Speaking of Antiquing – March 2016

There’s always been a need to illuminate the darkness, to bring illumination into one’s dwelling. Fast-forward through time, past oil and wick, past whale oil, past Edison’s invention of the incandescent light bulb and the nearly simultaneous invention of the Aladdin Industries mantle lamp that glowed brighter than anything yet produced.

In the 21st century, we can light our way with our cellular phones when needed! We open a pantry door and the light comes on. We strategically plan lighting features in our houses, yards and even our swimming pools. We carry high-powered LED flashlights capable of signaling airplanes…but I digress.

As an antique collector and dealer, lamps hold a special place in my heart and have a fascinating story to tell and interesting history.

For example, the American Art Deco period produced some of the most collectible lamps and lamp shades. The Ronson Art Metal works of New York produced figural lamps with Egyptian themes. Scantily-clad or unclad women were a popular theme, as well as animals singly or in pairs, gazelles were a popular choice. Geometrics and serpents could also be found aplenty at this time.

Tiffany-style lamps are extremely popular and one of the most copied lamp in history, namely the signature stained glass lamps and shades made by Louis Comfort Tiffany. His studios perfected the making and designing of the glass used in creating some of the most beautiful lamp shades. They were expensive for their time and made a statement of wealth and refinement. All of Tiffany lamp bases were made from the finest quality bronze. Lamps produced by Tiffany studios can fetch tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mid-century lamps tended to be pretty outlandish, with huge, bulbous table lamps or spindly floor lamps being common. With lamp shades made from fiberglass or metal, they can still be found at reasonable prices for beginning collectors. Chalkware lamp bases in figural shapes became quite popular in children’s rooms as Disney characters rose in popularity. Mid-century lamps also took on cultural themes such as the “space race” to create some pretty unique planetary and “atomic” styles. Simple, straight lines and delicate parchment, with the use of geometrics, added to the changing times and changing culture of the 1960’s and retro look of the 1970’s. And, I’ll bet you remember the Lava Lamp and its captivating display of melting wax in hot oil.

No matter what style you are looking for, at Pickety Place, we carry a plethora of lamps including, mid-century swag lamps, stained glass lamps, Aladdin and Hurricane lamps, as well as Bohemian prism lamps. There’s sure to be a railroad or camping lantern and you might find a floor lamp, bulbous table lamp, rare pole lamp, sturdy desk lamp, or delicate Fairy lights!

When using an antique or older lamp, safety is advised. Always check the electrical wiring and plugs as they may have some fraying on the fabric wire cover and wire may be exposed, creating an extreme fire hazard. If the wires are cracked or made of flaky hard plastic, do not plug it in—replace the wires first. Re-wiring a lamp with new wire or new sockets will give your antique or vintage lamp many more years of use.

Enjoy using antique lamps for ambiance and let your light shine.