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02 / 06 / 2021

How to Light your Oil Lamp

Instructions on lighting your Oil LampFollow our b...
04 / 03 / 2018

How to Choose Lighting for Your Living Room

If you’re like most people then you probably spend...
05 / 10 / 2017

What is a Fitter

Probably the most common question that we get aske...
23 / 08 / 2017

Oil Lamp; Troubleshooting

We often get customers calling asking for advice o...
03 / 03 / 2016

History of John Moncrieff - Part Two

Products manufactured by the North British Gla...

All Blogs


2 June, 2021
How to Light your Oil Lamp

Instructions on lighting your Oil Lamp

Follow our below instructions to ensure many years of use from your Oil Lamp Burner:

  • Remove the oil holder from the lamp before filling it with paraffin or lamp oil
  • Remove the lamp chimney and carefully unscrew the burner ( be careful not to use the stem of the burner as a lever when doing this)
  • Fill the oil holder approximately 3/4 full with paraffin or colourless lamp oil. 
  • Screw the burner back on the holder again.
  • Leave the wick to become fully saturated for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Turn the wick until it emerges just above the wick holder.
  • If necessary trim the wick level using a pair of scissors or sharp knife.  
  • After lighting the wick replace the lamp chimney and keep the flame low until the cold glass has had time to warm so as to prevent the glass from cracking.
  • Now adjust the flame such that there is no smoke.  When the lamp is first used the adjustment will need to be repeated a number of times as the wick stretches. 
  • To extinguish the burner turn the wick down until the flame goes out.
  • Allow the lamp chimney to cool before relighting the lamp.
  • To prevent the swollen wick damaging the turning mechanism of (normal) burners it is recommended that the wick be replaced on an annual basis.
4 March, 2018
How to Choose Lighting for Your Living Room

If you’re like most people then you probably spend a great deal of time in your living room. After all, this is the room where you can relax at the end of the day or entertain when guests come over. When most people picture the perfect living room, they envisage a cosy, welcoming place and lighting has a huge part to play in creating this environment.

Living room lighting should be a mixture of general, task and accent lighting. This allows you to build a layer of light and helps to create a warm and inviting ambience. One thing you should be careful to avoid is having an overly bright central light that floods the middle of the middle of the room and leaves the corners in shadow. Living room lighting should be fairly soft and not too harsh on your eyes as this can be an unpleasant distraction when you’re trying to wind down at the end of the evening.

General lighting 

General lighting is your central or main source of light, normally provided by ceiling or wall lights. It should provide a comfortable level of light that allows you to see well enough to perform general tasks and move about safely. General lights are your rooms statement fixture and include chandeliers, central pendants and table lamps. 

A good tip for living room lighting is to have a dimmer switch that allows you to change the level of lighting depending on your mood. For instance, if you’re entertaining guests you might want a brighter, more cheerful lighting effect whereas if you’re relaxing on your own, you may want a slightly dimmer, softer light. 

Task Lighting

Task lighting includes wall lights, floor lamps and table lamps. It is particularly important if you like to read in the evenings, providing even lighting that helps you see well enough to perform tasks that require a more direct light. Well placed task lighting such as low level table lamps and reading lamps can help to create a cosy, warm atmosphere throughout your living room.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is typically a slightly stronger light used to highlight different features within your living room. It can be provided by carefully positioned lamps or small recess lights and is ideal for bringing out features such as pictures, ornate furniture and fireplaces.

Trust The Experts

Here at John Moncrieff we have over 150 years’ experience in the lighting industry and know better than most how to perfectly illuminate your home. Browse our extensive range of lighting, from flush ceiling lights floor lamps at

5 October, 2017
What is a Fitter

Probably the most common question that we get asked is… how do I know what fitter size is on my shades? or what is a fitter? This blog hopes to make that clear.

The fitteris the hole in the top of your shades, where you fit it to you light.  There are 2 styles either a straight hole ora hole with a neck.

The most common sizes are shown below. The measurement is across the diameter of the fitter at the widest point.

