Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 2nd to 4th century CE. A fine pair of mold-made pottery oil lamps with circular bases, gradually-expanding walls, rounded shoulders, pierced tab handles, and heart-shaped wick spouts. The recessed tondo of one lamp depicts a small mouse eating a palmette leaf in low relief, the rodent with a plump body and a sinuous tail. The second lamp displays a crescent moon and four stars in low relief within the tondo, and the base bears a heavily-faded planta pedis (maker's mark). Size of each [both are relatively similar]: 2.55" W x 1.5" H (6.5 cm x 3.8 cm).
These two lamps and thirty-nine other items hammered at Bonhams, London, Knightsbridge Antiquities Auction (May 8, 2013, part of lot 96)
Provenance: private Davis collection, Houston, Texas, USA; ex-Bonhams, London, Knightsbridge Antiquities Auction (May 8, 2013, part of lot 96); ex-private English collection, formed in the 1970s, thence by descent
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Both lamps have surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age and use, minor char marks to wick spouts, small nicks to shoulders, handles, and bases, and minor fading to raised tondo decorations. Mouse lamp has small repair and stable hairline fissure to shoulder. Nice earthen deposits and light mineral deposits throughout. Both lamps have old inventory numbers written on bases in either pencil or black ink.