First let us define an antique lamp as one from a bygone era which is a long indefinite time period. Determination of an antique lamp includes some time period designation normally in the form of “circa year”. i.e. “circa 1905” which literally means “about the year 1905”. So the term “antique lamp” will be used on this basis and often substituted with the term “vintage”.
So you have decided to purchase a lamp. There are numerous design questions to consider such as height, girth, color, style, function and of course price. But have you seriously considered searching exclusively for a vintage lamp ? Probably not. Our entire culture is so strongly influenced by advertising of mass produced products including lamps, that we are programmed to think only in terms of what has been presented by the mass merchants. Aesthetically this has huge repercussions because we all end up owning the same home decor items and nothing is exclusive or unique. You end up buying the same lamp that your neighbor bought, that his neighbor bought and so forth.
Here is a real life story that happened just this very week. A very nice interior designer from Gastonia who specializes in fine high design home decor came into my lamp shop here in Lincolnton, North Carolina. She was looking for a unique and special lamp for one of her clients. After visiting with us and looking around for some time, she found a 1 of a kind cast metal and onyx lamp which we had designed and made here. We label our lamps individually so that our customers know a little something about them while browsing so she knew this lamp was exclusive to our store and that only one lamp had ever been made. She brought the lamp to the register and told me how much she loved the design and the fact that it was truly unique. I explained to her that we designed and made this lamp and that it was not available anywhere else. She was so happy about this and she told me of another recent lamp purchase which she had made… She had recently found this certain lamp a dealer’s store and she thought it was really nice so she bought it. She had the lamp for some weeks when she was out shopping and found the exact lamp at another store. Right then it became obvious that this was a highly produced lamp and there were likely many thousands of them in stores everywhere worldwide. Let’s suffice it to say that her lamp stock suddenly plunged ! She took the lamp back to the dealer immediately.
The story above exemplifies only one reason why you should consider an antique lamp. There are many more reasons to purchase an antique lamp not the least of which is quality and craftsmanship. The overwhelming majority of lamps produced today are made of resin (poly) of one sort or another. This material is wonderful in the way it can be molded and painted plus it is cheap to produce. But you will probably end up throwing these lamps away sooner or later. The material is brittle, hollow, fragile and it chips and breaks very easily. You will likely not be giving these lamps to your grand children, not even your children. This poly resin material reminds me of the chalk ware lamps from circa 1950. These lamps are rarely if ever found in one piece. They were cheap back then and they are usually worthless now. Buying a poly resin lamp is fine as long as you know that you are buying a throw away product. Antique lamps from the late 1800’s – 1930 were very commonly made of the very finest quality materials such as iron, brass, bronze, marble, onyx and steel. Many of these antique lamps will still be around in another 100 years and their stock price is definitely up !
A very good reason to purchase an antique lamp is the current and future value of the lamp. Many of the antique lamps produced around 1900-1930 commonly sell for 10 – 20 times their original retail price. It is not unusual to find numerous lamps selling for 100 times the original retail price. There are some selling for incredible amounts compared to what they sold for when new – See WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE LAMP in the BIOGRAPHY below. See LAMP APPRAISALS PLUS LAMP HISTORY in the BIOGRAPHY below.
Finally, one of the best reasons to purchase an antique lamp is style and beauty. Many of these lamps produced during the Art Nouveau or Arts and Crafts period are magnificent and timeless and their beauty and design are mimicked throughout nearly every culture on earth. They were made with care and with pride to last for many generations to enjoy.
– Jim Hoyle
Biography: Since 1979 Jim Hoyle has owned and operated Lamp & Home Outlet – North Carolina’s Most Exclusive Unique Lamps and Lamp Shades. Jim designs and manufactures fine cast metal table lamps and floor lamps and collects, sells, repairs, restores and appraises antique lamps from special acquisitions and estates worldwide. His company also specializes in lamp and home decor factory buyouts and warehouse closings.