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

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Original 1930s French Art Deco Lady Sculpture Lamp By Enrique Molins-ballesteVintage Theatre Film Lamp Industrial Design Studio Loft Floor Light Alessi EamesDanish Design Moon Lamp Mid Century Max Sauze Fog & Murop Panton Poulsen 70s EraVintage Industrial Light / Lamp - Reclaimed Iron & Ali Pendant With Glass LensAntique Arts & Crafts Deco Reverse Painted Handel Lamp Light Shade 16" DiameterVintage Industrial Light - Copper Desk Lamp With Glass Lens From Usa - Pauluhn!1960s Mid Century Danish Modern Lyfa Teak Table Desk Lamp Vintage Fog Morup EraTriple Signed / Untouched Handel Mosserine Desk Lamp W/ Bronze Arts & Crafts, Nr38 Cm Width Antique French Style Vintage Crystal Chandelier Lighting Old LampMini Vintage Pair Brass Antique French Style Crystal Chandelier Lighting LampAntique Pittsburgh Reverse Painted Moon Seascape Banker's Desk Piano Lamp HandelAntique Victorian Eapg Pattern Glass Parlor Banquet Gwtw Globe Ball Oil Lamp Vintage Maclamp Retro Spot Lamp By Terence Conran 70s Habitat Standard Lamp ChicVintage Movie Theatre Light Antique Floor Lamp Eames Starck Kartell Tolix JieldeAntique Arts & Crafts Deco Reverse Painted Handel Lamp Light Shade 14" Diameter1950 Stilnovo Modernist Ufo Floor Lamp Arteluce Mid-century-modern Atomic Eames C1925 Era Art Deco Nouveau Flapper Girl Nude Lady Figural Lamp Frankart VintageAntique Art Nouveau Table Lamp Ornate Cast Iron Base Copper Shade Art Deco ChicGrasshopper Table Lamp Charcoal Dwr Design Within Reach Modern LightingRare Antique Art Glass Nailsea Verre Moire Miniature Oil Lamp Vintage Industrial Pendant Light - Brass Search Light-hanging Lamp-glass LensVintage Industrial Light/lamp - Ceiling Pendant Fitting - Cargo StyleSuperb Vintage Pair Brass Antique French Style Crystal Chandelier Lighting LampAladdin Tall Ruby Lincoln Drape Lamp Base Original 1940'sAntique Tiffany Studios Stained Glass Peony Lamp Shade Art Pottery Bamboo Base50s Mid Century Stilnovo Italian Lamp Light Chandelier Eames Danish Modern Vintage Hammered Copper Star Pattern Handel? Table Lamp Marked Hubbell SocketsVintage Bronze French Art Nouveau Style Swaying Dancer Nude Lady Statue Old LampOriginal Signed Antique Handel Bronze Metal Overlay Slag Glass Lamp Ex CondAmber Aladdin Washington Drape Kerosene Mantle Lamp & Amber Shade, Model B19th C Iron Rooster Figural Double Betty Lamp Antique Crusie Lamp Grease Lamp Vintage Antique Econolite Christmas Santa Claus Rotating Tree Motion Lamp Aladdin Clear Cathedral Table Lamp W/ Chimney, Mod. 23 Burner & Amber ShadeArt Deco Lamp Base For RepairStunning Art Deco Red Ruby Slag Glass Hugo Schneider Oil Lamp Macbeth Large 20" Antique Slag Glass 8 Bent Panel Table Lamp Shade Bradley & Hubbard EraModel B Aladdin Green Moonstone Oil LampLg. Lot Small Aladdin Kerosene Lamp Parts ~ Filler Caps, Wick Cleaners, Etc. Htf C1890 Vaseline Green Satin Glass Drape Miniature Gwtw Oil Lamp Glows UraniumFenton Daisy Fern Cranberry Opalescent Art Glass Victorian Banquet Parlor Lamp 2Art & Crafts Vaseline Glass Kerosene Oil Duplex Lamp Shade Suit Was BensonGreen Aladdin Washington Drape Kerosene Mantle Lamp Filigree Stem, Shade, Mod.23Vintage Hammered Copper Arts & Crafts Era Slag Glass Table LampAntique Chandelier Lamp Candelabra Brass Bronze 19th C Art Jugendstil NapoleonRare Vintage 1950s Grice & Young World Globe Orrery Lamp - Working OrderAntique Bradley & Hubbard Table Lamp 16 Pc. Stained Glass With Lighthouse SceneAntique Vintage Bronze Lighthouse Light House Nautical Maritime Table LampVtg Fenton Daisy Fern Cranberry Opalescent Art Glass Antique Banquet Parlor LampAladdin Student Kerosene Lamp 75th Anniversary Limited Edition W/ Orig. ShadeAntique Art Nouveau Cherub Rams Head & Urn Slag Glass Metal Filigree Parlor LampWas Benson Arts & Crafts Copper & Brass Kerosene Oil Duplex Burner Lamp Chimney1920 Art Nouveau Slag Glass LampOptimus No 930 Brass Kerosene Lamp Lantern Paraffin With BoxMagnificent C. 1910 Handel Table Lamp W/ Ivy Shade 23" WideVintage Art Deco Bronze Color Metal Cat Lamp Antique Pair Of Working LampsPair Of Vintage Salem Brothers Dual Light Bases For Slag Glass Table Lamps # 18Pair Vintage Desk Bedside Lamp Stilnovo Mid Century Danish Modern 40s 50s 60sRare Antique Opalescent Blue Uranium Art Glass Snowflake Mini Oil Lamp, H1-317Rare Original 1940's / 1950's Robert Mouseman Thompson Oak Table LampAuthentic Antique Handel Lamp Base

