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Hertford County woman’s kerosene lamp collection spans 55 years

Posted at 3:44 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 17:28:12-05

MURFREESBORO,  N.C. - In the quaint town of Murfreesboro, inside a historic home could be the perfect place to be if the lights go out.

"So, this is how you trim a wick, and then we light it, ahhhh," says Trudy Gibson.

Every square inch of 82 -year-old Gibson's Hertford County cottage is covered in lamps.

"This one is a king heart, and this one is the most expensive one we have in the house, and this one is the oldest and this is called an 'eye winker,'" Gibson rattles off as we move about the rooms.

There is a corn lamp marked with a literal ear of corn, an owl lamp - too many to even see in one visit.

"This hear is the peanut lamp; [it's] very common in the South," Gibson shows us.

1,184 pristine kerosene lamps are displayed down the hall -  and unbelievably, in their own decade room upstairs.

"This is what I call the 'Ho Hum Room.' [It's] not the most prestigious; there are many patterns up here," says Gibson.

Antiques that are beautiful and rare - well, most are, anyway.

"This is the ugliest lamp we have. I would practically give it away, it's so ugly," Gibson laughs. 

It's a collection that spans 55 years.

"Dealers have told us it's the biggest collection they have seen," says Gibson.

Gibson's late husband, Earl, fueled her fascination. He got his first lamp right after they married. She had one as a little girl as well, growing up without electricity.

"He got the itch with his first lamp, and he was never satisfied unless we bought more lamps and lamps," Gibson said.

Earl passed 10 years ago, but "Puddin's Treasures," as he used to call her, still lights up her life.

"I'm sure he did it for me. His time was limited in the end," she explained.

In every single lamp, he left behind his legacy: A note detailing every aspect of the antique.

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"No one could remember them like Earl did. He could tell you the page number, the name of it, where he got it, how much value of it was," she said. 

Now, Gibson is looking to pass the torch.

"I am 82. I don't know how much longer I will live, and my kids don't want these, so I am looking for a collection or a dealer," she said.

A way to brighten the hearts of future generations.

"It's a good collection. It's meant to be shared."