Antique and vintage lamps span a broad spectrum, including well known-styles like Victorian and slag glass and leading names like Tiffany, Handel, and Aladdin. Values vary greatly and reproductions abound, so do your homework.

The earliest type of lamp, the oil lamp, was a simplistic vessel with an absorbent wick. These were mass-produced starting in the 19th century. Manufacturers typically made the metal base and burner and bought the glass from another manufacturer.

Between the 1840s and the early 1900s, during the Victorian era, oil lamps and candelabras coexisted with early electric lamps. In 1908, Aladdin Industries Inc. created the Aladdin lamp, an oil lamp so bright that no one was able to find another oil lamp that compared, despite Aladdin's offer of a thousand dollars if they could.

The biggest development in lamps toward the end of the 1800s was the growing popularity of ornate glass lampshades, often with floral imagery. Lamps started to become a decorative, rather than just functional, item. Slag glass (pressed glass with milky stripes), for example, became popular in England and America, and many lamp companies used it to create beautiful lamp shades.

Decorative table and floor lamps reached the height of their popularity in the U.S. in the first two decades of the 20th century, spurred by the success of Tiffany and its Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau competitors, like Handel.

Tiffany and others made bronze and gilt-bronze lamp bases, often simulating plants or tree trunks, and floral or other naturalistic art glass shades with colorful iridescent glass pieces leaded together. Thousands of Tiffany lamps were made, and they're highly collectible today. By the 1920s, many lamp designers had started to shift to Art Deco styles, characterized by angular lines and squared glass or paper shades. Also common were deco figural lamps with stems made to look like people.

Post WWII, mid-century lamps tended to be simpler (Eames), sillier (TV lamps) or groovier (lava lamps). Eames lamps were often made of metal and featured long, narrow, and sometimes wavy stems. Lamps with multiple bulbs and lamps with swiveling necks were also common. So-called TV lamps were also popular in the 1950s. Typically made of ceramic or plaster, these were backlit decorative sculptures created in the shape of animals, people, and plants...

Lava lamps, an icon of the 1960s and 70s, combined heated wax, chemicals, and dyed water to create lava-like imagery. Lava lamps were used more for decoration than for lighting.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

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    

Spectacular Vintage 1939 Hazeltine Lumitone Radio Lamp Company Tube Radio LampVintage Old World War 2 Legendary Radio-vision Antique Motion Lamp Ny HarborVintage Carbide Bicycle Lamp Lucas King If The Road No. 326.Antique 1930 Art Deco Alabaster & Spelter, Pirate Bookends & Lamp Original PaintCopper & Mica (eisenglass) Shade: For Van Erp Arts And Crafts Lamp1870's Cone Top Boston & Sandwich Figural Castle Student Oil Lamp Shade .Red Venetian Vase Aladdin Oil LampVictorian Cranberry Octagonal Etched Oil Lamp ShadeColeman Chandelier Lamp Pq, LanternTwo Zero Patent 1868 Sweeney Bullseye Magnifier Chimneys & Eagle Oil Lamp BurnerFine 19th C. Whale Oil Lamp Double Burner With Caps - Original Condition - Nr Original Art Deco Chrome Table Lamp & Stepped Glass Shade19thc Victorian Era Miniature Gone W Wind Style Oil Lamp W Hand Painted Flowers4 Tube Whale Oil Lamp BurnerSteuben, Fostoria, Quezal Pulled Feather Art Glass Lamp Shade 5 1/8" TallVintage Roseville Art Pottery Rare Green Baneda Lamp Double Handle Works GreatRare Art Deco Industrial Adjusto-lite Brass Clamp Lamp Farberware Usa Working *( Mid Century Pole Lamp Fenton Cranberry Opalescent Coin Dot Globes ShadesSonnett Original Sculpture, The Corgi Tea House Table Lamp, Lights Inside, Ooak!Gibson Vintage 1920's Halloween Lamp Shade Candolier Steuben, Fostoria, Quezal Pulled Feather Art Glass Lamp Shade 5 1/2" TallHawaiian Hula Girl Motor LampOriginal Art Deco Catalin Amber Bakelite Table Lamp 1930'sOriginal Art Deco Spelter Lady Figure Table Lamp & Alabaster Base Shade Vintage Econolite 1956 John Bull Locomotive Train Engine Motion Lamp Light WorksSteuben, Fostoria, Quezal Pulled Feather Art Glass Lamp Shade 6 1/4" TallSteuben, Fostoria, Quezal Pulled Feather Art Glass Lamp Shade 8 3/8" TallVintage Antique Santa Fe Railroad Switch Lantern LampColeman Rayo Aladdin Style Lamp Shade #8Victorian Miniature Milk Glass Oil Lamp With Pansies 1880-190019thc Victorian Era Miniature Blue Glass Acorn Oil Lamp W Bullseye FontAdlake Railroad Switch Signal Lantern Non-sweating Lamp ChicagoUnusual C1880 Manhattan Brass Little Joker Miniature Oil Lamp Night Light &shadeFenton Satin Glass Hp Flowers 23 1/2" Gwtw 3 Way Lamp~signed C. Smith~no ReserveVintage Atomic Space Age Sputnik Pendant Lamp Chandelier 7 Glass Globes ModernNorth Dakota Rosemeade Pottery Deer T.v. Light Lamp. Mint!Antique Art Déco Butterscotch Amber Marbled Bakelite Faturan Table Lamp VintageVintage Original Dressel Arlington Nj Railroad Switch Signal Lamp Electric19thc Victorian Era Miniature Amber Glass Oil Lamp W Hobnail FontAntique Tin Miners Lamp Oil Wick Cap Lamp Teapot Marked With A P On The BottomMiller Dynamo And Front Lamp - Bnib - Vintage Bicycle Lighting Set1940s-50s Coleman "aristocrat" Black #4a Gas Iron Orig Box Use Lantern Lamp FuelDisney Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald & Goofy Stained Glass LampAntique Tin Coal Miners Teapot Hat Lamp No Reserve!!!Carnival Glass Imperial- Zippered Loop Small Finger Oil Lamp Marigold Elkhart Brass Mfg.co ~ Fire Extinguisher ~ Made Into Lamp ~ Indiana ~ Antique!Pair Mary Gregory Antique Art Glass Enameled Lamps Pompadour Pink No ReservMiners Oil Wick Cap Lamp Stamped Crown-original Wick & Oil-underground LightDewer Lamp Company Miners Carbide Hand Lamp-1918 Patent Date-unusual ReflectorMiners Baldwin "bug" Carbide Lamp - Nice!!Beautiful Ceramic Deer Doe & Fawn Planter Tv Lamp 1959 Maddux Of California 11"hAntique "little Miss Muffet" Lithophane Fairy Lamp Porcelain Gold TraceryAntique Kerosene Lamp,embossed, Blue Swirl GlassAntique Roycroft Copper Lamp - Early 20th Century - Very Good ConditionTiffany Studios LampAuthentic Flos Arco Floor Lamp - Dwr Design Within Reach Herman MillerTiffany Studios 424 Dore Gold Bronze Desktop Harp LampExtremely Rare Cranberry Overlay Oil Lamp W/ Lg Brass Collar- Mercury Glass BaseTiffany Studios Lamp BaseArt Deco Saturn Lamp, 1930s Machine Age, Bakelite, Uranium Glass Green Shade