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    

Victorian Cranberry Hobnail Glass Shade & Brass Hanging Hall Oil Lamp~no ReserveAngle Lamp Co. Hanging Double Burner Copper Oil Lamp W/ Elbow & Blue ChimneyVintage Ankerlight Marine Brass Ships Lantern Light Lamp Wall Or Hanging Option 19thc Victorian Era Cast Iron Eastlake Design Ceiling Oil Lamp Hanging HookVtg. Mid-century 1960's Modernism Space Age Orange 4-port Ceiling Hanging LampAntique Victorian Haida Complete Brass Hanging Oil Lamp, Satin Floral ShadeAntique Vintage Metal Art Deco Chandelier Hanging Lamp Light FixureVintage 1960s Schlitz Beer Real Gusto Swag 3 Light Hanging Lamp SignAntique Brass Bradley & Hubbard Jewled Hanging Lamp Frame With PrismsVtg Hanging Swag Tiffany Stain Glass Lamp Chandelier Light Handmade Slag Hawaii Antique Black Forest Anri Wood Carved Swiss Mountian Climber Figure Hanging Lamp2- Ornate Brackets With Ladder Chain - Antique Victorian Hanging Oil Lamp PartsSolar Power Garden Lights Cornet Cone Warm Led Lamp Hanging Lamp Lantern Drop39- Vintage U-drop Pendant Glass Prisms Chandelier Hanging Lamp Parts Lot Pinapple Shaped Amber Glass Hanging Swag Lamp Light Chain Works RetroAntique Hanging Oil Lamp Parts Frame EtcVintage Early 1900s Hanging Floral Tiffany ? Style Lead Stained Glass Lamp ShadeSolar Powered Led Wind Spinner Light Outdoor Garden Courtyard Hanging LampVintage 60's Swag Lamp Lawnware Pink Outdoor Hanging Patio Light Plastic Rv 80 Clear Chandelier Crystals Lamp Prisms Hanging Pendants Rainbow Maker 38mmIron Water Pipe Loft Pendant Lamp Chandelier E27 Edison Bulb Hanging Light 10 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Pendants 76mm 4.72''Antique Milk Glass Hand Painted Hanging Oil Library Lamp Shade With Butteryfly10 Black Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 38mm50 Blue Chandelier Glass Crystals Bottom Lamp Prisms Hanging Light Pendant 38mmAntique Vintage Hanging Lamp Light Fixture Green Slag Glass Floral Filigree 14" Vintage Milkglass Glass Hanging Lamp Light Shade Globe Cover Hp White Pink Vintage Rain Oil Swag Lamp Large Hanging Working 37"Antique Hanging Brass Oil Kerosene Lamp Tin Shade W Stars Antique Ornate Glass Oil Lamp Font Wall Bracket Or Hanging Library Fixture PartsWorking Vintage Mid Century Modern Swag Lamp Pendant Hanging Light - 1960's 70'sAntique Brass Angle Mfg Co Ny Kerosene Oil Lamp Burners Hanging Light, Railroad60 Led Portable Camping Tents Hanging Lamp Household Emergency Lights Aaa/18650As Is Lot Of 20 Vintage Hanging Icicle Crystal Glass Prism Lamp Chandelier PartsKerosene Oil Farm Scene Font Hanging Lamp Vintage Mid Century Hanging Hollywood Regency Gothic 4 Glass Panel Lamp LightAntique Wrought Iron Green Crackle Glass Electric Hanging LampsB&h #5 Radiant Big Country Store Saloon Hanging Oil Lamp Font Bradley HubbardOld Antique Brass Hanging Ceiling Lamp Light Chain Drop Hanger Gas ? Pat. 1892Vintage Moroccan Brass Hanging Lamp10 Red Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 20mm5 Red Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 20mm10 Red Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 55mm10 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 50mm10 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Hanging Drops Pendants 50mm M0195425 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendant 38mm 10 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Pendants 4.2''Colorful Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 76mmVintage Metal Hanging Pendant Ceiling Light Lamp Fenton Opalescent Glass ShadesVintage Vanity Swag Lamp Hanging Lights Bronze Color Crowns Heavy Crystal GlobesVtg Retro Mid Century Modern Danish Amber Glass Hanging Ceiling Light Swag LampCaged Blown Glass Swag Lamp With Chain Hanging Hardware IncludedAntique Gwtw Brass Hanging Library Oil Or Kerosene Lamp Font Made In America 25 Green Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Hanging Drops Pendants 3.66''10 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendant 40mm10 Clear Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Hanging Drops Pendants 50mm M195310 Red Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 38mm10 Large Chandelier Glass Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Pendant Gold Hooks10 Purple Chandelier Glass Crystal Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 55mm50 Black Chandelier Glass Crystals Bottom Lamp Prisms Hanging Light Pendant 38mm

Recent News: Hanging Lamps

Source: Google News

Grand old landmark Hotel Okura Tokyo says sayonara, for now
The Japan Times, August 31st

Fans can name a range of features they will miss when the hotel meets the wrecking ball: hanging lamp shades modeled on the shape of ancient gems, known as Okura lanterns; round tables surrounded by five chairs like the petals of a plum flower in the ...Read more

Kmart is the latest interior design trend as families 'upstyle' their homes
Daily Mail, August 16th

'There's a copper candle holder which is being used as a cool hanging lamp cage pendant.' As well as doing a Kmart hack on the $7 copper candle holders, creatives are turning $2 bags in to cushion slips and $5 tea-towel sets in to works of art to hang...Read more

The Heat Is On With James D. Julia's Summer Fine Arts, Asian, and Antiques Auction
Benzinga, August 15th

Enthusiasts will be aglow over several Tiffany Studios offerings including a green Acorn hanging lamp, estimated at $10,000-15,000. And like all of Julia's Fine Arts, Asian, & Antiques auctions, August's event also features a fine selection of Oriental...Read more

The Taj Mahal's Seductive Charms
Wall Street Journal, August 14th

Then, passing through a door, visitors enter the darkened inner sanctum, lighted only by natural sources and a single Islamic hanging lamp. White marble screens, pierced with decorative patterns, keep visitors from getting too close to two sarcophagi...Read more

Best Bets: Week of August 10, 2015
New York Magazine, August 9th

“This green-glass hanging lamp ($1,100) is just 12 inches across, so it's the perfect accent light. I would drop it low over an end table.” (Photo: Courtesy of the vendor). “Hans Olsen designed this chair-slash-desk ($8,000) thinking of King Frederik...Read more

Foscarini's Spokes lamp puts unique spin on pendant lighting
Chicago Tribune, August 5th

To add to the Pinterest board, Amazon wishlist, 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

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