Hanging lamps, which include everything from single pendants to elaborate chandeliers, have illuminated interior spaces for thousands of years. The earliest examples were made of clay and fueled by animal fat. Later, oil was used to fire bronze or glass fixtures.

By the Middle Ages, metal chandelier-like fixtures called polycandelons were hung from the ceilings of churches and other public structures. Some held bowls filled with oil and wicks while others were designed for candles. In fact, the word “chandelier” has its roots in the Latin word for “candle.” Early chandeliers and polycandelons were usually attached to a rope or cable that was looped through a pulley so they could be lowered to be lit, raised into position, then lowered again so candles and wicks could be snuffed.

Gas lamps, which were introduced in the early 1800s, are normally associated with sconces, but hanging gas lamps, called gasoliers, were also used in homes that could afford this newfangled technology. Next came kerosene in 1857. Again, even though we associate kerosene lamps with the chimney-style table lamps made by Aladdin and others, the fuel was also used in hanging Victorian Era lamps.

Because of the heat generated by kerosene and gas lamps, flames were contained by etched glass of various colors—from frosted white to ruby red to multicolored slag—while the lamp’s hardware was typically made of brass. There must have been concerns at the time about the safety of kerosene lamps since they were often advertised as being “non-explosive,” but kerosene lamps burned brighter than gas, so for many the risk was worth it.

While some 19th-century kerosene lamps hung from chains, others were suspended by decorative rods that, in turn, supported a pair, or pairs, of arms. Because kerosene chandeliers required daily maintenance, a pulley was often secreted inside the decorative plate that also hid the lamp’s connection to the ceiling.

As the 20th century dawned and electricity became ubiquitous, many gasoliers and chandeliers were retrofitted. Other types of new hanging lamps included the so-called pan chandeliers, whose light sources were placed at the ends their multiple arms. Then there were hanging lamps that featured Tiffany-like shades over their lights, or clear prismatic glass shades that sent light streaming throughout a room.

The advantage of new hanging lamps, as opposed to retrofitted ones, was that their designs weren't constrained by the presence of fire. Thus, Art Nouveau lamps could be as naturalistic and free-flowing as their designers demanded, while Art Deco fixtures in brushed metal could be accented by shades shaped like bongo drums. By the 1950s and ’60s, the space-age look of Mid-century Modern lamps suggested starbursts and flying saucers, which would hover benignly over nuclear families enjoying meals at their Danish modern dining tables.


