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

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Railroad Private Car Hanging Double Student Oil Lamp Antique Dayton Mfg CoRare Victorian Enameled Peachblow Hanging Candle Lamp Nr!Vintage Riddle Gothic Art Deco Ceiling Chandelier Hanging Light Lamp FixtureC1892 Antique Victorian Retractable Ceiling Canopy For Hanging Oil Kerosene LampScandinavian Modern Hans Agne Jakobsson Hanging Lamp Light Sciolari Danish EraPink Brass Copper C1890 B&h Hanging Oil Lamp Frame 40 Prisms Good Extension FontCa. 1880s Pink Brass Ansonia Hanging Oil Lamp 30 Prisms Two Panel Font ExtensionAntique Victorian 1890 Hanging Oil Parlor LampLakeside Ltd. Budweiser 25'' Red Hanging Pool Table Fluorescent Bar Light/lampVintage Mid Century Artichoke Hanging Swag Pendant Lamp Light Retro GlobeularAntique Hobnail Hanging Hurricane Lamp Shade Frosted Glass Pink Peach Yellow Vintage French Original Vintners Pigeon Oil Lamp Wall Hanging Table Top ChimneyAntique Hanging Gas Light Lamp Fixture W/ Smoke Bell & 5" Fitter To RestoreVenetian Murano Latticino Caged Glass Hanging Wall Light Lamp Ceiling FixtureTent Light Fan Camping Lamp Outdoor Supply Hanging 18 Led Light Ceiling LanternAntique Brass Or Bronze Hanging Oil Lamp Font Holder Frame Part Lot AAntique Hanging Library Lamp Pull Down Unit W/ Smoke Bell Bird & Sun EmblemsSolar Power Garden Lights Outdoor Cornet Cone Led Lamp Hanging Lamp Lantern DropAntique 14'' Library/hanging Gwtw, Parlor Lamp FrameAntique 2 Angel Putti Cherub Cupid Figural Hanging Lamp Chandelier French Spelte~~~ Vtg Large Globe Amber Glass Mid Century Swag Lamp Hanging Light ~~~Vtg Ruby Red Optic Art Glass Swag Light Hanging Ceiling Lamp Mid Century Brass4 Vintage Crystal Globes & Prisms Hanging Swag Lamp Light Pair 1980sAntique Victorian Hanging Oil Lamp Shade Transferware 14" Diameter Kerosene Lamp13.7/8 Victorian Brass Parlor Hanging Kerosene Oil Lamp Shade Hand Painted GlassVintage Owl Swag Hanging Light/lamp Handmade? Ceramic Vintage Creators Rain Mineral Oil Motion Hanging Lamp Water Mill Waterfall Vintage Rattan Retro Swag Hanging Lamp Light ShadeVintage 1960's Lawnware Patio Tiki Outdoor Hanging Lantern Light Lamp 2310 UsaAntique Cast Iron And Brass Hanging Oil Lamp With Mercury Glass ReflectorVintage Blue Slag Glass Hanging Beaded Tulip LampAntique Brass Tassel Bottom Lamp Finial Hanging Light Fixture Part Chain PullAntique Hanging Gas Light Lamp Fixture 2 Burner Dual Control 6" FitterAntique Pagoda House Design Hanging Lantern Lamp Buddha Asian Art Deco Tin GoldPrimitive Grease Fat- Whale Oil- Hanging Betty Lamp Hand Forged 4-way Flame NrGrape Cluster Swag Lamp Lucite Acrylic Hanging Light Green & Blue Vintage Retro Pair Of Wall Sconce Oil Lamps Hanging Bracket W/removable Lamps Made In GermanyAntique Hanging Gas Light Lamp Fixture Bridge 4" Fitter To RestoreAntique Hanging Gas Light Lamp Harp Fixture To Restore13” X 15” Glass Brass Hanging Lamp – Untested Antique Vintage Tiffany Stained Slag Glass Hanging Ceiling Chandelier Lamp RareVeritas Hanging Suspension Oil LampLarge Vtg Mid Century 3 Tier Amber Glass Hanging Swag Light/lampAntique Brass Or Bronze Hanging Oil Lamp Font Holder Frame Part Lot BAssortment Of 7 Vintage Miniature Oil Lamps One P&a Acorn Burner, Hanging, Antique Brass Or Copper Crown Ring Hanging Library Oil Lamp Part 5 1/8" Id LotgSolar Protable Led Outdoor Power Hanging Camping Lantern Lamp Light Waterproof Solar Power Garden Outdoor Light Cornet Cone Led Hanging Lantern Lamp Light Rare Vintage Schlitz 1960s Swag 3 Light Hanging LampVtg Hanging Swag Lamp Amber Ceiling Light Shade Vtg Pair Glass Lamp Shades Vtg Mineral Oil Rain Swag Lamp Drip Motion Hanging Light GoddessAntique Brass Oil Hanging Saloon Lamp Turned Electric Scotts Lamp Co. 19th Cen.Vintage Fish / Turtle Trap Steampunk Industrial Make A Cool Hanging LampHobby Hill ~ Hanging Wall Art Picture Painting Electric Lamp Light ~ 14.5" BrassAntique Porcelain Vase Oil Lamp Font Drop In Vase Banquet Hanging Library Lamp 20 Blue Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 20mmCollapsible Cranking Led Travel Tent Lantern Usb Flashlights Torch Hanging LampsEb1148 Vtg Patio Deck Camping Rv Swag Hanging Lamp Mood Light Lawnware 70sEdison Vintage Pendant Lights Chandelier Rustic Wire Cage Hanging Ceiling Lamps5 Pcs Clear Glass Crystal Chandelier Lamp Part Prisms Hanging Cone Pendants 38mm

Recent News: Hanging Lamps

Source: Google News

Sun King Pro portable solar charger and light
The Gadgeteer, June 30th

When you're hiking or camping, you don't want to have to carry any extra gear, so it's nice when something can serve double duty. The Sun King Pro can serve as a standing lamp, a hanging lamp, a hand-held light, and as an emergency battery for your ...Read more

Batman: Arkham Knight Review — The Dark Knight Returns
Gosu Tech, June 29th

In addition to the usual strikes, counters, beatdowns, and aerial evades, Batman can now perform contextual environmental takedowns such as slamming a foe into a fuse box or dropping a hanging lamp on them. The coolest new feature however is definitely ...Read more

KFAI's 'Jet Set Planet' unearths music that can make you cringe, but also ...
Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 27th

A 6-foot island totem anchored a corner lit by a hanging lamp festooned with scallop shells. “This is one of the most fun things to do,” Leslie said after the first sip. “Listen to music and drink cocktails at a bar.” A basement room of the New Hope...Read more

'Batman: Arkham Knight' Review: Beautiful If You Stand Perfectly Still And Squint
The Workprint, June 26th

With the right button combo you can jump up, grab a hanging lamp, and smash it over the heads of your totally-not-dead foes. The best new combat feature is the ability to fight alongside (or fight as) Batman's allies. Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing all...Read more

Designers Put Cork in It
Wall Street Journal, June 25th

CORK MAY HAVE lost a few battles in the wine world, with the rise of screw caps and plastic stoppers, but it's beginning to win the war on the home front, as top designers use the tree bark to create pieces that are not only sustainable, but covetable...Read more

SULI, the portable sun, wants to change how you use light
Techly, June 23rd

It can also be fastened to 3D-printed accessories to turn it into other types of lighting systems like a reading lamp, a hanging lamp, or even a bike light. The SULI needs to be charged under the sun for up to 12 hours, and once it's fully charged it...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