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    

Antique Bradley & Hubbard Hanging Brass Oil/kerosene Lamp Blue Crystal VictorianAntique Aesthetic Hanging Brass Lamp Opalescent Swirl Cranberry Glass ShadeFabulous Stunning Antique Duplex Hanging Converted Parlor Oil Lamp Copper Wow !Antique Hanging Brass & Cast Iron Aladdin Kerosene / Oil Lamp ~ Old Vtg DecorAntique Coleman Style Hanging Gas Light ~ Old Vintage Lamp Lighting Part Aladdin Model 12 Hanging Lamp, 4 Post, Original 616 Shade, CompleteMid Century Modeline Pearsall Teak Wood Hanging 3 Light Pole Lamp Danish ModernAntique Beautiful Royal Brass Font For A Gwtw Lamp Or Hanging LampOriginal Den Haan Rotterdam Brass Hanging Trawler Oil Lamp Holland Netherlands Antique Hanging Brass Library Oil Lamp: For Use With Minor Repairs (or Parts).Antique Vintage 1920's Sailing Ship Dolphins Stained Glass Hanging Lamp Or LightOld Brass Parker Oil Lamp - No Hanging FixtureAntique Bronze Brass Metal Phoenix Bird Wall Hanging Sconce Electric Lamp Pair 16th / 17th / 18th Century Italian Brass Multi Wick Hanging Chandelier Oil LampVictorian Hanging Library Parlor Kerosene Oil Lamp Frame For Parts RestorationAntique Cranberry Hobnail 14" Hanging Oil Lamp Shade - Great ConditionVintage Nude Woman Goddess Motion Oil Rain Hanging Lamp LightAntique Hanging Light Fixture Old Vintage Glass Shade House Lamp Brass SwitchAntique Iron Horse Cast Iron Hanging Lamp Ceiling Mount ~ Old Vtg Lighting PartAntique Victorain Hanging Oil Lamp Hand Painted Glass Shade&pull Down Lamp PartsVintage Pierced Brass Turkish Moroccan Hanging Lamp Jeweled No ReserveVtg 60s Mid Century Modern Moe Hanging Swag Lamp Light Blue Green HoneycombFabulous Antique Brass, Ornate Oil Hanging Country Store Lamp Font, The Juno10 Antique Vintage Amber Glass Prisms For Victorian Hanging Kerosene Oil LampVintage Johnson Art Deco Swag Hanging Nude Goddess Oil Rain Lamp No ReserveLight Fittings Retro E27 Lamp Holder Edison Bulbs Hanging Wire Lampholders 853Vtg. 1970’s Hanging Rain Lamp Motion Dancing Couple Works Great!Vintage Hanging Oil Rain Lamp Greek Goddess Woman Naked 33" X 13" Works Great!Antique Hanging Brass Oil Kerosene Lamp Frame With DiffuserAntique Vintage French Vintners Abeille Bee Oil Lamp Wall Hanging Table Top 1kmb Japanese Large Buddhist Set Bronze Lantern Temple Toro Candle Lamp HangingMid Century Modern Hanging Light Lamp Pendant White Vintage Adjustable Eames EraAntique Cranberry & Opalescent Ribbed Glass Hanging Gas Hall Lamp Shade Mid Century Modern Teak Hanging Lamp.1960s Hanging Swag Lamp Blue Green Mosaic Lucite Chunk Resin Mid Century $320.00Vintage Lamp Shade Milk Glass 14" Dome Hanging Library Oil Shade (s22) Vtg Mid Century Fenton Opalescent Honeysuckle Coin Dot Swag Hanging Lamp Vintage Wrought Iron Hanging Light Fixtures Gothic Industrial Art Lamp Restore Dale Tiffany Stained Glass Dining Room Chandelier Hanging Lamp Jeweled BaroqueVintage Aladdin Model 11 Nickel Finish Hanging Oil Kerosene Lamp Burner Gallery Brass Victorian Hanging Library Parlor Lamp Motor For Kerosene Oil Lamp PartsVictorian Brass Kerosene Oil Hanging Store Lamp FontAntique Hanging Clear Etched Paisleys Frosted Glass Kerosene Oil Lamp FixtureVintage Ruby Red Thumbprint Hanging Gwtw Lamp ShadeAntique Aladdin Kerosene Oil Hanging Lamp Light Chain Pulley Lifter - LibraryAntique Spring Motor W/ Brass Canopy For Hanging Kerosene Lamp Vertical PulleyVintage Lantern Swag Lamp Hanging Light Art Deco Antique Slag Amber Glass SignedVintage 70's Amber Swag Lamp Glass Globe Hanging Retro Light Diffuser OpticVintage Hanging Swag Lamp Mid Century Glass Shade Retro Ceiling Light Green 20" 2 Hanging Lamps Paul Evans Brutalist Style Copper Brass The Feldman CompanyBest Modern Acrylic Hanging Pendant Chic Stainless Steel Plating Light LampVintage Pierced Brass Turkish Moroccan Hanging Lamp Jeweled No ReserveArt Deco Brass Ceiling Light Hanging Lamp Architectural Repair 3 Light Fixture3 Glass Globe Vintage Hanging Swag Ceiling Lamp Chandelier Mid Century Eames EraVintage Spaghetti Turquoise Blue Hanging Lamp Vintage1960's Mid Century Amber Glass Hanging Swag Lamp/light Unique Vintage Capiz Shell Swag Lamp Hanging LightUnusual Antique Vintage 13 7/8" Pink Hobnail Hanging Oil Lamp Glass Shade N/rWhite Swag Lamp Stained Slag Milk Glass Hanging Electric Ceiling Light FixtureVtg Lot 8 Brass Bell Canopies Hanging & Flush Mount Ceiling Light Lamp Parts

