions of oil-covered air bubbles, which pop at the top, the oil coating reforming into falling globules. As the top is hidden by a foil ring, the viewer sees only big clear bubbles going up, and small colored ones coming down. The non-bead types often have indents in the glass to cause the bubbles to bounce around. The beads in other types are there to break up the bubbles to make them smaller and more numerous, so they collide constantly with the falling globules.
Fountainboilers use the rising vapors to push liquid up a pipe into a nozzle, spraying it out, and the lava geyser type has colored oil forced up in spurts into clear liquid.
The bubblers work on the same principle as a bubble-tube Christmas light: bubbles form in the "bumpers" (here, either glass beads or gravel) and then float constantly to the top.
The handboilers are operrated by picking them up and holding them.
I believe they were made in the early to mid 1970s in France, and I know at least two makers' names: F. Vaudan in Paris, and S. Vera in Cleremont-Ferrand. The glassblowing is first-rate, by someone who knows serious scientific glassblowing techniques, and they may have used a glass lathe. I believe the standard models, fountainboilers and bubblers, and inner chambers on glitterboilers contain Methylene Chloride, Freon-11 or similar. I'm not sure what's the oil or the clear liquid in the lavaboilers. The glitterboilers' glitter part probably contains a solvent like perc (perchloroethylene, a chlorinated solvent) and I'd hate to see what results when one gets broken and both solvents mix!…
l. The heat from the electric light warms the liquid, causing it to evaporate. Vapor collecting in the space above the liquid in the reservoir forces the liquid up the central tube, until it forms a pool in the upper globe. Some boilers begin full or nearly full, and the liquid level rises only enough to start the "boiling". When the liquid level in the reservoir drops below the lower end of the fill tube, vapor rushes up the pipe, with the bubbles bounced around in interesting ways by the variously shaped center sections, before reaching the top where they percolate through the pool, giving the appearance of violent boiling. The liquid then swiftly empties to the normal low point, and the process begins again.
Fountainboilers form vapor bubbles in the reservoir, which rise up the central tube, forcing liquid up and out of the jet(s) into the upper pool. Holes around the edge of the tube allow liquid from the pool to return to the reservoir, but this area is conical so that rising bubbles always go up the central tube. One rare form of fountain has a second, higher fountain which operates intermittently when liquid and vapor build up in the lower fountain, and it has a long drain pipe leading back to the reservoir.
Lavaboilers have a clear liquid and a colored oil. Vapor bubbles form in the oil, and rise swiftly to the top, surrounded by an invisible film of oil. Reaching the top, they pop and the oil reforms into little globules which float back down and are bounced about by the rising bubbles. Most but not all of these share two traits: a ring of foil at the top which hides the liquid level (and the conversion from clear bubble to colored globule) and various sorts of indentations in the glass which serve to bounce the bubbles around. A few lack one, the other, or both. Lavaboilers with beads do not have indentations but, rather, have a layer of glass beads in the oil which break up the rising bubbles, making for smaller bubbles in larger numbers.
Glitterboilers put a boiler inside a glitter lamp, wherein mylar glitter floats around on the convection currents formed in the liquid. Some of these have normal fill-boil-drain boilers, while others simply percolate continuously.
Lava fountains use clear liquid and colored oil like a lavaboiler, but use the vapor bubble principle of a fountain to push geysers of oil upward or force tiny steams of oil bubbles out of little jets into the clear liquid.
Bubblers operate on the principle of a Christmas or jukebox bubble tube: vapor bubbles form and rise to the top. These have lots and lots of bubbles due to the use of "bumpers" (usually beads, in one lamp porous lava gravel) which give lots of surface area on which the bubbles form.
Handboilers are just that: operated by holding them in your hand. The love meter has a graduated scale with things like "boring", "exciting", "on fire", "passionate" etc. in French. One model can raise the liquid in three successive stages if one's hand is placed around each bulb in succession. Many of these were made in Taiwan, Japan etc. but here are only French models.
I include French liquid hourglasses because they were likely created by artists who also made boilers. One must be upended to fill, while the other has twin hourglasses attached at the center and metal end caps and can simply be flipped upside-down.
New copies of this list will be uploaded every so often as more lamps are added. Note that some lamps hide the bulb with a wrap of silver foil, some use a frosted surface inside the bulb compartment, while a few use both and a few others have neither. Those with metal bases can be lifted out of or off the base to change the bulb, while entirely-glass ones are lifted off the table and the socket slid out of the open bottom.…