With the fitter size in hand, we can better direct you to the choice of shades that we can offer to fit your lamp.  It is also useful for us to know the height of your shade and also the diameter at the widest point.

The most common fitter size in the UK is a straight hole 28-30mm in diameter, these shades will fit directly onto your bayonet cap bulb holder. To fit these shades it is simply a case of removing the shade ring, offer up the shade to the bulb holder and screw back on the shade ring to secure the shade.  This is exactly same process for the larger screw in type bulbs, these are known as E27 or Edison Screw Bulbs

The shades with neck are attached to the light fitting by what is known as a gallery. In simple terms this is a brass cup with 3 screws used to retain the shade. In order to fit shades with a gallery neck, you firstly loosen off the screws, then offer up the shade to the gallery, making sure that it is gallery fully covers the neck, then you simply tighten the screws to grip the neck. Note Do not over tighten the screws, as when the light heats up in use it can lead the shade to expand slightly, and if the screws are too tight, it can cause the shade to crack.

The third most common way to fit a shade is with a spring fitter. In this case it is a flat gallery with 2 or 3 spring clips attached.  Shades with this fitting style have a straight hole, usually between 45-55mm in diameter.  In this case, you simply pinch the springs together, and push them through the hole in the top of the shade, the springs open out inside the shade and hold it securely.  Note be a careful when handling the springs as they can spring back and pinch your finger, so make sure you pinch them assertively.

There are many variations on a theme, but the above are the most common ways of securing your shade

23 August, 2017
Oil Lamp; Troubleshooting

We often get customers calling asking for advice on their oil lamps. The most typical questions are


Why is my lamp smoking ?

What fuel do I use in my oil lamp  ?

Why is the flame so weak ?


In this blog I will give you a few pointers on what to check in order to get your oil lamp working at its efficient best . It doesn’t purport to be a complete list, but certainly they should help.



Personally I prefer to use odourless paraffin, this is still readily available from most good hardware stores. You still get a whiff of paraffin but it’s not so bad, just make sure your room is ventilated. In my opinion, pre-packaged bottles of Lamp Oil are not as efficient as Paraffin, I find that it is too thick and it doesn’t climb the wick as well.  Impure fuel can be a cause of a smoking lamp.


Make sure that your wick is either trimmed flat or into a point, and that there are no carbon deposits around the top, if there are, trim them off.  Fuel cannot penetrate carbon, so to ensure a smooth burn remove it.

Also make sure there is no more than a maximum of 1cm of wick showing. If your wick is too high then your lamp will smoke, your chimney will not only get dirty, it also runs the risk of breaking.


Having the correct chimney for your lamp is essential. If you have the wrong chimney, then you will not get sufficient draw, and your lamp will burn weakly. If you are in any doubt, drop us an email with a photo of your lamp and we can advise.


The burner is the engine of your lamp, and as such it needs to be treated with care. To ensure an efficient burn, make sure that the burner is clear of any carbon deposits and that all the ventilation holes are clear.


If you have checked all these points and you still are not happy with your lamp, please contact us, we are happy to advise.

 I attach a useful video below 

3 March, 2016
History of John Moncrieff - Part Two

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Products manufactured by the North British Glassworks 

Gauge Glass: ‘Perth’ – ‘Unific’ – ‘Monax’ 

In the early years, the company grew with the steam engine, developing tubular gauge glasses to suit increasing boiler pressures. These were sold to every company running steam locomotives in the then ImageBritish Empire, and were known in every country on the planet. In the USA, they were known as “Scotch gauge glass”. 

Essentially, there were two types of tubular gauge glass, both in ‘heavy wall’. The “Perth” gauge glass was the earliest type, made from soda lime, but it was only suitable for low pressure steam applications, or tank contents gauges, because of its poor resistance to thermal shock. As Colin Mayor recalls: “I say made from soda lime, but apparently bottles, from any source — broken window glass, and even old mirrors — were fed into the ‘Soda’ furnace; one can only wonder what the quality was like.” 

