Hanging lamps, which include everything from single pendants to elaborate chandeliers, have illuminated interior spaces for thousands of years. The earliest examples were made of clay and fueled by animal fat. Later, oil was used to fire bronze or glass fixtures.

By the Middle Ages, metal chandelier-like fixtures called polycandelons were hung from the ceilings of churches and other public structures. Some held bowls filled with oil and wicks while others were designed for candles. In fact, the word “chandelier” has its roots in the Latin word for “candle.” Early chandeliers and polycandelons were usually attached to a rope or cable that was looped through a pulley so they could be lowered to be lit, raised into position, then lowered again so candles and wicks could be snuffed.

Gas lamps, which were introduced in the early 1800s, are normally associated with sconces, but hanging gas lamps, called gasoliers, were also used in homes that could afford this newfangled technology. Next came kerosene in 1857. Again, even though we associate kerosene lamps with the chimney-style table lamps made by Aladdin and others, the fuel was also used in hanging Victorian Era lamps.

Because of the heat generated by kerosene and gas lamps, flames were contained by etched glass of various colors—from frosted white to ruby red to multicolored slag—while the lamp’s hardware was typically made of brass. There must have been concerns at the time about the safety of kerosene lamps since they were often advertised as being “non-explosive,” but kerosene lamps burned brighter than gas, so for many the risk was worth it.

While some 19th-century kerosene lamps hung from chains, others were suspended by decorative rods that, in turn, supported a pair, or pairs, of arms. Because kerosene chandeliers required daily maintenance, a pulley was often secreted inside the decorative plate that also hid the lamp’s connection to the ceiling.

As the 20th century dawned and electricity became ubiquitous, many gasoliers and chandeliers were retrofitted. Other types of new hanging lamps included the so-called pan chandeliers, whose light sources were placed at the ends their multiple arms. Then there were hanging lamps that featured Tiffany-like shades over their lights, or clear prismatic glass shades that sent light streaming throughout a room.

The advantage of new hanging lamps, as opposed to retrofitted ones, was that their designs weren't constrained by the presence of fire. Thus, Art Nouveau lamps could be as naturalistic and free-flowing as their designers demanded, while Art Deco fixtures in brushed metal could be accented by shades shaped like bongo drums. By the 1950s and ’60s, the space-age look of Mid-century Modern lamps suggested starbursts and flying saucers, which would hover benignly over nuclear families enjoying meals at their Danish modern dining tables.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Lampworks

The Lampworks

Lamp collector and dealer Dan Edminster has put together an incredible reference site on antique lamps and related … [read review or visit site]

Texans Incorporated: The History of a Lamp Company

Texans Incorporated: The History of a Lamp Company

Mark Stevens has created an impressive living memorial to Texans Inc., a 20th century Texas manufacturer of ceramic… [read review or visit site]

The Lamps of H. G. McFaddin

The Lamps of H. G. McFaddin

Bruce Bleier's tribute to the Emeralite and Bellova lampshades made from Czech glass and popularized and distribute… [read review or visit site]

Fairy Lamp Club

Fairy Lamp Club

This incredible site is a stunning showcase for Victorian and contemporary fairy lamps, a style of lamp with a glas… [read review or visit site]

Gas Pressure Lanterns, Lamps and Stoves

Gas Pressure Lanterns, Lamps and Stoves

Terry Marsh’s beautiful showcase of gas-pressure lanterns, lamps, stoves, irons, and heaters from the 1920s o… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