Recent News: Lamps

Source: Google News

October 2014 Issue Product Guide
House Beautiful (blog), September 16th

Mirror, antique. Lamp on chest, throw on sofa, vintage. Floor lamp—Mecox; Sconce, Gloria—Paul Ferrante (T); Kitchen: Wall, cabinet, trim, and ceiling color, Ivory White—Benjamin Moore; Fabric on Roman ...Read more

BEAM: Survival of the sleepiest
Evening News and Tribune, September 16th

Six pairs of shoeless feet bounced around our spare bedroom. Up to no good, one could only assume. Two were assuming this Sunday morning. My husband Tim and I woke up to the lively sounds, the continuation of our 8-year-old daughter's first slumber ...Read more

Art and antiques stolen in Bruern burglary
Oxford Mail, September 14th

A PAINTING and an antique lamp were stolen by burglars who forced their way inside a hamlet home through a patio door. A bedside table and a framed sketch were also taken in burglary in Bruern near Milton-under-Wychwood between 11pm on Thursday ...Read more

'Antiques On-The-Go Show' appraisal event starts Sept. 26, September 10th

Or maybe you're remodeling and want to see if there will be a demand for the vintage lamp you've had for years? EJ's Auction & Consignment in Glendale is launching a new series of free “Antiques On-The-Go Show” appraisal events taking place every other ...Read more

Taylor Swift Is a Disturbingly Proficient Hostess
New York Magazine, September 8th

Heading back downstairs, she passes an antique lamp with the inscription CALADIUM SEGUINUM on it. Swift took Latin in high school, but says she isn't sure what it means. (Later, I look it up. It turns out it's a homeopathic remedy for male impotence.)...Read more

Mr. Smith's Auctions Off Most of Its Stuff
Washington City Paper (blog), September 8th

If you want a piece of Mr. Smith's, now's your chance to snag an antique lamp or stained glass window. The Georgetown restaurant closed its M Street NW location after nearly 50 years at the end of last month and has already relocated to a new space...Read more

Garden party potluck event raising funds for A.C. group
Press of Atlantic City, August 26th

For the past two weeks three items - a Chinese vase, an antique lamp and a table lamp - have been advertised in the window of Hart's thrift shop as part of the ACBA's fundraiser auction. Bids will remain open until the day of the garden party when the...Read more

Finding bulb for vintage lamp can be a challenge
Charlotte Observer, August 21st

tool goes here. Finding bulb for vintage lamp can be a challenge. Posted: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. Modified: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. Q: I'm looking for a bulb for an old Tensor 7200 desk lamp. A: Some owners recommend the No. 93 bulb from EiKO Global...Read more