As for the “Unific” brand gauge glass (with a blue label), it was made from Monax borosilicate glass, in a variety of diameters, normally 3/8" – 1/2" – 5/8" – 3/4" — but anything from ¼" (6mm) – 1" (25mm) and equivalent metric sizes for Europe. Lengths were anywhere between 3" (76mm) and 48" (122cm). Usually for the boilers it was between 9" (23cm) and 18" (46cm), with longer lengths being used as tank contents gauges at low pressures. The “Perth” brand was also made in these diameters and lengths. 

Other names were used for gauge glass (e.g. Monamel, Monax) and Trademark Registration documents used by Moncrieff’s could be researched in this regard, although it would be very time-consuming to do so. 

Monamel Brand 

Various other types of tubing were made in soda, borosilicate, and aluminosilicate glass, mostly for test tubes and manipulated laboratory ware. In the period 1962-1996, when Colin Mayor was with Moncrieff’s, only borosilicate tubing was made. Image

It is possible, but unlikely, that “Monax” was registered in the USA as a name for Moncrieff’s borosilicate However, Moncrieff’s did not license the melting of it to any other company. Monax was also a US trade name owned by MacBeth Evans Co and used initially for lamp shades and later for a range of opaque white tableware – after take over by Corning, this tableware continued in production. 

As a rule, tubing finished at the factory would be cut to length on a machine, the ends fused (flame polished) and sandblasted (not etched) with the company name and brand name. It was hand-drawn in lengths of up to 150 feet (46 metres), then gauged and cut into convenient 6 ft. (183cm) lengths. These were shipped to Agents around the world, who would then cut them to order, usually in non-standard lengths, using one of the cutters made by Moncrieff’s. 

It is known that in 1872 Moncrieff’s awarded sole distribution rights for the United States to a Mr. H.A. Rogers; this was continued by his successors until 1925 when the assets and goodwill of the H.A. Rogers Co. were acquired by Jenkins Brothers of Bridgeport, Connecticut and conducted business under the name of Jenkins Bros. Moncrieff-Rogers Division. It remains unclear what happened to Jenkins but at some point the sale (1950/60s) of Moncrieff gauge glass was through Corning. 


Moncrieff Gauge Glass Tube Cutter 

Up until World War I, nearly all chemical and laboratory glassware had been imported from Germany. However, with the breakout of hostilities, Moncrieff’s was contracted, in 1914, by the British Government to produce a complete a range of products to fill the gap (around 3,000 different items) and continued to produce these in an ever-shrinking range until the factory ceased all production in January, 1996. By this time, Corning had an interest in Jobling’s at Sunderland and were producing Pyrex beakers etc. by automated machinery. As well, low-priced imports, principally from Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic) had made hand-blown laboratory glassware totally uneconomic. 

Jack Lavety who used Monax laboratory ware remembers: Interestingly, I have accidentally broken quite a number of pieces of Moncrieff glassware. I worked in a Ministry of Agriculture Torry Research Station laboratory and we used Monax ware because it was cheaper than the ubiqitous Pyrex. Unfortunately, it was much thinner and breakage rates were horrendous. 

Liquid level gauges continued to be developed by Moncrieff’s to meet the very high pressure and temperature requirements of the modern petrochemical and nuclear industries, and during the 1980’s and early 1990’s made all of flat gauge glasses for the Corning Glass Company in New York State, U.S.A., branded with the Corning trade name (Monax had to be given a Pyrex number to satisfy US trade politics). These gauge glasses were made from “Monax” borosilicate and labeled “Macbeth Brand”. After the Moncrieff factory closed in Perth, Corning purchased these from T.G.I. Ilmenau in Germany, and had them branded ‘Macbeth’. 

The Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau GmbH is an internationally known German producer and processor of borosilicate and soda-lime glass. In 1995/1996 as a logical continuation of the glass working tradition in Thuringia, a new glassworks with a state-of-the-art production plant was set up. As an extremely flexible medium-sized company, the company supplies standard glassware and is a reliable partner for the development and production of products according to customer specifications. The company has 230 employees and has an annual turnover of €23m. (ref 2005.  

