Pressure Lamps International

Falk Stadelmann and Veritas Lamps

©AWMoore 2004

 

Before continuing on this page, please try to help with an appeal by Brian Falk for information about and copies of two documents published by Falks that might contain important company history. They are '50 years of progress'. dated 1930/31 and a similar document published at the time of the Festival of Britain in 1951, entitled '70 years of progress'.
If you can help in any way please contact me by e-mail through the contacts page. Thanks, Alan


Falk Stadelmann & Company Ltd is one of the best known names in the history of lighting in the UK and Europe. Along with many of the world's lighting pioneers, Falk Stadelmann came into being as a result of the combination of innovative engineering experience and a sound commercial understanding of the the growing industrial and social demand for light. The Falk Stadelmann story is really the story of three family names; Stadelmann, Thurnauer and Falk.

Johan Gottl. Stadelmann was registered as a mantle maker in Nurnburg, Germany in 1862, when he employed two other workers. This was an exciting time in the history of incandescent lighting, because the chemical properties of Thorium were not yet understood and magnesium oxide was still the principal ingredient applied to the production of lamp mantles. Johan Stadelmann's business was taken over by his sons Jean and Johan Leonard. Jean was a gas mantle fabricator, and Johan was a master potter, and responsible for the ceramic sections of the lamps. Sometime before 1876 they called their firm Jean Stadelmann & Cie (a German affectation of the time using fashionable French titles.) This lamp fabrication business was again taken over in 1891 by Moritz Thurnauer, a chemist whose son Bernhardt was the businessman who had already provided funding in the founding of Falk Stadelmann in London in 1887. There were probably other avenues of business at this time, because there was also an exhibition of a steam boiler around this time at one of the Stadelmann's addresses.

Salomon Falk was born in 1854. He emigrated to London from Hochberg in the Kingdom of Wuerttenberg, Empire of Germany, around 1880, and his first sales list is dated 16th January 1882 when he states he has set up as a Manufacturer's Agent and Importer having supplied his clients for six years prior to that date. It is not known if he was, in those six years, working for Stadelmann's from Germany on his own account, or for the previous four years in Germany for a firm called Ungers in England. Salomon was granted permission to give up his Wurttenberg nationality in 1885, and to live permanently in England.

The directors of Falk Stadelmann & Co in 1887 were Mr S. Guiterman, Chairman, Salomon Falk, Managing Director, and Bernhardt Thurnauer, permanent Director. Also working in the firm within a few years were Salomon's stepbrother Max, and Max's brother Victor Falk, who was company secretary.

salomonfalk maxfalk

Left - Victor and Salomon Falk (seated) c 1884/5 and Right, Max Falk 1890

Eventually, Falk Stadelmann developed into the largest oil lamp company in Britain, taking over famous names like Hinks. Viktor Falk left the firm in 1913, Salomon died later the same year, and control passed to Max. During the 1920s under the guidance of Max Falk and Bernhardt Thurnauer's son, Louis. (Louis Thurner) the company continued to thrive and expand, with offices in at least eight British cities. By now the Stadelmanns had no real involvement, but their name was retained as a recognition of the roles Thurnauer had played in the formation and running of the company.

The German "Veritas" trademark was owned by Jean Stadelmann & Co and was made available to Falk Stadelmann in London, initially for gas lamp mantles. Later, the brand was to became a major name in the interwar years in the UK, when Falk Stadelmann marketed all kinds of wick and candle lamps. There is evidence to suggest that Falks manufactured pressure lamps early in the century, but the records are not clear as to styles or model numbers, and it is possible that these were either central draught or pressurised air lamps with wick burners. In the 1920s Falk Stadelmann catalogues show a range of pressure lamps and lanterns bearing the Nova brand name. These are petrol or gasoline fueled lamps that bear a remarkable similarity to the Nu-Lite range manufactured by National Stampings in the USA. It is known that National Stampings produced lamps for sale by other companies, sometimes carrying the sellers brand, sometimes unbranded, so it is reasonable to assume that these Nova Veritas lamps were actually imported from America for resale in Europe and the Dominions. There is no documentation available at this stage to support this supposition, so it is equally possible that Falk Stadelmann actually manufactured them, or had them made elsewhere in Europe.

At some time in the company history it seems likely that there was an arrangement between Samuel Heath & Sons and Falk Stadelmann & Company, because identical lanterns carrying Heath's Thermidor logo and the Falk Stadelmann Veritas logos have been found. This same design of lantern has also been found with no identifying marks. This kerosene lantern is distinctive in several ways, not least for the large ear-shaped folds in the frame and the square carry handle. The fount shape and the attachment of the gallery are also somewhat different to the majority of British made lanterns, and there is a suggestion that the design may have originated in Germany. The unusual features suggest that the design has a single point of manufacture.

