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

Source: Google News

Luz Flashlight is a Multi-purpose LED Light that Offers Premium Performance in ...
Press Release Rocket, March 2nd

The real appeal of the Luz Flashlight lies in its all-purpose design. In just seconds, this product can be converted into a standing light source on a rigid tripod (Luzpod), a hanging lamp with an integrated hook and drop line (Luzhook), or a LED...Read more

Bring your own everything: experiencing King Tut's
UTDailyBeacon.com, February 24th

Above each booth is a low-hanging lamp, which could easily be dangerous if you're too tall and trying to lean across the table. Seham Girgis, who opened the restaurant with her husband Monir, greeted us with menus and offered glasses for the bubbly we ...Read more

Technical School Honors Its 100 Year Anniversary
Cape May County Herald (press release), February 15th

The classroom was adorned with a rich variety of early 20th century furniture and objects including an antique telephone, a hanging lamp and a typewriter from that era, thus lending authenticity to the environment and experience. Dennison, as...Read more

Second to Isaac Newton, First at Christie's
Maine Antique Digest, February 7th

Using his pulse to time the swings of a hanging lamp in the Pisa cathedral, he realized that the duration of each swing was the same, no matter how wide an arc the lamp traveled. Decades later in 1657, the Dutchman Huygens was the first to apply the ...Read more

Renewed Resources: Recycled-shade hanging lamp
LancasterOnline, February 4th

Recycled paper that resembles the coarse cardboard egg cartons we're all familiar with forms the shade for this hanging lamp found at MoMA's online store. Italian designer Valentina Carretta's pleated chandelier-style lamp, for Seletti, has a...Read more

Old hotel items to be auctioned Thursday
Glens Falls Post-Star, February 3rd

WHITE CREEK -- Dozens of items from the former Cambridge Hotel will be up for auction beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Eagle Bridge Auctions, 152 State Route 67 in Eagle Bridge. Proceeds from those items will go to Cambridge United Presbyterian ...Read more

Get Enchanted By Scout Paré-Phillips and Her Video for "Heed The Call"
Noisey (blog), February 3rd

Elusive chanteuse Scout Paré-Phillips, formerly of Baltimore and American Gothic balladeers The Sterling Sisters is ready to premiere her debut solo album. Heed The Call (out on Noisey perennial favorites Dais Records on Feb 24th, order yours) is ten ...Read more

Hanging Lamp Glows Blue Thanks to Bioluminescent Bacteria
PSFK, 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