Lampe Berger is a fragrance lamp brand that we love! Designed to rid the air of odours and bacteria, whilst simultaneously raising the oxygen levels and scenting the air, it is the original fragrance lamp and it is one of our favourites! In this blog post, we take a look at the history of fragrance lamps and Lampe Berger itself.
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The fragrance lamp was first invented in the 1800s, and in 1898, was patented by a French pharmaceutical dispenser named Maurice Berger. Its key use at the time was to purify the air in hospitals and morgues, for hygiene reasons. Lampe Berger works by burning essential oils, using a catalytic burner, at temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This causes molecules to be released and destroy unpleasant smells, at the same time as spreading the scented essential oil.
The Lampe Berger was originally fuelled on methyl alcohol; this gave off formaldehyde and smelt unpleasant. Although primarily used in medical settings for some decades, the Lampe Berger became popular in households in the 1930s. Berger had sold the company in 1927, to Jean-Jacques Failot, who replaced the methyl with ethyl alcohol. The ethyl alcohol gave off a pleasant, fruity fragrance, and other fragrances were added, making it an effective air freshener for homes. Various well-known designers and manufacturers of the time, including the likes of Cristal de Baccarat and René Lalique, were called on to work with Failot. These collaborations resulted in Lampe Berger becoming not only a household name, but a collector’s item too, with sales of the 1930s rising to 20,000 lamps per year.
Encouraged by the lamp’s success in France, Failot began to export elsewhere. However, the alcohol was taxed at luxury item rates, incurring higher costs than originally anticipated. After Jean-Jacques Failot’s death in 1940, his son, Gilbert Failot, took over the running of the company. Between a bombing on the factory, and extremely limited materials for manufacturing, the Second World War took its toll on the company, and production all but halted. Failot restarted production after the war, but using porcelain and earthenware instead of crystal. Production gradually increased and sales began to rise again.
In 1973, the now fully recovered company was sold to industrialist Marcel Auvrey and was making sales of 80,000 lamps per year. The company was handed over to his son Philippe in 1989, and 1992 saw the first overseas division of Lampe Berger. Just a few years later in 1998, new materials, such as enamel, were introduced. The company now sells 800,000 lamps and five million litres of fragrance per year, all over the world.
The company recently added a technical centre in the French city of Limoges, known for its porcelain and enamel. The centre is the base for a research and development team to investigate catalysis. There are around 100 different styles of lamp, with more being developed each year, over 50 individual fragrances, and numerous accessories available for purchase. Now an international company, though maintaining its French roots and branding, Lampe Berger continues to go from strength to strength and is always a firm favourite with our customers.