Over the past two centuries, table lamps have become a common appliance in homes and places of business. Whether running on electricity or oil, table lamps have allowed for plenty of variation in design, which is why so many styles have been created, from the decadent Victorian lamps to the functional banker's lamp.
Stained Glass Lamp
The stained glass table lamp is one of most recognizable of all antique lamps. It was originally a product of the Art Noveau movement of the early 20th century. Instead of a cloth shade, it features a half-shell of multicolored glass panes, which create a spectrum of light around the room, depending on the size of the lamp. The most famous type of stained glass lamp is arguably the Tiffany lamp, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose father founded Tiffany & Co. These lamps became known for their beautiful and intricate designs.
Fringed Victorian Lamp
The Victorian era during the second half of the 19th century in England was a time of decadence in just about all decor, including table lamps. One of the more commonly seen Victorian-style table lamps is the fringed variety. These have silk or satin lampshades with a small fringe dangling off the bottom, usually made from either braided fabric or glass beads. The rest of the shade is often covered with intricate, floral-patterned stitching. The original Victorian lamps were fueled by oil, but since these lamps are still widely replicated, an electric version can be found today.
The Astral lamp was another mid-19th-century table lamp. It could be considered even more ornate than the fringed Victorian lamp. Astral table lamps contain no fabric and, aside from a bronze or iron base, are made entirely of glass or crystal, even the shade. The lamp is shaped like an oil lamp with a frosted glass sphere surrounding the flame and a small opening at the top to let out heat. One of the defining features of the Astral lamp is the ring of dangling prisms surrounding the base of the glass shade.
Unlike many other antique table lamps, the banker's lamp is an example of utilitarian, as opposed to decorative, lighting. That's not to say that these lamps do not have their own distinctive style; the green glass shade with the dangling light switch is instantly recognizable. The banker's lamp was designed as an electric lamp, and because of its simplicity and soft lighting, was popular in banks, offices, and libraries throughout the 20th century, and continues to be used today.
- Photo Credit classical lamp image by Robert Kelly from Fotolia.com
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