The trade name ‘Monax’ has not been used by Corning, in the US, for many years. The ‘Macbeth’ brand name is still in use for flat borosilicate gauge glass: Corning, Swift Glass Company and John C. Ernst Co (all US companies.) 

3 March, 2016
History of John Moncrieff - Part One

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The Present Day


In 2000 the John Moncrieff Ltd name was re-established; a former employee took over the name and re-established this proud Perth company. The continuous link with the original John Moncrieff is maintained as they had worked continuously since June 1995.

The present John Moncrieff Ltd is a thriving business based in Kinross.  It still maintains the tradition of supplying glass for Industrial, scientific and engineering applications, more recently they have developed a highly successful lighting division.

Moncrieff had always been a manufacturer of oil lamp chimneys, to complement the chimneys shades were manufactured, and from there they began to manufacture and supply shades for electric lights. In a few short years Moncrieff is now firmly established as a innovative lighting business. Supplying  custom made, vintage and modern lighting . 


In 1834, John Moncrieff was born to Agnes and Thomas Moncrieff, at Cherrybank, Perth. He attended the village school until he was 13 years old, when he got his first job at the Perth Ink Works (1847), owned by John Todd & Co. He continued his education at night school. In 1855, at the age of 21, he was appointed manager of Todd’s glassworks, where he remained until John Todd’s death in 1865. While at Todd’s, John Moncrieff proved to be a very practical man (according to his obituary) taking on the job of building furnaces and experimenting with the glass being produced. Following the death of John Todd, he decided to set up his own glassworks, initially naming it the North British Glass and Ink Works, which he opened in 1868 at 189 South Street, Perth. These premises were rented and, according to the 1871 census records, five men and 13 boys were employed in the manufacture of ink and glass. The company remained at South Street until 1881 when a new facility was set up on two acres of land at St. Catherine’s Road. The 1881 census reports that 24 men, five women, 19 boys and four girls were employed. In 1896, a further 32-acre parcel of land was leased from the Council at the lower harbour.

In addition to his work, John Moncrieff was active in the local community, giving both time and money for the benefit of the City of Perth. He was a member of the Perth Liberal Club and eventually became Vice President of both the Perth Liberal Club and the Perth Liberal Association. As well, he served on the Perth Town Council for five years and as a member of the School Board for 12 years. He belonged to the Evangelical Union Church and ultimately became the Manager and President. As an advocate of temperance, he became President of the Perth Gospel Temperance Society. Yet even these did not fully occupy him. In addition, he held the position of President of the Perth Bowling Club, and was a Director of the Perth Bible Society. A keen fisher, he belonged to the Tay Fishing Syndicate, and presumably glass target ball shooting fell into his list of activities.

He married Christina Robb (born 1851) on 6th June, 1867, and was later referred to as ‘John Robb’, possibly to avoid confusion with his youngest son. He died of a heart attack on September 30th, 1899, and was survived by his wife and three children: Thomas Robb Moncrieff (born 6th August, 1869), Winifred Catherine Moncrieff (born 26th September, 1871) and John “Jack” Moncrieff (born 1st June, 1874, died 29th April, 1950) who took over as Managing Director of the company after his father’s death.

The superior quality of Moncrieff’s products earned the company an international reputation and its gauge glasses, marketed under the brand names ‘Perth’ and ‘Unific’ were sought world-wide by locomotive companies, steamship companies and the British and foreign Navies. This leadership was recognized in 1876 with award of the first of many medals at international trade exhibitions. Moncrieff’s had awarded the sole selling rights for the United States to H.A. Rogers in 1872; this was continued by his successors until 1925 when the assets and goodwill of the H.A. Rogers Co. was acquired by Jenkins Brothers. The business then being conducted under the name Jenkins Bros. Moncrieff-Rogers Division.

