Edward Miller & Company, U.S.A. - A brief History
Edward Miller commenced business in Meriden, Connecticut in the 1840's making and selling camphene and burning fluid burners. By the 1860's, Edward Miller had become an effective manufacturer and marketer in the kerosene lamp business.
In 1845 Edward Miller took over the business of Horatio N. Howard which was then making screws, candle holders, candle stick springs, as well as lamps that burned whale oil and a variety of burning fluids. He faced a number of initial obstacles: poor facilities, lack of raw materials and primitive manufacturing methods. Miller overcame these challenges and eventually moved into better quarters, and introduced steam power into the plant which increased production. Disaster struck in 1857 when fire destroyed the shop, but it was quickly rebuilt and business continued to expand and prosper.
When oil was discovered in 1859, kerosene became a safe and affordable lamp fuel. Miller was quick to seize the initiative seeing the need for burners for the new fuel. In 1866, Miller formed a joint stock company and reorganized under the name of Edward Miller & Co (E M & Co). The manufacturing capacity was immediately increased and in 1868, Miller constructed a brass rolling mill to keep up with his company's demand for brass and to ensure a more consistent quality of product than he could count on from his suppliers. It became a major division of the corporation.
Starting around 1884 through 1892, Edward Miller & Company manufactured the "ROCHESTER" line of lamps for The Rochester Lamp Company which explains their close similarity with his own ‘Miller’ lamps. Edward Miller produced, according to the catalogue, 2000 designs of kerosene lamps, and in every manner – table lamps, hanging store lamps, hanging library lamps, hall lamps, bracket lamps, night lamps, and more. After 1892 Miller lost the contract to manufacture the lamps for The Rochester Lamp Company, whose lamps were then branded "New Rochester" to distinguish them from the former.
Edward Miller then used his knowledge and experience and went into direct competition with the Rochester lamp. Recognising the benefits of the central draught lamp, Miller developed the range of central draught lamps that today are known simply by his name and developed the brand in so many styles that he accommodated all customers both in taste and price.
Edward Miller's first lamp was branded 'The Juno Lamp' and has a wick raiser that closely resembles that of the Rochester. Miller first posted patents for his own wick raising devise in June 1892 which he branded 'The Miller Lamp' and constantly improved on the design of both the wick raising device and burner. It seems at the same time he modified his earlier Juno lamp, simplifying the raiser and enabling a universal wick carriage. In 1895 he further improved 'The Juno Lamp' by incorporating a guide wheel. This patent is by far the most common and was marketed under many brands including 'The Empress Lamp', 'The Mill Lamp', 'The Non Explosive Lamp', and 'The Gaskill Lamp' to name a few. This patent was further refined around 1898 with 'The New Juno Lamp’. In 1900 Miller bought the brand name of 'Meteor' from the meriden Brass Company, which had ceased trading and using his 1892 patent re-modeled 'The Meteor Lamp' - the first and only time his 1892 patent was branded differently to 'Miller'. In 1902 he created 'The New Vestal Lamp', where he finally was able to control the circular wick with a wick winder of similar form to that of flat wick burners. One last change was made to the burner and wick raising method around 1916 - 1920, but not the work of Edward himself as he died in 1909 aged of 82; the company however continued to produce its wares to his high standards and still exists today, although no longer has any resemblance, either in management or production to that of the company that produced kerosene oil lamps.
Never resting on his laurels Edward Miller was always improving his products. He strove for perfection and insisted upon the highest quality for all his products. As the times changed, so did types of illumination. As gas became a viable fuel source for cooking, heating and illumination, the company entered into the manufacture of gas lighting fixtures and stoves. As the age of electricity beckoned, Miller followed the trend, or more appropriately, blazed new trails. He improved upon Edison's carbon filament lamp by designing a tungsten filament lamp.
The Miller Company pioneered mercury vapour and fluorescent lighting systems in the late 1930's as well.1
Miller, at the height of production during the ‘golden age’ of kerosene lighting (1890 – 1900) manufactured for both his own range, and wholesale, selling his brass components to other companies, such as glass manufacturer’s or even production companies who would outsource all of their manufacturing. Miller produced the full range of lamp items, single wick burners, duplex burners, collars etc, the list is endless. Today many of these lamps are mis-identified as ‘Miller’ lamps. Just because a lamp has a ‘Miller’ burner, or ‘Miller’ collar does NOT make it a ‘Miller’ lamp. Only those lamps which bare his brands or name on the fount of the lamp are true ‘Miller’ lamps.
Footnotes. 1. http://www.thelampworks.com/lw_companies_miller.htm