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    

Vintage Original 1940s Sunshine Beer Lamp Hanging Neon Light Bar Sign Reading PaVintage Brass Aladdin Caboose ? Model B Kerosene Oil Hanging Or Wall LampAladdin Model 6 Original Hanging Brass Kerosene Lamp With Original Chimney 1900Two Arm Fleur-de-lis Double Burner Hanging Angle Oil Lamp Ny Restoration PartsVintage Cranberry Swirl Shade Hanging Hall Lamp Chandelier Light All OriginalAntique Hanging Tin Kerosene Oil Shop Lamp Old Blue Paint As Found Light LanternVintage Original 1960's Sunshine Beer Lamp Hanging Light Bar Sign Reading PaEmbossed Kerosene Oil Hanging Banquet Lamp Font---as FoundVintage Blue Swirl Glass Shade Hanging Hall Lamp Chandelier Light All OriginalHanging Lamp Brass Oil Fount With Burner And Flame Spreader. Center Draft.13" Tall Vintage Ruby Pressed Glass Brass Small Hanging Lamp Chandelier CrystalHanging Leaded,slag Glass Shade,arts Crafts ,,handel Lamp.duffner,williamsonAntique Glass Match Holder For A Hanging Library Oil Lamp Fixture Vintage Glass Fruit Grapes Swag Hanging Lamp W/11.5 Foot Drop Chain-works! Ex-nr1 Baby Vintage Blue Aqua Brass Hanging Lamp Chandelier Crystal Glass PrismsAntique Opal Match Holder For A Hanging Library Oil Lamp FixtureAntique Vintage French Original Vintners Pigeon Oil Lamp Wall Hanging Table Top Antique Stained Leaded Glass Hanging Lamp Ceiling Chandelier Light Fixture LargeAntique Ornate Brass Jeweled Hanging Library Oil Lamp Fixture Parts Two Angle Oil Lamp Co. Hanging Oil Lamp Antique Pre 1910 1800's Elbow Chimney Vintage Glass Blue White Opalescent Hanging Oil Lamp Match HolderVintage Lot 20 Hanging U-drop 3" Crystal Glass Prisms Lamp Chandelier PartsAntique Hanging Oil Lamp, Shade, Duplex England, Brass, Hand PaintedVictorian Ornate Brass Hanging Kerosene / Oil Lamp Frame With Smoke BellLg Antique Art Deco Era Gothic Medieval Church Cathedral Hanging Chandelier LampVictorian Cranberry Opalescent Swirl Hanging Lamp Hall Light Brass Antique ChipAntique Victorian White Milk Glass Hanging Kerosene Lamp Smoke Bell 1880s OldVintage Large 18" Hanging Swag Nude Goddess Mineral Oil Rain Drip Lamp For PartVintage Mid Century/victorian Ornate Swag Hanging Pendant Light Ceiling Lamp10 Vintage Hanging French U-drop Crystal Glass Prism Lamp Part Kerosene Oil RepaLarge Powder Blue Swirl Antique Glass Oil Lamp Shade Hanging Cased Replacement Antique Opal Slant Oil Lamp Shade Hanging Library Iron Horse FixtureShabby Swag Floral Tole Metal Chandelier Vtg Hanging Chic Lamp Light FixtureBox Lot Old Gas Lamp Light Burner Valve Arm Parts Hanging Sconce Repair RestoreInteresting Old Islamic Style Hanging Oil Lamp - Incense Burner - L@@k - RareVintage Creators Inc Rain Mineral Oil Swag Hanging Lamp Chicago 32"Antique Ornate Brass Hanging Library Oil Lamp Leveler RingAntique Glass Match Holder For A Hanging Library Oil Lamp FixtureVintage Victorian Hanging Parlor Lamp Light Blue Glass Shade With Crystal PrismsVintage Mod Geometric Plastic Swag Hanging Chain Light Lamp Retro AcrylicModern Contemporary Crystal Rain Drop Chandelier Led Ceiling Light Hanging Lamp Antique Rare Mid Eastern Enameled- Hanging Lamp Oil Or Candles Birds & FlowersAntique H P Floral 14" Hanging Oil Lamp Shade Library Iron Horse ParlorVintage 1975 Schmidt Beer Tiffany Style Hanging Pool Light Fixture LampPair Kosmos Brenner 4" Custard Glass Oil Lamp Bracket Vase Font Hanging Parlor Vintage Brass Hanging Oil Lamp Prisms ElectricAntique Vintage Hanging Tin Kerosene Oil Lamp Blue Painted Light Lantern Old14"wide Floral Oil Lamp-light Shade,white Glass,magnolia Flower,hanging CeilingAntique Ornate Brass Ceiling Pulley Motor Hanging Library Oil Lamp Fixture Vintage Hanging Ceiling Oil Lamp Light Floral FixtureBudweiser Beer Hanging Bar Lamp Game Room Man Cave10 Vintage Hanging French Large Drop Crystal Glass Prisms Lamp Chandelier PartsVintage Hanging Ceiling Oil Lamp Light Floral FixtureStained Glass Plug-in Hanging LampAntique Ornate Brass Hanging Library Oil Lamp Crown Vintage Wolf Hanging Mining Lamp Wolf Safety Lamp Co. Of America N.y.National Marine Lamp Co. Hanging Vintage Brass Lamp Works!Antique Ornate Brass Shade Crown For A Hanging Library Oil Lamp FixtureCharles Parker Glass Oil Lamp Bracket Filler Font Hanging Parlor ChandelierAntique Ornate Brass Hanging Library Oil Lamp Shade Crown Fixture Part

Recent News: Hanging Lamps

Source: Google News

"Scrounge": Recycling junk into art at Denver's Republic Plaza
The Denver Post, April 19th

It's reused, recycled, reduced into relevancy via the 119 dead light bulbs Craig Robb strings together for a hanging lamp or the yards of outdated computer tape he turns into a hairy two-dimensional constructions hanging on the wall. Artist Tim Flynn...Read more

Light motif
Palo Alto Online, April 15th

However, there is all new lighting throughout the home, and she did buy several light fixtures on the Internet -- the hanging lamp over the dining table, the sconces at the entry to the kitchen, and the library lights over the bookcases. "I did...Read more

How police were forced to let Cyril Smith off the hook for child porn
Daily Mail, April 13th

Under the hanging lamp, Tasker could see beads of sweat on Cyril's jowly face: he looked a worried man. 'We had him. I got the impression that if it went to trial he would crack. He said: “This will kill my mother”. I think he thought the game was up.'...Read more

Designers say Asian Modern is over
Inquirer.net, April 1st

The Obi Hanging Lamp won the HA +D (Hong Kong Architecture + Design) award for its innovation and artistry. Buri and abaca twine sensuously embrace the fiberglass squash-shaped lamp, lending an organic touch to a manmade material. Hacienda Crafts ...Read more

Hotel check: Malmaison London
Business Traveller, March 28th

The décor was appealing, with items such as the leather recliner with a matching footstall, with a huge over-hanging lamp. There was a slight industrial feel from features such as the wall of red-brick wallpaper, the oversized clock, and the large...Read more

Cardboard lamps made from local shops' discarded materials
Gizmag, March 24th

UK-based Green Spirit Creations is the latest team to try its hand at paper-based lighting solutions. Seeking out discarded materials from local shop-owners, its stylish household lamps are made from 100 percent recycled cardboard (bulbs, wiring and ...Read more