When you are in a thrift shop or at a garage sale, it can be hard to determine which types of lamps are antique. Some of them may have a vintage appearance, but how can you tell if they are 20 years old or 200? And how would you determine a knockoff from the real deal?
There is no way to know for sure but being familiar with different types of antique lamps can get you headed in the right direction. This article will discuss what you should be looking for in finding something of value.
Early Antique Lamps
If you are looking for lamps that date way back in time, you will want something that has a reservoir to hold oil and a wick to control how quickly the lamp burns. These lamps were typically made by clay and shaped by hand and were prevalent during the Bronze and Iron Ages up through the Greek period of the 6th century B.C.
During the Greek period through the Middle Ages, molds were introduced. Metal materials became integrated in lamp design starting in the first century AD. Although early models were plain, they became more elaborate over time.
Middle Ages Through to the 18th Century
During this period, lamps designs became more advanced. Glass blowing was introduced, and safety measures were added as glass was used to shield flames and reduce the risk of fire. Metal was being used more often as an alternative to ceramic.
Here are some lamps that became popular during this era:
Cruise lamps came out during the 1600’s and featured a second reservoir to catch oil drippings and reduce wasted oil.
The Betty Lamp came out in the 1700’s and introduced an improved lamp design that allowed the oil wick to drip back into the reservoir. This further helped reduce wasted oil.
Central Draft Lamp: The central draft lamp was invented in 1780 and used a cylindrical wick and chimney to maximize air flow and make the light brighter. It also had a device that allowed the user to control how strongly the wick burned.
Lamps in the 1800’s
These kerosene lamps had a swing arm that provided optimal light for reading. This was achieved by a kerosene reservoir located outside of the lamp itself.
Banquet lamps featured an upper and lower globe and were prominently featured in the movie Gone with the Wind.
Tiffany lamps featured stained glass shades made from small pieces of broken glass taken from stained glass windows. They were first produced in 1876 and sold through 1933. The studio has since closed which adds to their rarity and high price tags.
There are several antique lamps from the 1900’s as well. These will run on electricity and can be quite valuable. You can determine if the lamp is antique by researching manufacturers and looking for maker’s marks and certain design elements.