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

Turn Your Favorite Novel Into a Lampshade
PSFK, October 16th

To aid books' fight for function, Danish design group Studio Intussen has designed the Booklamp, a hanging lamp that allows users to rest their favorite book atop it, transforming literature into a lampshade. A whimsical balance beam for your favorite...Read more

Winners of the Moët Hennessy PAD prize announced
Telegraph.co.uk, October 14th

Ceiling Light designed in 1949 by Italian architect and designer Carlo Mollino won the Best 20th Century Decorative Arts award. This unique hanging lamp made of rectangular wooden frames, glass panels and brass is exhibited by Galerie Downtown...Read more

Kit in a tin! The perfect accessories package for festivals and camping
SWNS, October 14th

With carry cord and flip function you can even turn it into a hanging lamp. Our purple tipped matches are compact and great for the campfire or BBQ and there is even a pack of tissues included to finish off your kit, not forgetting a useful zip seal...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

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Relaxing under the Tuscan sun
The West Australian, September 28th

The nearby Etruscan Academy Museum in the 13th century Palazzo Casali is reputed to hold the world's finest collection of Etruscan artefacts, including significant bronzes and a 4th century hanging lamp. The Etruscans inhabited the region from 600BC...Read more

Debbie Travis: Take cue from kids' rooms
San Jose Mercury News, September 25th

I recently came across an inviting, energetic kid's room with bright crayon-box colors everywhere -- a hot-orange shade on a hanging lamp, a lemon-yellow bedside light, a burnt-orange desk chair, striped bedding and a bold piece of art on the wall. The...Read more

Californians' four hangouts capture full diversity of the state's pleasures
Columbus Dispatch, September 21st

The men did little more than chlorinate the pool, install the Eero Saarinen tulip table and the George Nelson hanging lamp and mix themselves a cocktail. Well, OK, the pink terrazzo tile in the foyer was damaged and had to be replaced, and the couple...Read more