Posted 4 years ago
I love discovering the history of the lamps I restore and this one seems to have quite a story behind it. Called the "Co-Operative" lamp, it was manufactured in Philadelphia by striking members of the Metal Polishers, Buffers, Platers, Brass Molders, and Brass and Silver Workers International Union of North America and sold by striking members of the same union in New York. I discovered the advertisement for this lamp in the February, 1911 issue of the union's journal. The copy of the ad clearly expresses the pride these workers took in their craftsmanship and the products they made. I can only assume that these were made as a way to support the workers when they were on strike.
To me it stands as a monument to the men and women who fought so hard for some the rights we take for granted today (and which seem to be being gradually eroded): adequate pay; safe working environments; the forty-hour work week; the weekend; workers compensation; the eradication of child labor; the creation of a middle class; freedom from punishing and threatening work environments - the list goes on and on.
This particular lamp fits the dimensions described in the ad, but in addition to the Tiffany Green panels, it also has caramel slag glass panels so perhaps those are replacements. It was electrified at some point and has double P&S sockets. The shape reminds me of the Eiffel Tower which had been built about 22 years before, but which I assume still represented modern design.
The mystery about this lamp for me is what companies these striking workers may have been working for. The journal makes fascinating reading, both for learning about the craft of metalwork as well as the history of the labor movement. The stories about C.W. Post of Post cereal fame are particularly disturbing. Not only was he a charlatan (he claimed his cereal could cure all kinds of ills) but he was particularly vicious to his workers. However, I could not identify who the workers who made and sold this beautiful lamp could have been striking against. Any ideas? Sorry the photos are not better.