6 Pcs Solar Chinese Hanging Lanterns Lamp Outdoor Light F Weding Party DecorVintage Black Forest Style Stained Glass Hanging Acorn Pendant Chandelier LampC1880s Victorian Hanging Oil Lamp Hall Hallway Pink Opalescent Swirl ShadeC.1880's Fancy Brass Center Draft Parlor Banquet Hanging Gwtw Oil Lamp Font NrAntique Kerosene Six Lamp Hanging ChandelierGreat Antique Victorian Hanging Green Slag Glass Lamp Bronze/copper Design Vintage 1960's Mid Century Hollywood Regency Gilt Tole Hanging Swag Lotus Lamp Kerosene Oil Hanging Banquet Lamp Font PartsVintage Blue Bubble Glass Globe Swag Lamp Hanging Light Fixture W/ 17' Chain Vintage Mid Century Lucite Spaghetti Chunk Swag Hanging Light Lamp Fixture Handlan St.louis Usa,railroad Tail End Marker Lamp ,hanging Lantern Antique OrigAntique Opalescent Striped Cranberry Glass Hanging Oil Lamp Shade Unusual DesignAntique Primitive Tin 4 Candle Holder Hanging Lamp ChandelierFrench Antique Art Nouveau Solid Bronze Hanging Oil Lamp Kerosene & Elec. OptionOld Antique Ornate Brass Hanging 2 Arm Angle Lamp Milk Glass Shade Clear ElbowAladdin Nickel Plated #12 Font And Burner For An Aladdin 4 Post Hanging LampRare Antique 1800 Victorian Kerosene Lamp Light 2 Arm Hanging Bracket ChandelierStunning 19thc Wood Oak Wood Male Corbel With Hanging Glass & Brass Lamp C1880Antique B&h Brass Hanging Oil Lamp Frame PartsVintage Cranberry Opalescent Coin Dot Bell Hanging Lamp Shade Fenton? Exc Nr Kerosene Oil Shade Rings For Hanging Lamp---banquet---table1900's Antique Arts& Craft Slag Glass Mission Hanging Lamp Light Fixture Kerosene Oil Shade Rings For Hanging Lamp---banquet---tableAntique German Lithophane Hanging Lamp (shade) Or Lantern With 5 PanelsFancy Brass Cap Hanging Library Oil Lamp Ceiling Fixture Suspension ExtensionPortable 7led Solar Powered Waterproof Hanging Light Outdoor Camping Lanter LampVintage Antique Cast Iron Oil Lamp With Hanging Wall Holder And BracketVintage;mid - Century Green Glass Globe Ceiling Hanging Swag Lamp LightBeautiful Ornate 1892 Miller Hanging Brass Library Oil Lamp W/chimneyAntique Mission Oak Arts And Crafts Hanging Light Lamp Shade Slag Glass ProjectLarge 19th C Antique Victorian Aesthetic Acid Etched Hanging Oil Gas Lamp ShadeReverse Painted Hanging Lamp Shade Signed K R Vintage Aladdin Lamp Co. Tilt Hanging Frame For #12 And Model "b" Fonts10 Vintage Hanging French Large Drop Crystal Glass Prism Lamp Chandelier Part10 Vintage Hanging French U-drop Crystal Glass Prism Lamp Part Kerosene Oil RepaVintage Retro 1970s Red Glass Globe Swag Lamp Ball Hanging Light With Diffuser1 Baby Vintage Blue Aqua Brass Hanging Lamp Chandelier Crystal Glass PrismsVintage;retro Ceiling Red Metal Hanging Swag LampVtg Amber Swag Light Pendant Hanging Lamp Retro Cylinder Shape Rough Texture10 Vintage Hanging French Large Drop Crystal Glass Prisms Lamp Chandelier PartsVintage Mid Century Modern Lucite Red Green Grapes Hanging Swag Lamp Chandelier Vintage Lawnware Hanging Swag Light Patio Rv Lamp Camper Lighting1 Baby Vintage Blue Aqua Brass Hanging Lamp Chandelier Crystal Glass PrismsVtg Homco Home Interior Big Hanging Lantern Lamp Post Planter Wall Pocket SconceAntique Vintage Crystal & Brass Table Lamp 16 5 Inch Hanging Crystals ElectricAntique Cut Glass Crystal Prism For Luster Chandelier Solar Banquet Hanging LampAntique Lamp - Custard Glass Slip Shade Hanging Ceiling Light - No ReserveAntique Hanging Ornate Lamp Part Kerosene Oil Opalescent Hanging LampAntique Oil Lamp Cast Iron Mercury Glass Reflector Hanging Lamp BracketVintage Mid Century Gothic Wrought Iron Stained Amber Glass Hanging Lamp 13" Ht2 X Led Solar Candle Lamp Hanging Lantern Light Garden Yard Auto Turn OffLarkin Kerosene Hanging LampPlugin Swag Jeweled Filigree Hollywood Regency Hanging Lamp Chandelier VintageVictorian Dome Shade Hanging Light Fixture Lamp Urn & Drape Ceiling Conopy With Retractable Chain For A Hanging Alladin LampVtg. Neptune Oil Lamp, Brass Marine Ships Hanging Pole Mount LightAntique Hand Forged Wrought Iron Whale Oil Miners Betty Lamp 4 Wick HangingAntique Hanging Kerosene Oil Library Lamp Font And Arm PartsVtg Light Hanging Lamp Mid Century Danish Modern Teak Swag Eames Atomic Pendant

