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.

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Recent News: Hanging Lamps

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Edison Bulb Light Ideas: 22 Floor, Pendant, Table Lamps
Trendir, October 9th

Edison bulb light ideas may have been around for a while but never have there been more creative table lamps, ceiling lamps, floor lamps and pendants. And bulbs! The bulbs themselves have matured into dozens of different styles, colors and designs...Read more

Town centre pelican sculpture stands above historic building dating back to 1849
Warrington Guardian, October 8th

WHEN walking through the town centre residents may notice a unique pelican figure standing above Buttermarket Street. But few will know the building located below is one of the town's most historic buildings, with its association with Warrington dating...Read more

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A mix of tables and booths dot the lobby with hanging lamp fixtures above them. There's the customary clanking of forks and knives on plates and the potent aroma of grease and cheese wafting from the kitchen into the dining room each time a server...Read more

Ireland Ghost: Is This Video Of A Supposed Poltergeist Haunting A House In ...
The Inquisitr, September 25th

The video that has since gone viral starts out innocuous enough, with the camera pointed at a hanging lamp in the middle of a kitchen. The lamp begins swaying gently, and then more forcefully, before a set of what look to be brooms fall against a door...Read more

Woman claiming 'most haunted house in Ireland' captures video of moving objects
Chron.com, September 23rd

In three cellphone videos posted between Sept. 15 and Sept. 22, Murphy shows objects mysteriously moving, seemingly of their own accord. Perhaps the strangest is a hanging lamp that swings vigorously back and forth for eight or 10 seconds and then...Read more

Art review: Lucy Puls' new show examines consumer-world castoffs
Sacramento Bee, September 17th

A large proportion of the show consists of floor sculptures that combine found objects – a hanging lamp, a television casing, a stainless steel sink and a phone charger, for example – with fool-the-eye elements made of photographs, paper and metal...Read more

James Ivory's Home Befits His Extraordinary Life
New York Times, September 11th

The director's early 19th-century mansion on the Hudson is where, for 40 years, he and his longtime friends and collaborators gathered to feast, drink, argue and make movie magic. At 87, he's still creating beauty. ONE THING YOU CAN SAY about James ...Read more

Lamp puts unique spin on pendant lighting
Duluth News Tribune, September 4th

To add to the Pinterest board, Amazon wish list, wedding registry or other "to buy" list: a Spokes hanging lamp from Foscarini. Inspired by antique Asian lanterns, birdcages and bicycle wheels, this contemporary-looking lighting fixture was designed by...Read more