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    

Htf Ca. 1880s Double Two Burner Manhattan Brass Ny Student Study Oil Lamp Works!Handel Arts Crafts Mission Leaded Slag Glass Antique Bradley Hubbard Era Lamp NrAntique Signed Pittsburg Lamp, Landscape Painting, Glass Shade, NrArts & Crafts, Nouveau Signed Handel "oak Leaves & Acorns" Slag Glass Lamp Antique Leaded Slag Arts & Crafts Wilkinson Table Lamp - Handel Duffner TiffanyAntique Leaded Slag Stained Arts & Crafts Handel Table LampAntique Leaded Slag Arts & Crafts J A Whaley Table Lamp - Handel Duffner TiffanyLimbert Hammered Copper Table Lamp Arts And Craft Stickley Roycroft PeriodHuge Antique Vaseline Uranium & Cranberry Glass Lamp Light Shade Nouveau C1900sAntique Coleman Quick Lite Lantern Nickel Over Brass Shade Lamp Mars Signal Light Railroad Train Caboose Lighted Sign Decor Steampunk Floor LampAntique 19thc Art Glass 10in Student Kerosene Lamp Shade W/ Gold FlecksSuperb Large Vintage Gilt Metal Dragon Wall Sconce Lamp Light FittingsBeautiful Antique Green Uranium Glass Finger Bedside Oil Lamp C1900sNice Ca. 1928 Model 12 Four Post Aladdin Hanging Oil Lamp Frame & Extra BurnersVintage Old Antique Halloween Paper Mache Black Cat Candle Lantern Light Up LampAntique Salesman Sample N.c.l. Co Crank Tubular Lantern Nail City Miniature LampJoseph Lucas & Sons "mediophote" Bicycle Bike Cycle LampVintage George Nelson Howard Miller Bubble Lamp Sconce Herman Mid Century NrAntique Modernist Sight Light Corporation Aluminum Space-age Saucer Table LampStickley Brothers Hammered Copper Lamp Arts And Crafts Limbert Roycroft EraArts Crafts Leaded Slag Glass Antique Vintage Bradley Hubbard Handel Era Lamp NrVery Rare Ml 96 Jacobean Tilley Lamp 1930's For Restoration Restoration ProjectGorgeous Rare Antique Whale Oil Lamp Light Dark Teal Green Sandwich Nr!Rare Retro Vintage Orange Rocket Lamp 60's Atomic Eames For RenovationAntique *boston* Sandwich Glass *whale Oil* LampAntique Vaseline Uranium & Cranberry Glass Oil Lamp Light Shade Nouveau C1900sHandel Arts Crafts Mission Antique Slag Glass Leaded Lamp Bradley Hubbard Era NrAntique 18th Century Iron Betty Lamp Lantern Hook Spike Fine Early Piece AafaArts Crafts Slag Glass Antique Vintage Bradley Hubbard Handel Era Panel Lamp NrAntq/vintage Original C. 1930's Art Deco Figurine Nude Lady Bronze Spelter Lamp Fenton Cranberry Satin Swirled Feather Hurricane LampFrankart Nude Art Deco Nymph Holding Moon Statue Lamp 1930s OriginalOld Miller Electric Lamp Light Base Slag Glass Shade Double 1907 Bryant SocketsVintage Antique Adlake Non-sweating Railroad Lamp Electrified[2of 2] #l11Patent 1889 Dietz Wall Bracket Sconce Non-explosive Tin Oil Lamp Tubular LanternShiny Nickel Chrome Double 2 Burner Hanging Fleur-de-lis Angle Ny Oil Lamp LightShiny Brass C1890s Bristol Clock Embossed Rib Center Draft Oil Lamp Works Great!Vintage Oc White Adjustable Arm Lamp With Mount, Patent Date 1893, SteampunkVintage Industrial Lamp / Wall Light - Glass Dome & 6 Bar Metal Cage Edison 60w Nice Vintage Handlan Railroad Caboose 4 Light Oil Kerosene Lantern Marker LampLuxury Tiffany Lamp -amber Table And Bedside Lamp- La Mona Cast Brass Antique Adlake Presentation Railroad Lantern Lamp, Etched Nickel Plated BrassVintage Art Deco Cast Metal Slip Shade Hanging Lamp, Light, Five Shades, OrnateVintage ,antique ,old Brass Miners Lamp Mining Lamp The Lamp Metal Mesh WornAntique *boston* Sandwich Glass Cut Overlay *lamp* White To CranberryVintage Antique Adlake Non-sweating Railroad Lamp Electrified[1of 2] #l10Unusual Radio Lamp Company Of America Model 500 Radio Lamp Broadcast ReceiverArt Deco Original 1930s Chrome Geometric Table LampBaby Wolf Miner's Flame Safety LampAntique Green Jadeite Aladdin Lamp Never Used Mint Original Condition The BestAntique The W.m. Co Eclipse Tin Kerosene Lantern Vintage Early Lighting Lamp OldRare Ca 1800 Tin Barrel Candle Lamp, Mica Inserts*Vintage Mid Century Modern Laurel Lamp Atomic Mushroom Shape White GlobeElectrified Hlp Cnr Non Sweating Lamp Antique Railroad Switch Lantern CanadianLarge Antique Victorian Pierced Cast Iron Gwtw Shade Banquet Table Lamp Nr YqzLarge Vintage Working Brass & Pewter Victorian Castle Keep Banquet Lamp Nr YqzAntique Dietz Crystal Tin Kerosene Lantern Glass Base Early Lighting Old LampC1910 Electric Lamp Light Base Slag Reverse Paint Shade Odd Double Bryant SocketWaterford Crysyal Lamp Finial