Recent News: Hanging Lamps

Source: Google News

Marset Adds Hazy Day to its Collection
Dexigner, July 20th

As a hanging lamp, the opal glass ball fades from a sandy matte to a shiny transparent finish at the small curvature that rounds out the lampshade. This detail breaks up the geometry of the sphere as well as highlights the glassblowing technique used...Read more

Estate Sale Roundup: July 18-20: Not snow nor rain nor dark of night can keep ...
Austin Chronicle, July 18th

Vaseline glassware; a lot of lamps; Tiffany-style Coca Cola hanging lamp; antique heavy brass bed with mattress; marble-top round table and a small marble top display table. Japanese Geisha Kimono Furisode Uchikake solo robe design; Cash, debit/credit ...Read more

Look to Morocco for luxury décor
Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 12th

Look to Morocco for luxury décor. web1_copy_ATHOME-VICKIPAYNE-MOROCCO-1-LA.jpg. Ricardo DeAratanha/McClatch-Tribune News Medea A Moroccan hanging lamp among citrus in a garden. This type of lamp also could be hung indoors...Read more

Jan's must reads: Forget light rail — I want my own closet; top books to ...
Austin Business Journal (blog), July 11th

The slideshow of Christina Simon's bungalow in Northeast Austin features a host of quirky combinations from a Moroccan inspired hanging lamp to deer antlers to a fuschia-colored easy chair. I could see spending my afternoon at her art desk, too...Read more

No gilding this lily
Omaha World-Herald, July 9th

In turn, the flower droops just slightly to provide the effect of an ornate hanging lamp — talk about disco decor. Garabrandt's notes show a Turk's cap lily was found in the Knull Prairie during restoration work at Neale Woods, Fontenelle Forest's...Read more

Dead Girls as Objects, or the 'Ick' in Lovesick
New York Times, July 8th

“Inside the tiny white house, he sat at the head of the table, listening to the sea gulls, his stare fettered from below by the white lace tablecloth, whose flower-whorled spiderweb knew how to trap his eyes, and occluded by the low-hanging lamp, whose...Read more

O'Reilly: The unceasing march of time
Newsday, June 28th

We sat in our old family pew, and I found myself gazing up at the very same hanging lamp I constantly looked up at as a boy. The lamp and the smell of the church triggered a like-yesterday memory of Msgr. James Wilders, a long-serving pastor at the...Read more

10 Things to Do with a Lidless Teapot
KAALtv.com, June 25th

Or make a hanging lamp , with the bulb emerging from the upside-down teapot. 5. Planter or Cachepot. Andesine/flickr. If you are of the persuasion who believes more is better when it comes to houseplants, stash a few succulents in your lidless teapot...Read more