During 1896 Moncrieff’s further expanded its operation by leasing a 32-acre parcel of land from the Council at the lower harbour; it was here that the gauge glasses that were to make John Moncrieff’s fortune were fully developed. In addition to ink and gauge glasses the works also made glass bottles, pigments and mineral dyes, as well as gums for bookbinding

In 1900, under the management of John Moncrieff, junior, the company acquired the ink production division of John Todd & Co. The glass side of Todd’s was sold to Patrick McNeill, a Perth bottle manufacturer, who carried on business as Gibson & McNeill for only another two to three years. In 1905, Moncrieff’s became a limited company. Between 1915 and 1919, following the outbreak of World War I, the company constructed three new furnaces at the St. Catherine’s Road site. The War effort meant new challenges for the British glass industry, which had depended on imports, mostly from Germany and Bohemia, to fulfill its laboratory glassware requirements. More had to be produced domestically and Moncrieff’s readily met that challenge. In 1919 they acquired Tomey’s Glass Works, which had been operated by Enoch’s two sons, Enoch Joseph and William, since their father’s death in 1867. Although Todd’s and Tomey’s continued to trade under their own names, Moncrieff’s had now become the only producer of glass in Perth.

In 1920, John Moncrieff received the O.B.E., in recognition of he contribution by Moncrieff’s Glassworks to the development of the laboratory glass industry in Britain. The company supplied laboratory glassware to British Government departments, factories, hospitals, universities and schools. As a result of continuing research and development of the Moncrieff range of glassware, a new product was introduced in 1926, called Monax. This is a borosilicate glass with great stability and strength; it is resistant to both acids and alkalies and can withstand sudden and extreme temperature changes. A further development occurred at Moncrieff’s in the 1920’s after the cessation of hand production of mould-made bottles in 1926. During the 19th century, machinery to mass produce glass bottles had been pioneered in the United States and Alexander McNish of the U.S. worked with Moncrieff’s to design small-scale automatic bottle making machinery. The resulting machines were called Monish – a blending of the Moncrieff and McNish names. The Monish Glass Machine Co. was established to start production, and the first Monish machine was installed in 1926 at the Tomey’s glassworks premises. This represented significant progress and leadership in the production of glass bottles.

In keeping with its commitment to diversification, Moncrieff’s began exhibiting a new line of coloured glass called ‘Domestic and Fancy Glassware’ at the British Industries Fair in 1919. And in 1924, also at the British Industries Fair in London, a line of art glass called ‘Monart Ware’ was exhibited. This Scottish art glassware was the creation of John Moncrieff’s wife, Isobel, and Salvadore Ysart, a Spanish glassblower who had been hired by Moncrieff’s in 1922 to make laboratory glass, with his son Paul as apprentice. Salvador Ysart and his four sons (Paul, Augustine, Vincent, and Antoine) were destined to leave a momentous legacy within the Scottish art glass industry. (Link to article on “Monart Glass”) The production of Monart glassware ceased when Paul Ysart left Moncrieff’s in 1963 to join Caithness Glass as Training Officer and Technical Advisor.

John Moncrieff died on April 29th, 1950 and by 1951 control of the company had passed to David Bennie and Sons of Glasgow. It continued to prosper into the 1970’s but changed ownership a number of times during the 1980’s and 90’s. In the 80’s and early 90’s, the company was supplying flat gauge glass made from Monax borosilicate, labeled “Macbeth Brand” to the Corning Glass Company in the United States. In 1992, the company was bought from receivership by Fuller Investments, chaired by Christopher Lattila-Campbell and the name was changed to “Monax”. Mr. Campbell’s wife, like Mrs. Moncrieff before her, was interested in the art glass side of the business and did develop some innovative uses for old stocks of lab ware, milk jars, etc. She toured craft fairs with these products. The last piece of glass made in the Perth factory left the end of the Lehr on December 21, 1995 and the plant was closed down in January, 1996. Even then its work was continued by Monax Glass, Spectraglass and in the year 2000 the company name of John Moncrieff Ltd., was re-established, with a mission of developing to its previous glory. This company carries on business in Dunfermline, Fife, producing art glass, paperweights, gauge/sight glasses, circular sight glasses, tubular gauge glass, and other glass products.