Antique Lamp Shades

Introduction to Antique Lamp Shades.

An example of lamp shades for antique lamps

Lamp Shades For Antique Lamps

Antique lamps are one of those rare commodities in the antique market. A good example in mint condition is the proverbial needle in the haystack to any antique dealer. Rare antique lamps from the vintage lamp makers are highly sought after; and it is not unreasonable for such an item to fetch in excess of six figures at auction.

A beautiful antique table lamp or an ornamental antique lamp shade can really finish off the character and the style of the room you are redesigning. One of these elegant pieces of history can create a true period feel to any home, and make itself the outstanding feature of your design.

Why Antique Lamp Shades Are so Collectible?

What is it about an antique lamp shade, or a tall corner standing lamp that makes it so desirable? For antique traders and interior designers alike, an antique lamp is not just a commodity to be bought and sold, it has a practical use and an almost emotive attraction. An antique lamp can set the tone for the style and character of a room, and recreate the ambience of a bygone era.

There are several different lighting makers whose work is considered to be antique:

  • Tiffany
  • Bradley & Hubbard
  • Moreau
  • Miller
  • Duffner & Kimberley
  • Eames
  • Causse
  • Frankart

These are just a few of the names to look for; but identifying the originals and recognizing the fakes can be a mine field for the inexperienced.

What Types of Antique Lighting Are Available on the Market?

Interior and exterior design has evolved rapidly over the last few centuries, and lighting forms an integral part of the ambience of any room or outside area.

For the collector who buys lamps for aesthetic or historical reasons there are a variety of antique lamps on the market to fuel their passion.

From original kerosene lamps to elegant floor standing lamps or beautiful stain glass table lamps, the connoisseur will find plenty to suit their taste. For the antique dealer looking to make a profit from a lamp, the market is slightly more difficult to navigate.

It is essential to know how to separate the originals from the reproductions, and what to look for when inspecting the lamp parts for imperfections.

Antique lamp shades in truly excellent condition are not easy to come by; it’s very difficult to predict when a lamp might turn up that’s priced to make a profit viable.

The History behind Antique Lighting

The first lamps used way back in the late 1700’s burned whale oil or lard, and were being used in addition to candles. In the 1850’s kerosene lamps were introduced and quickly became widespread. They were portable lamps so could be carried about the house, which made them very useful.

Although at around the same time gas was being piped into houses in larger cities for wall lighting, kerosene lamps were still used throughout the country in more rural areas right up until the 1930’s. Electricity was introduced in the late 1800’s and slowly began to take over from kerosene as the more modern type of lighting.

The History behind the Lamp Shades

Antique lamp shades have changed immensely over the course of time, from their early crude beginnings to the colourful intricate designs more commonly associated with antique lights.

The first shades used with oil and kerosene lamps were simple glass coverings, usually in the shape of a vase that allowed air to the flame, but protected it from breezes. As time passed the kerosene lamp shades were made taller and thinner. This effect pulled the flame towards the top of the lamp and made it shine brighter.

How did Electricity Change Lamp Manufacturing?

As electricity began to power more and more lamps, not only did the lamps give off a more soothing and softer  light, the shades were less integral to the way the lamp worked. This meant that designers were able to produce shades in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and experiment with different styles and materials.

The stained glass lamp shades associated with designers like Tiffany, really started to take lighting into new directions. No longer just a thing of necessity, a lamp became a thing of beauty. Considered status symbols and signs of wealth, more and more extravagant lamps were designed, with ever increasing skill required by the craftsmen to make them.

What’s so special about Tiffany Lamps?

Antique Tiffany lamp

Antique Tiffany Lamp

During the art nouveau period at the turn of the 20th century, Tiffany Studios was a name that became synonymous with extravagant, decorative lamps.


Renowned for highly skilled craftsmanship and unique stained glass effects, Tiffany lights are the most sought after lamps on the market today. The founder of Tiffany Studios, Louis Comfort Tiffany, developed a passion for glass during his time in Europe and Africa, and is credited with discovering several types of glass while working at Tiffany Studios.

The pieces themselves are intricate creations of delicate stained glass, each one magnificently crafted with tiny fragments of colored glass. Their value can be judged on their general condition and the rarity of the patterns and the colors in the design. One of his rarest lamps, with a leaded glass shade depicting a fish may well attract bids of over a million dollars at auction, where more ‘simple’ designs could easily reach five figures.

How about Buying and Selling?

The buying and selling of an antique lamp or antique lamp parts might actually be the easy part; the hard part is finding the lamp to begin with.

Someone could be just as likely to find a hidden gem at a local yard sale as they might a more credible auction house or antique dealer. It can be an unpredictable market and what is in demand this ‘season’ may not be so coveted next year; a buyer should heighten their chances of a bigger profit by finding out which lamps are really in demand.

Is Condition Important?

As any antique enthusiast will tell you, the careful inspection of the item is of paramount importance; that adage is never truer than when applied to antique lighting.

It is important to check every small part of a lamp for signs of wear and tear, cracks, warps or any other damage or imperfections. One tiny crack can make a fortunes’ worth of difference.

Lamp Shades For Antique Lamps To Create Style

With more people looking to the past for inspiration when it comes to interior design, the antique lamp shade is one of the most desirable furnishings. To truly recreate the ambience of a particular period of history, it is the detail that makes it credible and sympathetic. A classic antique lamp shade in great condition can draw the components of a room together by re-creating the same tones and lighting onto furniture that it would have done in its heyday.


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