Pressure Lamps International

B.A. Hjorth & Co - Primus

©AWMoore 1999


Although Primus has given it's name to a generic product, just as have Tilley, there is not much published information about the company. Primus is best known for it's cooking stoves, and in the UK at least, those little three legged brass stoves are often called Primus Stoves, no matter who the actual maker was. Primus also made liquid fuel lamps and lanterns, and their products are synonymous with good quality.

Primus factory

Primus products are advertised in many of the trade magazines of the 1930s, and in one case there is even an advertisement showing a Primus lamp and a Coleman lamp in reversed roles - some junior clerk must have got the artwork mixed up, printing went ahead, no one spotted the mistake until too late, and it's recorded for us all to see now. Check out the advert on page 40 of the 1935 Army and Navy Stores Catalogue!

Going back over 100 years, in the mid 1880s, Frans Lindqvist designed a cooking stove which proved to be so popular that he was able to set up a business, using the name Primus to market his product. His little enterprise was later taken over by B.A. Hjorth and Co, who produced the stove in large numbers. They also began to produce incandescent mantle lamps. Beyond this, I have no details of what happened to Primus. There were several table lamps, and some lanterns made between the first and second war, and there is an unverified dating chart which relates to the numbers and letters stamped on some Primus products. I understand that Primus began dating in 1911, and the letter element of the stamp translates to a date. The meaning of the numbers is not clear, so perhaps someone can tell me. It is also likely that the codes apply primarily to blow lamps.

Primus Date Codes

A = 1911

B = 1912

C = 1913

D = 1914

E = 1915

F = 1916

G = 1917

H = 1918

I = 1919

J = 1920

K = 1921

L = 1922

M = 1923

N = 1924

O = 1925

P = 1926

R = 1927

S = 1928

T = 1929

U = 1930

V = 1931

W = 1932

X = 1933

Y = 1934

Z = 1935

AA = 1936

AB = 1937

AC = 1938

AD = 1939

AE = 1940

AF = 1941

AG = 1942

AH = 1943

AI = 1944

AJ = 1945

AK = 1946

AL = 1947

AM = 1948

AN = 1949

AO = 1950

AP = 1951

AR = 1952

AS = 1953

AT = 1954

AU = 1955

AV = 1956

****57 = 1957

****58 = 1958

****59 = 1959

****60 = 1960

****61 = 1961

****62 = 1962

****63 = 1963

Recent research has shown that this table may not be fully accurate. The table probably originated with codes for blowlamps, lanterns and stoves, but does not seem to be used in the more modern products. In the earliest models that include letter codes, the letter was included in the centre of the circular Primus logo, usually centrally positioned on the base of the item. All three items were stamped in this position. Later blowlamps have the stampmarks on the side of the body toward the base, usually an inch or so from the handle. The lamps and stoves continue to be stamped on the base but are no longer in a circular logo. After 1963 the codes may have been included on the out packaging rather than the item itself.

City Hardware (suppliers of Primus parts in London) suggest that no Primus petrol or kerosene lamps were manufactured after 1939, but I think this is not actually true. It is known that there were at least ten models made before 1939, including petrol and paraffin fueled, table lamps and twin and single mantle lantern. Primus still make LPG lanterns. Primus discontinued making paraffin stoves in 1962. AB Optimus acquired the rights to produce and market the paraffin stoves. Sievert (another blowlamp/stove producer from Sweden) was developing its LPG appliances in similar manner to those of Primus and the parts of each of the two companies dealing with LPG were amalgamated in 1966 to become Primus-Sievert AB.Reference the dating code.

Some lamps and lanterns from Primus are shown below.

Primus 980Primus 981Primus 991Primus 992

Primus 994Primus 1014Primus 1015Primus 1020

Primus 1025Primus 1051Primus 1080Primus 1081

Primus lamps and lanterns:

Model number

Fuel

Globe

CP

Style

980

Kerosene

Mica (/2) or Glass (/4)

300

Lantern

981

Kerosene

Mica (/2) or Glass (/4)

300

Lantern - quickstart

991

Kerosene

Mica (/2) or Glass (/4)

200

Lantern

992

Kerosene

Glass (/2 or /6)

200

Table lamp

994

Kerosene

Glass (/2 or /6)

200

Table lamp

1014

Kerosene

Glass (/2, /4, or /6)

300

Table lamp

1015

Kerosene

Glass + Parchment shade

300

Table lamp

1020

Kerosene

Mica (/2) or Glass (/4)

300

Lantern

1022

Kerosene

Glass (/2 or /6)

300

Table lamp

1024

Kerosene

Glass (/2 or /6)

300

Table lamp

1025

Kerosene

Glass + Parchment shade

300

Table lamp

1051

Gasoline

Mica (/2) or Glass (/4)

300

Lantern - twin mantle

1080

Kerosene

Mica (/2) or Glass (/4)

400

Lantern

1081

Kerosene

Mica (/2) or Glass (/4)

400

Lantern - quickstart

The suffix /2 indicated tha the lantern was fitted with a mica globe, /4 meant it had a glass globe, the letters Ind after the model number meant there was a level indicator fitted in the tank (models 980, 981, 1080 and 1081) Other suffixes on table lamps referred to the type and style of shade.

Primus still included lamps in their 1952 catalogue no 379 Page 57. The lamp depicted is of the normal style for Primus as in model 1020. The page in question is a reference to parts and operation, therefore has no specific model numbers. The page commences with the statement that "No article has a better or more complete service than 'Primus' and even the first apparatus can still be readily supplied with parts".

In the 1960/61 catalogue no 385, they still advertise lanterns and lamps. This time however the lantern is what we would describe as a Petromax style. The glass and body however are clearly marked with the word Primus. A table lamp is also illustrated, similar to pre-war items but with a parchment shade. The lamps listed at this time are:-

Kerosene/Paraffin

1. 1082S 300-450 cp 2.5 pt N P brass tank 130/-
2. 1084S 300-400 cp 2.5 pt N P brass tank & instant lighting device 150/-
3. 1092 350 cp 2.5 pt N P brass tank 135/-
4. ???? 500 cp 2.5 pt N P brass tank & instant lighting device 150/-
5.1025/8 300 cp 1.75 pt N P brass tank + parchment shade 101/-

Gasoline/Petrol

6. 1060 350-500 cp 2.25 pt N P brass tank no preheating 135/-

 

I have several old Primus catalogues available through the generosity of other collectors, so they will be incorporated here - eventually!


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