Posted 3 years ago
Metalcraft Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
My parents first bought these lamps in the early 1950's so I was aware of their beauty for most of my early life. These lamps and airplane ashtrays were made in Canada in the 1940's. I have an Eatons catalog from 1948 with a simple chrome airplane ashtray stand. Of course they were also advertised as Metalcraft Mfg., and over the years I got to know all the parts they used and their differences. During the 1950's they became more elaborate with the onyx (slag) glass inserts at the bottom. The pieces were interchangable and it was possible to get hundreds of varieties from the parts. There were many designs some using the same parts in particular. The lamp in the middle left was a rare 6 foot 5 inch version.
When I started to build these lamps myself I added height by having new rods made in longer length and also added parts to the airplane and twin light ashtray so they could become higher and carry more elaborate parts. My lamps usually had 3 parts that lit up, so the wiring I did had to become more elaborate. The pieces I used were made by the same company as used in the original lamps. The flower part on the lamps shown was quite rare and I wired that small space also with bulbs - sometimes I had to wire just the bulbs and could not use the lamp attachment in that small space. I believe the flower shape agate was only made in Canada but the clear glass ones they used on bases of small table lamps may have been made in the U.S. also, always without a light in them. In Canada the flower agate part was made particularly beautiful as the agate glass here was usually of finer quality in general.
There was also a lamp called the twin light lamp ashtray, which I have included in the 3rd photo. They were made (and sold) with the airplane ashtrays by metalcraft. One is in the third photo. This twin light ashtray was designed with simple chrome base in its infancy stages about 1948 Eaton's catalog. The base in this photo has the most ornate of all the bases ever made of this molded slag glass and the nicest. The nicest slag glass either in Canada or U.S., I always preferred the beauty of the Canadian pieces better. I have had standing airplane ashtrays and tall lamps with the same base. The twin light ashtray as they were called, was also made in the states with different pieces than the canadian one which I prefer to see. The Canadian shades have a nicer flow also.
My mother had a lamp and ashtray stand from this company and I was always in awe of its beauty. I first seen an airplane ashtray stand in 1978 at an auction. In a year I was invited to buy a collection of 21 airplane ashtray stands through a picker. I seemed to buy as many as I could get and put up a lot of them for sale since the mid 1980s. I rewired and rechromed a lot of the ashtrays and at one time had the largest collection in North America. Somehow the art deco shaped twin lights of the U.S. kind of missed the mark of good art deco form.
I always am proud to say the standing airplane ashtray was only made in Canada, although lately they have been offered for sale all around the U.S., mainly as they made their way there, and are hugely popular there. Unfortunately many of the ones from the U.S. have bases that were different than the Canadian ashtray bases and these have been added to the piece later on as pieces got broken in time. They usually seem out of place as the Canadian ones were nicer, although in the U.S. the simple ashtray bases became more art deco looking, so people sometimes think they were made in the 1930's. There are so many varieties and several companies in Toronto, Canada were selling these in the day, along with a connection from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As always the condition is important when trying to gauge price. Most airplane ashtrays were made by metalcraft though at the time they were also made by other Toronto companies and also some in Montreal I believe.
By the way the blue mirrors you see in the last photo were only made in Canada also, particularly in this design. This is the lovebird version, which is quite rare, I had these 2 only plus a 10 inch one along with the 26 inch one. Then there were the Canadian geese ones, the flamingo birds one is beautiful, and the deer version also. You rarely see the blue mirror in the U. S. and when you do they were only made in Canada.