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Unmarked lantern, possibly by Veritas

In the 1930s, there was an association with European manufacturers such as Petromax and Primus, and some of these products were available in the UK and possibly elsewhere through Falk Stadelmann. The import arrangement continued up to the second world war, when such trading relationships would have become difficult or impossible to sustain. There is a first class reproduction of the September 1933 Falks catalogue (now out of print) published by Quest Publications, Great Milton, Oxford OX9 7NS England, showing all kinds of wick lamps and fittings. This catalogue includes reference to pressure lamps for sale made by Petromax and Primus. Also included are globes, mantles, and basic spares for other makes such as HASAG and Blanchard. At this time the firm employed around 3000 people.

During and after WW2, trading relations between Britain and the rest of Europe were in chaos, and it is not entirely clear where various products were made. It is certain that the Petromax lantern would no longer be available from Graetz in Berlin, and with the rapidly growing market for the very bright pressure lanterns of the time, it seems that Falk Stadelmann needed to find new ways to compete with the two largest lantern manufacturers in the UK The Tilley Lamp Co and Willis & Bates (Vapalux and Bialaddin). Consequently, production of a Veritas branded kerosene pressure lantern started in Birmingham, with just a few styles. There does not seem to be a great range of Veritas pressure lamps, but many must have been manufactured and sold because they do turn up regularly around the UK antique fairs and fleamarkets, and they are common too in Australia and New Zealand. Technically, Veritas pressure lamps were not as successful as Bialaddin and Tilley lamps, and there was a smaller range, so it is perhaps not surprising that were not as popular. However, Veritas pressure lamps are a pleasing design, and are always worth restoring if possible. Spares are very difficult to find, and the only way to get the items you need is to find another lantern that can be used for parts.

One ungainly feature of the early lanterns that carried the diamond shaped Veritas decal was the positioning of the tip cleaner lever just below the mantle inside the glass. Thus it was impossible to operate when the lantern was assembled. Similar designs provided a drop wire linked to the lever exiting below the base of the frame, an improvement that allowed the tip to be cleaned while the lantern was burning, but it was still rather awkward to use.

Lanterns based on the model 350 were supplied in quantity to the Dutch armed forces, probably some time after the end of WW2, but it is not known whether these were manufactured in the UK or in Europe.

veritas350

Veritas model 350

The 1950 Metal Agencies Catalogue shows Model 350 in two variants, nickel plated finish with vitreous enamel canopy at 3 pounds 12 shillings, and green sprayed finish with nickel plated canopy (model 350C) at 3 pounds 4 shillings and sixpence. Other colours were available, but not listed. The name "350" comes from the published light output of 350 CP, although the rating might be slightly enhanced to give a marketing edge over Tilley's 300CP. In 1954, the Ironmonger Standard Catalogue illustrated the Veritas Superb nickel plated brass lantern at three pound 10 shillings, or with a hammered metallic painted finish at 5 shillings cheaper. The 350 had a straight sided glass, the Superb used a large curved glass. Fount capacity was one and a half pints of kerosene (paraffin).

The model 350 Veritas lantern shown left was used by Sharman Builders of Northampton UK as emergency lighting in the carpentry workshop. It is thought to date from the early 1950s, and it probably hung in the workshop for around 20 years, receiving only little use.

Original literature relating to Veritas pressure lanterns by Falk Stadelmann is fairly rare, the image below is taken from a Model 350 instruction leaflet saved from the jaws of the crusher at the Weedon Road rubbish tip in Northampton by John Stevenson.

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Exploded diagram of Model 350

 

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1954 advertisement for the Veritas "Superb" lantern - and one belonging to Lionel in Northern Ireland

In addition to these two models of outdoor lantern, there may well have been a Veritas indoor lamp. All of the other lantern manufacturers of the time made and sold table lamps that were based on their outdoor lanterns, so it would be surprising if Falk Stadelmann did not. Electricity was not available in many of the rural communities in Britain until some years after the end of WW2, and even then it was not entirely reliable. The demand for indoor oil lighting was still strong, and the market demanded designs more aesthetically pleasing than the lantern.

During this post war period, the Veritas brand name takes precedence over the old company name, and the name itself is often a contraction, using simply Falks. It seems this was formalized at some time, but exactly when is unclear.

Other names associated with Falk Stadelmann are Falks Veritas Ltd, and Valor International, and other company links possibly include Coleman. This last association is something of a mystery, as Coleman enthusiasts have no records of a link between the companies. The evidence comes from one very tired old lantern found in Western Australia in 1998. The lantern was clearly the same as a Veritas 350, with no out-of-place features. To every intent it was a Veritas 350, except that instead of Veritas branding, the fount carried the very old remains of the Coleman name and Coleman logo. There was no evidence of repainting, and the logo did indeed look to be original.

Falk Stadelmann's final decline occurred after poor trading years in the late 1960s. It was taken over by Jessel Investments, who sold off all property and ceased manufacturing activities. Two small entities remained in 1990, Falks Veritas in Malta and Falks Lighting Importers and Distributors in Dublin.

I am indebted to Brian Falk for information provided in these pages from his research. Family photographs and personal family history are included here with his kind permission.

 

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