Louis Comfort Tiffany set the standard for Arts and Crafts lamps with his creations in the late 1800’s into the 1900’s. Some examples can fetch prices in the $100,000’s. Tiffany began his career as a painter, but he is most well known for his lamps, stained glass window and hand-blown glasswork. There are many contemporaries of Tiffany who also produced beautifully crafted lamps.
There was the need to light up homes long before Tiffany, though. The Illuminating Engineering Society website cites the first use of a lamp around 70,000 years ago. The first lamp was made from hollowed stone with a combustible material sprinkled with animal fat to ignite it.
Oil lamps have also been discovered that are over 10,000 years old. However, in the 19th century, Ami Argand is credited with a breakthrough when he designed a circular wick surrounded by a glass chimney. Whale oil was a common fuel for New England but other fish and plant oils were also used. Kerosene began to be used in oil lamps in the mid-1800’s.
The Illuminating Engineering Society credits William Murdoch, of Scotland, with first experimenting with gas lighting in 1792 and believes that he created the first gaslight that year. Gaslights became popular in the late 19th century and early 20th century. They were ornately designed to fit the Victorian era when they were used. Fixtures were often made of brass or iron and are still sought after by antique collectors and designers.
Wilkinson Lamp with Glass Shade sold for $1,340
at our October 2010 Auction
Humphrey Davy demonstrated the first electric lamp in 1801. In 1860, Joseph Swan, of England, created the first electric light bulb. In 1879, Thomas Edison made the first practical light bulb that lasted for hours.
It wasn’t long after Edison’s advancements with the light bulb that Tiffany and others created art glass lamps that used them. The first Tiffany lamp was created in 1895. The Handel Company formed in 1885. They began producing lamps in 1904 that can now sell into the $10,000’s. The Pairpoint Company was founded in 1837 as the Mount Washington Glass Company in South Boston, MA. Pairpoint still continues to make art glass objects in their Sagamore, MA factory. Their “puffy lamps” are very desirable and better pieces can easily fetch amounts in the $1,000’s.
Not all rare lamps are desirable because of the intricate glasswork. Franz Bergmann’s “Orientalist art” bronze lamps are also in high demand. Scenes from the Middle East are often depicted. They were “cold painted” in vibrant colors. Bergman’s works can also sell in the $10,000’s.
There are many other lamp makers whose works are prized by collectors. Some other lamp makers are Dirk Van Erp, Heintz, Roycroft and Pittsburgh.
The next time you turn on that old table lamp, take a closer look and check for maker names and identifying marks. Your lamp may not only brighten your room, but also your day!
Antique auctions are a great way to see prices of lamps and other antiques. You can also help furnish your home or add to your collection. Our next auction is in Worcester on April 24th and the public is always invited. See www.centralmassauctions.com for details.
Contact us at: Central Mass Auctions – Wayne Tuiskula Auctioneer/Appraiser – Estate Specialists: Antique Estate Auctions, Estate Sales and Appraisal Services www.centralmassauctions.com (508-612-6111), firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions about antique auctions and estate sales, call Wayne Tuiskula, Auctioneer/Appraiser at 508-612-6111 or email us today.
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