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 K.l.80 Tilley Lamp K.l.80 Hanging Tilley Lamp Barn Find Incomplete UntestedAntique Victorian Bradley Hubbard Chandelier Hanging Kerosene Parlor Lamp RosesAntique Victorian Clear/milky Glass Hanging Hall Oil Kerosene Lamp W/brass TrimVintage Dietz No. 25 Wall Hanging Lamp Lantern Square Bottom C1890s Hanging Library Oil Lamp Frame Miller Center Draft Font B&h ExtensionMackenzie Childs Courtly Stripe Hanging Lamp / Pendant LightRare Lg Wright Moon And Stars Green Glass Hanging Lamp WorksAntique Italian Rococo Old Brass Victorian Style Chandelier Hanging Parlor Lamp60s Space Age Danish Modern Ufo Hanging Lamp Fixture Mid Century Vintage14" Antique Victorian Hanging Oil Kerosene Cranberry Bullseye Optic Lamp ShadeRare Find! Vintage Hanging Swag LampAntique Italian Rococo Old Brass Victorian Style Chandelier Hanging Parlor LampAntique Enormous "arts & Crafts" Slag Glass Hanging Lamp. Tiffany, Handel Era.Modern Crystal Ceiling Lighting Chandelier Lamp Hanging Pendant Fixture Clear Fancy Filigree Vintage Metal Swag Lamp Hanging Light W/ Aurora Borealis PrismsBradley And Hubbard Hanging Oil Lamp FontAntique Victorian Parlor Hanging Library Oil Lamp Chandelier~hp Water Lily~prismVintage Retro Red Glass Bulb Globe Hanging Swag Light Fixture Lamp - Works3 Aladdin Lamps 2 Table Lamps Onr Hanging LampAntique Hanging Kerosene Oil Parlor Lamp Frame ~ Vintage Primitive Lighting Antique Hand Painted Milk Glass14 Inch Fitter Hanging Parlor Lamp Shade Fancy C1890s Hanging Library Oil Lamp Frame Center Draft Plume & Atwood FontModern 6-light Crystal Chandelier Luxury Hanging Light Ceiling Lamp Dining RoomOrnate Antique Oil Kerosene Hanging Or Banquet Brass Lamp FontAntique Hanging Swag Lamp Late 1800'sCranberry Opalescent Glass Oil Kerosene Banquet Hanging Lamp ShadeFashion Modern Ceiling Light Hanging Lamp Artistic Lighting Fixture Chandelier HElegant Designs Lf1002-wht Sheer Shade Chrome Floor Lamp With Hanging CrystalsVintage Antique Ceiling Retractable Hanging Oil Lamp Parts~aladdin~b&h Era~partsOutstanding Victorian Hanging Jeweled Pierced Brass Candle Lamp Fairy LampCandle Led Solar Powered Hanging Light Outdoor Waterproof Garden Lawn Decor LampVintage Aladdin Nickel Plated Hanging Kerosene/oil Lamp Font W/burner & WickAntique Eapg Blue Pressed Pattern Glass Hanging Lamp With Matching Smoke BellAmazing Antique Victorian Era Bronze & Jeweled Hanging Candle LampVintage French Original Vintners Olympe Oil Lamp Wall Hanging Table Top 110v Industrial 18-lights Vintage Decor Metal Chandelier Pendant Hanging LampVictorian Canopy Motor Parlor Library Chandelier Kerosene Hanging Oil Lamp PartFashion Modern Ceiling Light Hanging Lamp Artistic Lighting Fixture Chandelier HModern Art Deco Diy Chandelier Brief Pendant Hanging Lamps Ceiling Chandeliers14" Hand Painted Hanging Victorian Glass Oil Lamp ShadeFixture Ceiling Lamp Industrial Iron Vintage Minimalist Pendant Hanging LightsLot Of Hanging Oil Lamp Parts30 Clear Crystals Chandelier Glass Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 38mmMackenzie Childs Simply White Hanging Lamp / Pendant LightAladdin #3 Retractor Motor For Hanging Oil Lamp12 1/2" Chain Link Vintage Cast Brass Ornate Chain Hanging Lamp Chandelier PartLuxury Ring Pendant Lamp Ceiling Hanging Lighting Chandelier Led Fixture Ca9Suncatcher Crystal Healing Pendulum Lamp Prisms Hanging Butterfly Pendant Gift5 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 40mmModern Art Deco Diy Chandelier Brief Pendant Hanging Lamps Ceiling Chandeliers10 Clear 20mm Glass Crystal Ball Prism Suncatcher Hanging Pendant Lamp Part Drop10 Large Red Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendant10 Pcs Large Clear Glass Crystals Chandelier Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Pendants3 Led Outdoor Hanging Camping Tent Light Bulb Fishing Lantern Lamp White LightAmerican Deer Horn Antler Resin Pendant Light Chandelier Hanging Lamp FixtureAmerican Deer Horn Antler Resin Pendant Light Chandelier Hanging Lamp FixtureAntique Vintage Victorian Eastlake Oil Hanging Lamp Chain PartsVintage Art Deco 3 Hole Hanging Satin Glass Ceiling Light Shade Lamp Cover 10"10pcs Clear Crystal Glass Chandelier Lamp Part Prisms Hanging Drop Pendants 50mm10 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 50mm