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    

1960s Space Age Danish Modern Ufo Hanging Lamp Fixture Mid Century VintageHanging Oil Lamp Bradley & Hubbard Solid Brass Font - Antique Oil Lamp PartAntique Mission Oak Arts And Crafts Hanging Light Lamp Shade Slag Glass Project6 Pcs Solar Chinese Hanging Lanterns Lamp Outdoor Light F Weding Party Decor AuW Antique Hanging Library Parlor Oil Lamp Handpainted Shade White Flame Light CoAntique Early 19th C Tin Betty Hanging Grease Oil Lamp Lighting AafaAntique Hexagon 12 Panel Slag Glass Shade Hanging Metal Filigree Chandelier LampStunning 19thc Wood Oak Wood Male Corbel With Hanging Glass & Brass Lamp C1880C.1880s Fancy Hanging Library Oil Lamp Lower Frame Dragon Sea Horse Serpent ArmsStunning 19thc Wood Oak Wood Male Corbel With Hanging Glass & Brass Lamp C1880Ca. 1890s B&h Rocker Leveler Hanging Library Oil Lamp Twisties, Font & ExtensionBrass Extension Mechanism W/chains For Kerosene/oil Library Hanging Lamp 2ds975Antique Hanging Oil Lamp Ornate Marked 1892 Motor Pulley And CapLot Of 5 Hanging Oil Lamp Ceiling Fixture Extension Levelers Aladdin Angle NyEarly Baby Blue Trim White Opal Glass Hanging Chandelier Oil Gas Lamp Smoke BellAntique French Beaded Hanging Bronze Lamp Glass Tube Prism Chandelier Vintage1950's Mid Century Danish Teak & Fiberglass Shade Hanging Swag LampCeiling Fan Modern Office Furniture Lighting Interior Fixtures Hanging Lamps!!!Antique Cast Iron Country Store Oil Hanging Lamp Part Harp Ideal No. 72 Antique Hanging Oil Lamp Ornate Brass Supports1900's Antique Arts& Craft Slag Glass Mission Hanging Lamp Light FixturePatd 1870 Peg Eapg Oil Guard Lamp Filler Font Bracket Sconce Hanging Iron Horse Vintage Mid-century Walnut Hanging Lamp W/ Shade And Swag Chain Kerosene Oil Opalescent Hanging LampAntique Victorian Brass Oil Kerosene Pull Down Hanging Parlor Lamp Frame Parts1of2 Vintage Ruby Cranberry Glass Brass Small Hanging Lamp Chandelier CrystalCranberry Hobnail Victorian Hanging Oil Lamp Electrified *beautiful*Stunning 19thc Wood Oak Wood Male Corbel With Hanging Glass & Brass Lamp C1880Mid Century Spun Fiberglass Green Woven Hanging Swag Lamp 60's Vintage RetroVintage Lucite Grape Swag Light Lamp Blue Green Hanging Retro Cool Vintage Pierced Brass Ufo Swag Lamp Hanging Light NumberedVintage Chandelier Crystal Prisms 83 Pcs Hanging Drops Lamp Repair Glass AntiqueVtg Mcm Spun Lucite Spaghetti Yellow Orange Gold Hanging Swag Lamp LightVintage Antique Cast Iron Hanging Candle Garden Lantern Lamp Japan Pagoda Wow NrMid Century Slag Glass Double Lotus Flower Hanging Pendant Light Lamp ChandelierAntique~large White Milk Glass Hanging Library Oil Lamp Shade 14" Dome ShapeAntique Hanging Oil Lamp PartsAntique C1870,s Brass Hanging Chandelier Oil Lamp Original Shade Etc. Nr.25 Blue Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Pendants 38mm 1908aVintage Pair Of Electric Wall Lamps Solid Brass With Hanging Silk & Brass ShadesRetro Brass/copper Moroccan Style Jeweled Swag Hanging LampRuby Red Vintage Swag Mid Century Hanging Lamp,works Great, Very Good ConditionAntique Cast Iron Ceiling Pulley Canopy For Hanging Oil Lamp Aesthetic SignedAntique Victorian Smoke Bell White Glass Ruffled 4” Hanging Oil Lamp PartLot Of 4 Vintage Cast Iron Kerosene Oil Lamp Hanging Wall Holders With 2 BracketRetro, Mid Century Modern Lucite Amber Grapes Large Wall Hanging Lamp Light Vintage Rv Lawn Ware Retro Patio Light Camping Hanging Tiki Lamp By Lawnware Co.Japanese Buddhist Set Bronze Lantern Temple Toro Candle Lamp Hanging No ReserveAntique Victorian Hanging Oil Kerosene Majolica Lamp Floral Design ItalyAntique Cut Glass Crystal Prism For Luster Chandelier Solar Banquet Hanging LampTiffany-style Stained Glass Hanging Lamp €Ceiling Cast Iron Conopy For An Iron Horse Hanging LampAntique Hanging Oil Lamp Victorian Brass Frame Painted Floral Dome Prisms NiceA: Antique Victorian Smoke Bell White Glass Ruffled 3-1/2” Hanging Oil Lamp PartB: Antique Victorian Smoke Bell White Glass Ruffled 3-1/2” Hanging Oil Lamp PartWonderful Cast Iron & Metal Hanging Oil Lamp Bracket - VictorianAntique Hand Forged Wrought Iron Whale Oil Miners Betty Lamp Single Wick HangingAntique Hand Forged Wrought Iron Whale Oil Miners Betty Lamp 4 Wick HangingHanging Oil/kerosene Lamp Milk Glass Smoke BellLarge Elegant Leaded Slag Glass Hanging, Unsigned, One Socket Lamp