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    

1870 1880 Blue Hobnail Bracket Hanging Oil Lamp FontVintage/mid-century Green Crackle Glass Hanging Diffuser Swag Lamp-works GreatRare Revolutionary War Era 12" Heavy Brass Hanging Candle Lamp - Exc PatinaVtg 1970s Grist Mill/water Wheel Rain Lamp Small Hanging Swag Motion & Oil PartsWaterproof Solar Rotatable Outdoor Garden Camping Hanging Led Light Lamp Bulb SlVintage Mineral Oil Rain Hanging Lamp With Virgin Mary Religious LampVintage Moroccan Handcrafted Pierced Hanging Lamp Amber Glass RepairsWaterproof Solar Rotatable Outdoor Garden Camping Hanging Led Light Lamp Bulb Waterproof Solar Rotatable Outdoor Garden Camping Hanging Led Light Lamp Bulb BuWaterproof Solar Rotatable Outdoor Garden Camping Hanging Led Light Lamp Bulb BuWaterproof Solar Rotatable Outdoor Garden Camping Hanging Led Light Lamp Bulb SlFenton Vaseline Glass Opalescent Hobnail Rare Lamp HangingVintage Mid Century Modern Hollywood Hanging Swag Light Lamp. Triple.Vintage Nos Danish Modern Hanging Lamp Fog & Morup Danlite Eames EraAntique Victorian Jeweled Brass Filigree Hanging Candle Light/lamp (20 Jewels Antique Moroccan Pierced Brass Hanging Chandelier Lamp Lantern Light Rare OldHanging Hallway Oil Lamp---w/crystals---ready To UseVintage Wrought Iron Wood Spanish Gothic Hanging Swag Lamp Amber WorksLarge Lot Of Antique Hanging Oil Lamp PartsVintage Capiz Shell Three Tier Hanging Lamp, Beautiful WorkingC. 1900 Consolidated Hanging Grape Gwtw Parlor Banquet Lamp, Antique Satin GlassVintage Mid Century Panels Pendant Hanging Light Swag Lamp Fixture WorksKildark Pendant Unused 238 Rare Pressure Hanging Lantern LampAntique Hanging Ornate Aladdin Model No. 12 Oil Lamp Chimney Hudepohl Beer Hanging Lamp Vintage Bar Sign Poker Table Pool Table LightLot Of 6 Vintage 48" Metal Pendant Hanging Island/industrial Lamps Barn Find!! Antique 1800's Cast Iron Rooster Finial Hanging Betty Mining Whale Oil Lamp Vintage Amber Glass Swag Hanging Lamp With Diffuser RetroNice Small Mg Smoke Bell W/ Glass Loop For Victorian Hanging LampAntique Hanging Oil Lamp Kildark Pendant Unused 238 Rare Pressure Hanging Lantern Lamp Not TilleyVintage Mid Century Hanging Swag Lights Lamps Ceiling Milk White Glass GlobesAntique 3 Lamp Hanging Brass Light Fixture Vintage Golden Amber Glass Brass Swag Hanging Chain Light LampVintage Crystal Glass Ball Prism Florettes Hanging Lamp Shade Set 2Tiffany Style Hanging Lamp Ceiling Chandelier Fixture Stained Glass Shade LightVtg Mid Century Double Hanging Light Swag Lamp Milk Glass GlobeVictorian Cranberry Opalescent Swirl Glass Hanging Lamp35 Pcs Lot Clear Glass Crystal Chandelier Lamp Part Prisms Hanging Drop PendantsSet Of 2 Onion Shape Moroccan Lamp / Votive Holders Hanging Brass Lattice PartsVintage French Original Vintners Pigeon Oil Lamp Wall Hanging Table Desk TopAntique Heavy Brass Hanging Oil Lamp With Duplex Double Burner Antique Vintage Cast Iron Art Deco Hanging Ceiling Light Lamp Fixture ChandelierAntique Victorian Hanging Lamp, Excellent ConditionBrass Dietz No. 20 Junior Wick Hanging Railroad Lantern Lamp Light Nice ShapeVintage Antique Floral Transfer Porcelain Hanging Oil Lamp For Parts S126Solar 22 Led Hanging Tent Light Bulb Outdoor Camping Yard Remote Control Lamp JSolar 22 Led Hanging Tent Light Bulb Outdoor Camping Yard Remote Control Lamp HAntique Primitive Wrought Iron Hanging Betty LampGreat Primitive Forged & Brass Hanging Fluid Betty Lamp 18th -19th Century AafaModern Concrete Wooden Minimalist Pendant Light Ceiling Lamp Hanging Lighting&50pcs Rainbow Chandelier Crystals Lamp Prisms Parts Hanging Drops Pendants 38mm1880 A B & Co. Beaded Bracket Hanging Oil Lamp Font5pcs Rainbow Glass Crystal Chandelier Lamp Part Prism Hanging Drop Pendant 63mmSolar Colorful Spiral Wind Chime Led Hanging Light Garden Yard Lamp Post Cap LpChandelier Crystal Pink Buttterfly Lamp Prisms Part Hanging Wedding Drop PendantWaterproof Solar Rotatable Outdoor Garden Camping Hanging Led Light Lamp Bulb1870's Frosted Star Hanging Or Wall Bracket Oil Lamp FontBeldi (1932 P3) 3 Light Hanging Lamp F613Lot Of Vintage Decorative Hanging Lamp/plant/bird Cage Ceiling Hooks