MY Lot of the Week last time was the two Napoleonic swords which were found in a house in Teesdale.

The estimate was £300-£500, but they sold in the first post-lockdown sale for £1,700 - a hard act to follow!

So this week’s lot is more modest but nevertheless very interesting: an original enamel sign promoting Royal Standard BP Lamp Oil.

Oil lamps have been around for hundreds of years, even thousands if you go back to the Greek-Roman era. The first lamps used animal fat and olive oil for their flame and provided the only light at the dead of night save for the moon and stars.

A new type of oil lamp was invented by French chemist Ami Argand in 1780 and this was the beginning of the use of a wick with a glass chimney to protect the flame. It is said that the ‘new’ oil lamp could provide as much light as ten candles.

We must have had one or more oil lamps in every auction we have held which just shows how many must have been made in the last 250 years. In Victorian times, every home would have had several lamps and a good supply of lamp oil to keep them going.

Our sign was made by Bruton of Palmers Green, London, who will have made signs for all businesses from Lyons Tea to White May and Royal Standard BP Lamp Oil to motoring signs for the roads. The design is striking, likening the power of BP’s Lamp Oil to sunshine with the quarter yellow sun and light beaming down.

This sign is not a rarity as there will have been hundreds or even thousands made to be placed outside shops and garages in every town in the country.

Condition is pretty good bearing in mind it has lived its life outside year after year and it carries a ‘come and buy me’ estimate of £100-£200 in the sale, which starts at 10am on Tuesday.

Peter Robinson

Thomas Watson Auctioneers, Darlington.