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    

Oil Gas Lamp Shade ~ Hanging Cast Font Holder ~ Aladdin ~ Antique LightingC 1895 Antique Angle Mfg Co. Double Oil Kerosene Leaf & Vine Hanging Lamp YqzShiny B&h Bradley Hubbard Parlor Hanging Student Oil Lamp Snuffer Duplex Burner Fancy Miller Hornberger Patent Center Draft Oil Lamp Parlor Gwtw Hanging FontArt Deco Hanging Slip Light/lamp Cast Fixture,embossed Glass Amber Shade,16"Vintage French Original Vintners Olympe Oil Lamp Wall Hanging Table Top Snuffer Set Hamm's Beer Light Wall Hanging Sign Sconce Globe Lamp Pair Canoe 1960sAntique Bradley & Hubbard Victorian Cast Iron Hanging Oil Lamp N/r 99.95Dl Antique B&h Hanging Library Oil Lamp Motor & Brass Canopy Bradley & HubbardAntique Hanging Cranberry Swirl Glass Library Parlor Candle Lamp Electrified YqzVtg Wrought Iron Amber Glass Hanging Light Lamp Swag Goth Spanish Black Antique Antique Victorian Brass Hanging Lamp Jewel Shade Oil BurnerVtg Heavy Hanging Mcm Super Chunky Lucite Swag Lamp 17.5" Tall 60s Mid CenturyVintage Retro Swag Lamp Wood Glass Chain Frosted Globe Tube Shape Hanging LightBig C1890 Pittsburgh Embossed Country Store Saloon Hanging Center Draft Oil LampAntique Victorian Cranberry Swirl Hanging Parlor Lamp ~no Rsrv~Lot Of 2 Fancy Embossed B&h Hanging Bracket Center Draft Oil Lamp Fonts PartsMost Attractive Victorian Glass Hanging Or Desk Lamp Shade - Stag DecorationVintage 30" Hanging Swag Motion Oil Rain Lamp 70's Greek Goddess Very NiceDouble Lamp Hanging Sconce Chandelier Gas Oil Kerosene Cast Iron 21 InchesVtg Wrought Iron Amber Glass Hanging Light Lamp Swag Goth Spanish Old Antique Vintage Mid Century Amber Glass Swag Lamp Retro Hanging Light With DiffuserLovely Hanging Antique Dutch Cherubs Oil Lamp~victorian Antique Hanging Oil Kerosene Lamp Light Fixture Chandelier Pull Down~Antique 1920's Art Deco 5 Light Metal Ceiling Fixture Hanging Chandelier LampArts & Crafts Art Nouveau Hanging Swag Slag Glass Lamp Shade Gilbert Cord ChainPair/2 Vintage Hanging Lantern~oil/kerosene Lamp Brass/copper Amber Glass Shade25 Blue Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Pendants 38mm 1908aVintage Mcgill Hanging Lamp Bakelite Drop Trouble Light Steam Punk Decor Nice!!Vtg Mid Century Amber Glass Hanging Swag Lamp Hollywood Regency DiffuserOld Hanging Lamp Brass Font The B & H Antique Vintage Light Library Part Oil10 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 38mmOld China Superb Handmade Usable 1 Set Double Hanging Usable Oil Lamp Ot4dm0525 Pink Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Pendants 38mm 1905aLarge 50cm Black Rattan Pendant Light Modern Round Hanging Cane Timber Lamp Wood80 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Part Hanging Drop Pendants 55mm1 Pcs Clear Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Part Hanging Drop Pendant 75mmVtg Art Deco Hanging Lamp Light Custard Glass Shade Fixture Ceiling ChandelierSwirly Amber Glass Swag Lamp Vintage Hanging Light10pcs Clear Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Hanging Drops Pendants 50mm 5 Champagne Crystal Glass Chandelier Lamp Part Ball Prisms Hanging Pendant 30mmAntique Hanging Library Parlor Lamp Part Ornate Brass & Cast Iron Glass 14" Shade Vintage For Oil/hanging? Lamp Handpainted Floral & FeathersVintage Nude Lady Goddess Hanging Rain Lamp Bronze Statue!Antique Bronze Arts & Crafts Hanging Lamp Chandelier Ceiling Light Acanthus Pan~Heilman's Old Style Beer Hanging Lamp20 Pcs Lilac Glass Crystal Chandelier Lamp Prisms Part Drop Hanging Pendant 55mmLot Of 3 Dollhouse Miniature House Tulip Hanging Lamps Lights Cir Kit Nip White50 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 38mm10 Rainbow Maker Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Hanging Pendants 50mmExtra Large Antique Victorian/arts & Crafts/ Mission Fabric Hanging Lamp Shade Vintage Jeweled Lawnware Swag Tiki Rv Hanging Lamp Light 11 X 11Vtg 9" Lawnware Lighted Hanging Swag Lamp Tiki Light Retro Rv Camping Patio 10 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 30mmVintage Mid Century Hanging Swag Glass LampVintage Mid Century Modern Hanging Swag Lamp Light Eames Era Metal Wood ChainVintage Rose Stained Glass Hanging Lamp Light Leaded Shade Chandelier Lucite?Old, 1800's Brass Hanging Kerosene Lamp FrameRetro Mid Century Modern Amber Quilted Glass Lamp Shade Globe Hanging Swag Lamp10 Blue Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Part Hanging Drops Pendants 3.7''

Recent News: Hanging Lamps

Source: Google News

PUBLIC SALES: French, Oriental bedroom furniture draws bids
LancasterOnline, April 19th

There were 434 registered bidders in attendance. Several items and prices included: cranberry lusters, $210; a marble match holder, $250; a hanging lamp, $260; a large Hummel figurine, $260; two large Hummel figurines, $390; a set of Johnson Bros...Read more

Review: In 'Flamenco Sin Título,' the Many Sides of Olga Pericet
New York Times, April 14th

The stage is undecorated except for a hanging lamp and a chair for Ms. Jiménez, whose lush playing is a highlight of the night. More elaborate visuals come in the form of Ms. Pericet's costumes, which include two sumptuous red dresses: one with an ...Read more

Store Closing in Honesdale After Three Decades
wnep.com, April 2nd

Country Dawn used to have locations in the Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Mount Pocono areas. Now, longtime customers are learning the remaining store in Honesdale will close in May. Country Dawn gift shop employee Joann Ostrander took down a hanging ...Read more

Fine Arts: 4th annual Artists of Yardley exhibit on display
NJ.com, April 1st

It captures the moment in time when a white hanging lamp with streamers hung by an open black doorway casts its shadow on the stone wall behind. This had to have happened for only a short while and, lucky for us viewers, photographer Ed Nyul was there ...Read more

Gujarat's Champions of Kerala Cuisine
The New Indian Express, March 26th

“Being a multi-cuisine restaurant, we have not themed the décor but we have added antique Thooku-vilakku (hanging lamp) in front of one of the columns and two elephant caparisons are hung in the two corners that suggest that this restaurant offers...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

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

Numerouno: A sleek hanging lamp made from cardboard
Gizmag, November 17th

German designer Johannes Kiessler has created a sleek hanging lamp which is predominantly made from cardboard. Dubbed, Numerouno, the eco-friendly lamp weighs a mere 600 g (21 oz) and features a low consumption 21 W fluorescent tube that emits ...Read more