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”)
Texans Incorporated: The History of a Lamp Company
The Lamps of H. G. McFaddin
Fairy Lamp Club
Gas Pressure Lanterns, Lamps and Stoves
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Hanging Lamps
Source: Google News
Shedding a little light on the subjectThe Province, September 16th
At the same time, the staging details take on a more circular shape, as table settings reflect the shapes of a display on a white built-in unit, which in turn mirror the circular hanging lamp that resembles a strobe light. Nordin says the effect with...Read more
D.Light Solar: Making the World a Brighter PlaceNanalyze, September 16th
Social responsible investing (SRI) is any investing strategy that looks to maximize financial return and social good. Maximizing social good often involves targeting the less fortunate in this world and can be very lucrative. “Sell to the poor and live...Read more
Light through the rubbleVisayan Daily Star, September 11th
The traditional pattern of the fabric offers a welcome contrast to the contemporary silhouette of the hanging lamp. The Tubigon Lamp comes in two sizes, large and small. Fabric colors and patterns vary making the lamps rare if not unique finds. La...Read more
Art exhibit showcases sculpture, lighting inspired by NatureCoast Weekend, September 10th
"Hanging Lamp" by Lâm Qu?ng and Kestrel Gates at RiverSea Gallery, is made of abaca paper over wire armature and inspired by Korean joomchi. Art exhibit showcases sculpture, lighting inspired by Nature. Submitted photo ...Read more
House of the DayCurbed National, September 9th
I'd buy the place just for the pale pink hanging-lamp thing. It's precious! Like a little newborn baby hat for your ceiling. By Kate683. 09/11/14 04:09 AM. Too industrial looking. Doesn't fit the area at all. Might be nice in a more urban location...Read more
Huggable Lamps Crush to Customized ShapesPSFK, August 27th
The unique shape created out of the hanging lamp helps add an ethereal quality to the space the lamp occupies. The way the Proplamp is crushed or crumpled also helps vary the lighting effect that each lamp provides. The owners of the Proplamp are ...Read more
Bethesda business helps inspire art studentsGazette.Net: Maryland Community News Online, August 20th
On Monday, the children discussed the relative comfort of different mid-century modern seating options, saw a table designed by the architect of Dulles International Airport and talked about how one designer had made a hanging lamp shade by spinning ...Read more