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.


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Recent News: Hanging Lamps

Source: Google News

Hundreds of Watches Are Stolen but a Victim Remains Undaunted
New York Times, May 29th

Over there: a hanging lamp in a fruit motif, its shade stained glass. A phone that looks like an antique roadster. A clown painting, a pencil etching of the Piazza San Marco in Venice. A porcelain elephant. Pens. Over here: a Claddagh ring, a self...Read more

WantedDesign 2015: A Focus on International Pavilions
Core77.com, May 26th

Designo Patagonia's Big Bang Baby Hanging Lamp is made up of Honesty plant (Lunnaria annual) seed-heads. Recognized for their translucent silver membranes, here they aggregate to create a diffuse light source. The design studio is committed to ...Read more

Silk cushions and rainbow lamps add colour to the home
South China Morning Post (subscription), May 19th

Duvet and bedding set. Why: Luxuriate in 400-thread-count pure cotton sheets. How much: From HK$1,200 for a single-bed set. Where: www.sleepnaked.hk tel: 3422 8126. Rainbow hanging lamp. Why: The coloured glass baubles will brighten any room...Read more

Modest auction sales can still pack a big punch
Tribune-Review, May 17th

With the onset of the summer holiday season just a week away with Memorial Day, local auctions houses celebrate with a four-pack of modest sales that could deliver a big punch. BHD Auctions. Owner Brian Detch, who started as an auctioneer for J.S. Dill ...Read more

Design of the times – classic pieces reflect evolving lifestyles in a changing ...
The Guardian, May 15th

Take for instance the Flight 815 hanging lamp by Cédric Ragot, the Solid C2 chair by Patrick Jouin, or François Brument's vases, which feature previously unimagined shapes, generated by machines that were still in their infancy in the early-2000s, such...Read more

Tiffany scenic leaded window and lamps, plus Howard & Davis and Seth ...
ArtfixDaily, May 12th

The star lot of the lamps category is a Tiffany Studios hanging lamp, 30 inches tall and with an 18-inch in diameter shade in the swirling pink Tyler pattern and a bronze beaded lower rim (est. $20,000-$30,000). Also will be a Williamson rose leaded...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

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