Recent News: Hanging Lamps

Source: Google News

Pumping carbon dioxide deep underground may trigger earthquakes
Science News, January 9th

In the central and eastern United States from 1970 to 2000, geologists recorded a yearly average of only 20 quakes of at least magnitude 3.0 — enough to sway a hanging lamp. Then the count rose: Between 2010 and 2013, 450 such temblors hit — a rate ...Read more

Wildside Festival kicks off the year at Centaur Theatre
Montreal Gazette, January 8th

A large hanging lamp swings back and forth, creating moonshine-on-mermaid moments. While Ferrier strums his guitar and stage whispers his lines, a pin drop silence reigns in the room. Coming and Going is a mind massage, hypnotic and possibly soporific ...Read more

Destiny2 at Raven Woods a study in custom touches
The Province, January 8th

The False Creek Design Group adds curves with a retro-inspired red chair and in a hanging lamp over the dining table to make an impact. Toy has a lot of advice for homeowners about how to approach the design of a new space. Firstly, keep it ordered and ...Read more

24HRS LIGHT Is A Mobile Lamp With No Cable Or Button
PSFK (blog), December 9th

The mobile LED lamp has a minimalist design and can function as either a table or desk lamp or as a hanging lamp. The lamp doesn't require cables or buttons and offers a simplified lighting system without sacrificing functionality. The power comes from...Read more

Mystery of SKINNED GOAT HEADS left hanging from lamp post
Daily Star, November 6th

THE BIZARRE and gruesome sight of a pair of skinned goat heads hanging from a lamp post has left New York residents baffled. By Andy Wells / Published 6th November 2014. The skinned goat heads were left hanging from a lamp post GRIM DISCOVERY: ...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

Numerouno: A sleek hanging lamp made from cardboard
Gizmag, November 17th

German designer Johannes Kiessler has created a sleek hanging lamp which is predominantly made from cardboard. Dubbed, Numerouno, the eco-friendly lamp weighs a mere 600 g (21 oz) and features a low consumption 21 W fluorescent tube that emits ...Read more

A Wooden Hanging Lamp Shaped Like a Giant Nikon 14-24mm Lens
PetaPixel, February 13th

Check out this DSLR Paparazzi lamp, created by Spanish design studio Monoculo Design Studio. It's a wooden hanging lamp that's shaped like a gigantic Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 camera lens. It's completely handmade and comes with a detachable lens hood...Read more