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Night Lamp Named After a Wildly Popular 1890 Song

By Barry Schwartz

We've been able to find a good deal of information about this sparkling little flint glass night lamp!  First, three variations of this little beauty are shown in our lamp reference books:  Figures 148 and 151 of Frank and Ruth Smith's book "Miniature Lamps" and figure 236 in Ruth Smith's book "Miniature Lamps II" all show this lamp, each with a slightly differently shaped shade.  This lamp has a shade shaped just like the one shown in Figure 148 of "Miniature Lamps".  In her "Price Guide for Miniature Lamps",  Marjorie Hulsebus rates all three variations of this lamp as being "scarce".  Since June of 2002, we've seen just eight examples, in all, of this variation of the lamp (which is identical to the lamp shown in the Fostoria Glass Company ad reproduced below).

 

 

According to both Melvin Murray ("Fostoria, Ohio Glass, II") and Ann McDonald ("Evolution of the Night Lamp") this lamp was manufactured by the Fostoria Glass Company and introduced in 1890.  To support this they cite advertisements in the July, 1890 issues of the Pottery and Glasswre Reporter and the Crockery & Glass Journal (see a reproduction of the Crockery and Glass Journal ad below).  The ads indicate, as McDonald notes, that the lamp came with either etched (i.e., frosted) or plain shades.  This example of the Annie Rooney is made of a clear glass base with a partially frosted (etched) shade.

 

Murray notes that this may have been the only night lamp produced by Fostoria in Fostoria, Ohio (before its 1891 move to Moundsville, W.Va.).  Murray goes on to say that the lamp was composed of a "Foster Block Base" topped by a "Frosted Artichoke Shade" and that this may be the only example of the company in Ohio "mixing two distinctly different patterns into one commercial product for the marketplace".

All of that is interesting (to us, at least) but it doesn't explain why this lamp was called, by Fostoria, the "Annie Rooney".  Googling "Annie Rooney", we discovered that there was a song written by Michael Nolan and performed by him in Engish Music Halls in 1890 called "Little Annie Roone".  Annie Hart ("The Bowery Girl") brought the song to the U.S. and performed it in New York's London Theatre.  After her performance the song became a huge hit.  It later became a favorite piano roll and circus calliope tune.  Given the timing (i.e., both the lamp and the song being introduced in the U.S. in 1890) we think it's reasonable to conclude that the lamp was name after the girl in the song.  We thought that you might like to see the lyrics of the song ("Little Annie Rooney").  [ An instrumental version of this song can be found at
http://cobsrollerorgans.com.cobs/355/home - just click on MIDI when the page appears].

A winning way, a pleasant smile,                                 The fire burns cheerfully and bright,
Dress'd so near but quite in style,                               As a family circle round each night,
Merry chaff your time to wile,                                  We form, and ev'ry one's delight,
Has little Annie Rooney.                                      Is little Annie Rooney.

Ev'ry evening, rain or shine,                                                We've been engaged close on a year,
I make a call twixt eight and nine,                                   The happy time is drawing near,
On her who shortly will be mine,                                 I'll wed the one I love so dear
Little Annie Rooney.                                                     Little Annie Rooney.

She's my sweetheaart, I'm her beau;                                        My friends declare I'm in a jest,
She's my Annie, I'm her Joe,                                                Until the time comes will not rest,
Little Annie Rooney is my sweetheart!                                 But one who knows its value best
                                                                                                 Is little Annie Rooney. 

The parlor's small, but neat and clean,                                                                                           
And set with taste so seldom seen,                                                                                                  
And you can bet, the household queen,                                                                                          
Is little Annie Rooney                                                                                          

   Much later, in the 1920's, King Features Syndicate seized upon Annie Rooney of the 1890 song to creat a cartoon character and strip intended to compete with the Chicago Tribune Syndicate's highly successful "Little Orphan Annie".  While Annie Rooney, the cartoon character, did better than any other of several other Orphan Annie knock-offs, it never came anywhere close to the success of Orphan Annie.  But, as far as we know, only Annie Rooney, and not Little Orphan Annie, was memorialized with a night light.
                                                                                                                    

Barry and Kay Schwartz are members of the Night Light Club and the Historical Lighting Society of Canada.  They are power sellers on ebay, selling miniature lamps under the name of  kayschwartzKay and Barry may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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