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    

Aladdin Hanging Lamp W 416 Shade Electrified No Reserve1960s Space Age Danish Modern Ufo Hanging Lamp Fixture Mid Century VintageThree Burner Angle Hanging Oil Lamp, Original Finish, Nice Lamp Pat. In The UsaAntique Iron Horse Hanging Oil Lamp Frame And Shade HolderRetro Styled Machine Age Hanging Pendant Light Cage Lamp Urban Bulkhead Sb1Rare Civil War Era Camp Brass Oil Lamp With Hanging HandleAntique Kerosene Hanging Lamp Pink & White Opalescent Hobnail Glass ShadeVictorian Brass Frame Kerosene Oil Hanging Library Lamp With Pink Opaline ShadeFab & Rare *blue Star* Crackle Glass Swag Lamp Vintage Hanging LightVintage Old Style Beer Keg Sign Hanging Lamp Heileman's Bar LightPetite Metal Filigree & Glass Jewels Swag Lamp Vintage Hanging LightVntg Mid Century Bullet Shade Hanging Swag 5 Tier Lamp Light Ceiling Chandelier 7 Kerosene Oil Cast Iron Font Cup Holders Bracket Hanging Chandelier LampVintage French Original Brass Vintners Clamfor Oil Lamp Wall Hanging Table TopSuper Antique Brass Wall Hanging Bracket/ Hook - "dl" France_(lamp/plant/gong)1880s Antique Victorian Hanging Parlor Oil Lamp Chandelier Gwtw W Crystal PrismsUnique Colorful Vtg Hanging Leaded Stained Glass Swag Lamp Light VgcVintage Antique "the Juno Lamp Co" Country Store Saloon Hanging Oil Lamp FontVintage 1960's Mid Century Eames Gold/orange Acrylic Lucite Hanging Swag Lamp Beautiful Antique Cranberry Hanging Oil Kerosene Parlor Lamp ShadeAntique Vintage Mission Arts & Crafts Hanging Slag Glass Ceiling Light Lamp Early Antique* Small Tin* Hanging Oil Lamp *good Condition* No ReserveAntique White Milk Glass Smoke Bell Oil Kerosene Hanging Lamp Ruffled Edge2- Vtg Aladdin Nickel Plated Kerosene/oil Lamp Hanging Fonts~refurbishing #4aAntique Hanging Oil Parlor Lamp Victorian Converted To Electric Parts Or RepairAntique Iron Horse Hanging Oil Lamp Chas ParkerFabulous Vintage Aladdin Model #23 Hanging Lamp 57" Vintage Ornate Brass Toned Chandelier Chain Hanging Lamp Antique Floral NiceOrnate Detailing Amber Crackle Ball Swag Lamp Hollywood Regency Hanging LightMiniature Dollhouse Art Lot 2 Original Paintings Hanging & Floor Lamps Chairs Vintage Amber Brown '70's Glass Globe Hanging Swag Lamp, Brass & Light DiffuserVintage Clover Smoke Bell For Old Hanging Oil Or Kerosene LampAngle Lamp Company Kerosene Hanging LampAntique Iron Horse Hanging Oil Lamp Weight Motor ChainsLot Hanging Hall Oil Lamp Parts Aladdin Leveler Extension Pulley Cap SeparatorsScarce Old 1890s Glass Grapes Pattern Antique Oil Lamp Hanging Match HolderVintage 5 Light Crystal Glass Arms Chandelier & Prisms Antique Hanging LampVintage Fountain Oil Rain Hanging Lamp Beautiful Goddess 33" Tall X 13" WideVintage Hanging Porcelain And Brass Light Sockets Steampunk Punk Lamp PartsVintage 1960's Mid Century Eames Red Glass Hanging Swag Lamp Vintage Hanging Oil Lamp Brass Font And Chimney Housing Kerosene Lantern LightHeileman's Old Style Beer Light - Hanging Lamp Man Cave Lot Of 2Vintage Crackeled Amber Glass Hanging LampMini Hanging Baby Room Lamp Swag Chandelier Crystal Prism Brass Spelter Vintage Single Hanging Lily Mini Lamp Chandelier Crystal Prism Brass Tole Pendant LightMixed 19 Vintage Hanging Prism Crystal/glass Lamp & Chandelier Parts~estate Find10 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 30mm Vtg Antique Style Electric Oil Lamp Hanging Ceiling Brass Bronze French MermaidVtg Old Style Beer 4 Sided Rotating Hanging Lamp...heilmans Pure Brew...Vintage Retro Hanging Glass Globe Lamp AmberAntique Eapg Hanging Oil Lamp ~ Light Pink Ribbed Glass Maker's Mark On PontilAntique 19th C Ornate Brass Hanging Oil Lamp Ceiling Pulley Motor LibraryEarly Antique Cruisie Wrought Brass Hanging Grease - Fat- Whale Oil Lamp Vintage Clear & Etched Foliage Angle Hanging Oil Lamp Elbow Shade 18th Century Wrought Iron Four Wick Betty Lamp With Original Hanging ChainEarly Antique Hanging Grease- Fat-whale Oil Lamp Four Wick Cruisie Wrought Iron Vintage Mid Century Italian Hanging Pierced Chinese Oriental Design Swag Lamp14" White Milk Glass Lamp Shade Kerosene Oil Hanging Dome W/ Bracket HolderSingle Hanging Lily Mini Lamp Chandelier Crystal Prism Brass Tole Pendant Light20pcs/lot Clear Crystal Chandelier 1.5‘’ Glass Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drop

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