How Do I Price an Antique Lamp?


Is that old lamp gathering dust in the attic? It may have significant value. Your junk may become someone's treasure. Search for its value the 21st century way or get to the library's resource center.
According to U.S. customs laws, authentic antiques must be 100 years older than the date of sale (see REF 1), but vintage pieces may out-price an antique if it is highly sought after. Study up and in short order you'll have the expertise to price the lamp and have a history lesson of its era.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnifying glass
  • Reference books
  • Online access
  • Transportation to auctions, appraisers, galleries or shops
  • Inspect the lamp base for stamped or incised maker's marks, signatures and paper labels. Lamps from the Far East may have Asian symbols or will specifically state in which country they were created. Look closely and make notes about the shade and the wiring. These are the key details for identifying an antique lamp.

  • Research online using the key elements. First, look for similar lamps that match the shape and style.
    If the artist's name is present, search for it online for an abundance of leads. Many art pricing services and auction houses have searchable databases. Some charge a small fee to use the database or to search past auction pricing for comparison.The public library is a goldmine of free reference materials.

  • Take the lamp to antiques and collectible shops that carry similar styles. Many shop owners will be delighted to assist in appraising the worth of any item for the thrill of a possible catch. Don't be surprised if they want to purchase or consign it. They may give advice about other selling outlets if their shop is not appropriate.

  • Seek out a registered appraiser, particularly when the lamp may be of tremendous value akin to Tiffany, Lalique or early American art pottery. The International Society of Appraisers (ISA) is a non-profit organization that trains and qualifies authorities in all aspects of pricing and will direct you to an appropriate appraiser in the area. It may be important to seek a registered appraisal for insurance purposes.

  • Hop on in to the Antiques Roadshow if it travels to your city. Peruse their website for a searchable archive, tips, resource links and a schedule of their traveling show. Tickets are available through a random drawing.

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  • Photo Credit lamp image by Mat Hayward from
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