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
From Farm to Table, Dutch StyleWall Street Journal, December 17th
Bas den Herder is founder and owner of Den Herder Production House, or DHPH, a Dutch maker of bespoke furniture. Mr. den Herder builds designers' eccentric visions and realizes customers' unusual requests. Herman van Heusden for The Wall Street ...Read more
Enter the Design CityThe Nation, December 13th
The next shop, Kome Tong, has a delicate paper hanging-lamp called "From the Chandelier", made by its founder, Rattanaphol Taja. He painstakingly cuts the paper to form elaborate details, laminates it for durability and then folds it into an octagon on...Read more
Unique home decor at Originals showOttawa Sun, December 11th
It was in 1967 that Reiner Henneveld first designed animal keepsakes in Leather. Today his sons carry on his legacy with the instantly recognisable Reiner's Leather Ottomans. With animals such as Hippos, Rhinos, Bears, Pigs, Bulldogs, Elephants, Cow...Read more
24HRS LIGHT Is A Mobile Lamp With No Cable Or ButtonPSFK (blog), December 9th
The mobile LED lamp has a minimalist design and can function as either a table or desk lamp or as a hanging lamp. The lamp doesn't require cables or buttons and offers a simplified lighting system without sacrificing functionality. The power comes from...Read more
Provincial O'Hara home boasts views, ornate designTribune-Review, December 6th
A hanging lamp in that same room features monkeys enjoying bananas. “I just kind of like them,” Bette Lou Sorci said of the animals. She designed the home she and her husband, Nino, built 17 years ago. It's clear to see she also likes chandeliers...Read more
Credit Photograph by Raymond MeierThe New Yorker, December 5th
ten thousand objects, dating as far back as ancient Egypt. Today's artifact is, after all, yesterday's breakthrough. Take the elaborate French porcelain jewelry cabinet designed for King Charles X, pictured here near an Ingo Maurer hanging lamp...Read more
Spaces: Andy and Tanya RogersSan Antonio Express-News, November 21st
Unexpected furnishings, colors and accessories engage the eye throughout the bungalow. In the dining room, an ornately framed mirror reflects a vignette of plates and an antique hanging lamp. The mirror frame was gold when Tanya bought it for “$175...Read more
Hanging Lamp Glows Blue Thanks to Bioluminescent BacteriaPSFK, October 13th
During certain seasons, in some parts of the world, it's possible to witness ocean waves glowing a hypnotic shade of blue. Keen to share this experience with others, Dutch designer Teresa van Dongen has created a bioluminescent table lamp called Ambio...Read more