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    

Antique Victorian Brass Hanging Parlor Oil Lamp W Hp Floral Shade RosesKosmos Brenner Antique Victorian Majolica Oil Kerosene Hanging Lamp ChandelierAntique Ornate Brass Jeweled Hanging Library Oil Lamp Piece Chain Frame PartsAntique Retractable Hanging Oil Lamp / Chandelier Cranberry/white/swirl/pearlPink Brass Geometric Shade Ca. 1880s Hanging Oil Lamp 30 Prisms Pittsburgh LabelAntique Bradley & Hubbard Oil Kerosene Light # 96 Vtg Country Store Hanging LampRare Wwii Anderson Shelter Oil Lamp With Wick, Hanging Lamp For Air Raid ShelterApple Embossed Miller Cd Hanging Chandelier Bracket Lamp Font Holds Oil Works!Rare Coleman Arc 250 Lantern Hanging Gas Outside Lamp System Antique Vintage Vintage Double Swag Light Hanging Lamp Ice Blue Crystal Clear Glass GlobesVintage Decorated Brass Parlor Oil Hanging Lamp With White Opal Shade & Prisms Hollywood Regency Amber Crackle Glass Ufo Vintage Swag Lamp Hanging LightVintage Kerosene Ceiling Hanging Oil Lamp Motor Restoration Part 1892 B&hAntique 1890's Faceted Glass Jewels Hanging Oil Parlor Lamp Jeweled Brass FrameAntique Or Vintage---b&h--- Brass Hanging Oil Lamp---frame PartsHanging Victorian Brass Lamp PartsAntique Aladdin Moonstone Model B Hanging Wall Table Lamp Fount & Burner FarmHuge Lot Cast Iron Hanging Bracket Sconce Oil Lamp Back Wall Plates One Hoot Owl20 Vintage Green Cut Glass 3 3/4" Spear Lamp Prisms Hanging Library Oil Lamp Antique Opalescent Hanging Library Lamp Shade Basket Weave Victorian 19th Century Rochester Brass Hanging Store Saloon Kerosene Oil Lamp Vintage Lucite Hanging Chandelier Lamp Light Retro Mid Century Mod By Moe LightLot Of 11 Hanging Library Fixture Oil Lamp Smoke Bell Parts Pink Brass PatternedHanging Lamp,vintage Tiffany-style Shade, Beautifully Set In Browns & CreamRare And Beautiful Ornate French Antique Cast Iron Hanging Oil Lamp With KnightsLot Of 6 Ca.1890s Fancy Brass Hanging Library Oil Lamp Shade Crown Leveler RingsLot Of Old Angle Ny Hanging Bracket Fixture Oil Lamp Tank Burner Leveler Parts1 Of 3 - 1920's Antique Art Deco Hanging Light Fixture Pendant Lamp Ceiling LampVintage Lamp Shade Milk Glass Hobnail 10" Oil Kerosene Table Parlor HangingVintage Mid Century Modern Dome Pendant Hanging Light LampVintage Slant Hanging Parlor Library Oil Kerosene Lamp Hand Painted Shade 14" VgLot Of Misc. Antique Brass Hanging Lamp Project Parts, Lamp Holder, Smoke BellsVictorian Ornate Cupids Brass Hanging Kerosene / Oil Lamp W/ Floral Shade & FontKerosene Oil Gas White Milk Glass 14 Inch Dome Hanging Library Lamp ShadeAntique Cranberry Opalescent Glass Globe Hanging Hall Light Lamp CeilingLot Of 12 Large 7" Tri-side Spear Tip Chandelier/hanging Lamp Crystal PrismsAntique Clear Glass Wall Hanging Kerosene Oil Lamp With Brass Reflector Vintage Hanging Lamp Light With Chain And PlugLot Of 3 Fancy Brass Hanging Library Oil Lamp Frame Brackets Center Draft Font 1 Of 3 - Antique Art Deco Hanging Light Fixture With Ring Shade Pendant LampVintage Large Ship Style Oil Lantern, Solid Brass Lamp, Hanging Or Table, Vintage/ Antique Cranberry/ruby Red Quilt Pattern Hanging Or Table Oil Lamp FontBlue Opalescent Swirl Glass Hanging Or Table Oil Lamp Font - No Reserve!George Nelson Bubble Lamp By Modernica Crisscross Saucer Hanging Ceiling LampAntique Hp 14" Glass Shade For Hanging Library Oil LampOrnate Art Deco Ceiling Light Lamp Ceiling Chandelier Hanging Fixture Vintage A1 Of 3 - Antique Art Deco Pendant Lamp Ceiling Light Fixture Hanging Lamp RingsBoxlot 6 Hanging Library Oil Lamp Ceiling Extension Caps B&h Miller Angle Fancy Vtg Medieval Interior Hanging Swag Lamp Brass & Stained GlassModern 6light E14 Pendant Lamp Hanging Fixture Ceiling Chain Chandelier Us StockAntique Kerosene Oil Lamp Tank Font W/ Burner For Hanging /wall Bracket-glassVintage Shakey's Pizza Parlor Hanging Lamp 18"20 Vintage Hanging 4 " Drop Crystal Glass Prisms Lamp Chandelier Parts10pcs Lot Clear Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Hanging Drops Pendants 50mmVintage Lucite Hanging Chandelier Lamp Light Mid Century Mod 1960's RetroJohn Scott Hanging Brass Vintage Oil Lamp Marked England Converted To ElectrictVintage Wood Brass Wagon Wheel 3 Light 18" Ceiling Hanging Lamp Rustic Cabin DecVintage Mid-century Hanging/swag White Ball Lamp Swag Lamp Hanging Light With 15 Foot Long Plug In Cord With On/off SwitchVintage Pop Art Mid Century Made In Italy Murano Modern Hanging Lamp Light Bulb

Recent News: Hanging Lamps

Source: Google News

The Pizza Parlor closes, celebrates final night of business
Battle Creek Enquirer, September 30th

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

Lecture by Sherene Seikaly
Jadaliyya, September 7th

Realist depictions—such as the flower and hanging lamp in A Rose for Peace—signal objects (or concepts) that remain intact irrespective of how the artist's narrative develops. Diab uses both methods of representation when painting the soldier's arms, ...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

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

GREEN LIGHT: Which came first: The chicken, the egg — or the egg carton, or the lamp? 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...Read more