Recent News: Hanging Lamps

Source: Google News

Funky lamp balls meet their match at antique mall
Columbia Daily Tribune, July 24th

Weeks later, when my husband was in a good mood, I told him I wanted to go back for that hanging lamp because it matched the ones I have. That's when I got the look that said I'd lost my mind along with the declaration that the lamp I found was not the...Read more

Marset Adds Hazy Day to its Collection
Dexigner, July 20th

As a hanging lamp, the opal glass ball fades from a sandy matte to a shiny transparent finish at the small curvature that rounds out the lampshade. This detail breaks up the geometry of the sphere as well as highlights the glassblowing technique used...Read more

Estate Sale Roundup: June 18-20: Not snow nor rain nor dark of night can keep ...
Austin Chronicle, July 18th

Vaseline glassware; a lot of lamps; Tiffany-style Coca Cola hanging lamp; antique heavy brass bed with mattress; marble-top round table and a small marble top display table. Japanese Geisha Kimono Furisode Uchikake solo robe design; Cash, debit/credit ...Read more

Look to Morocco for luxury décor
Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 12th

Look to Morocco for luxury décor. web1_copy_ATHOME-VICKIPAYNE-MOROCCO-1-LA.jpg. Ricardo DeAratanha/McClatch-Tribune News Medea A Moroccan hanging lamp among citrus in a garden. This type of lamp also could be hung indoors...Read more

Jan's must reads: Forget light rail — I want my own closet; top books to ...
Austin Business Journal (blog), July 11th

The slideshow of Christina Simon's bungalow in Northeast Austin features a host of quirky combinations from a Moroccan inspired hanging lamp to deer antlers to a fuschia-colored easy chair. I could see spending my afternoon at her art desk, too...Read more

No gilding this lily
Omaha World-Herald, July 9th

In turn, the flower droops just slightly to provide the effect of an ornate hanging lamp — talk about disco decor. Garabrandt's notes show a Turk's cap lily was found in the Knull Prairie during restoration work at Neale Woods, Fontenelle Forest's...Read more

Dead Girls as Objects, or the 'Ick' in Lovesick
New York Times, July 8th

“Inside the tiny white house, he sat at the head of the table, listening to the sea gulls, his stare fettered from below by the white lace tablecloth, whose flower-whorled spiderweb knew how to trap his eyes, and occluded by the low-hanging lamp, whose...Read more

O'Reilly: The unceasing march of time
Newsday, June 28th

We sat in our old family pew, and I found myself gazing up at the very same hanging lamp I constantly looked up at as a boy. The lamp and the smell of the church triggered a like-yesterday memory of Msgr. James Wilders, a long-serving pastor at the...Read more