One of the most striking features on the 17th and 18th century ships was the highly decorated stern lanterns. Ships carried 1-7 of these large lanterns, although two on the stern quarters and one at stern centerline was most common. These lanterns were extremely important for night navigation.
In the days when light came from burning oil in lamps, a vessel at sea needed crewmen to constantly care for the lamps. This care involved trimming the wick, which drew the oil up from the storage reservoir, so that the flame would be clean and bright.
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