If you are in the market for an antique lamp, you must be careful. There are many lamps that are made to look antique, but buyer beware….they are not the real deal. So how can you tell how old the lamp you’re looking at really is and how to determine a table lap’s manufacturing year? Here are a few tips.
Identify the Style of Lamp to Determine Lamp’s Manufacturing Year
The first thing you will want to do is identify the style of the lamp you are considering purchasing. Examples include art deco, art nouveau, hurricane, ship’s lamp and so on.
While these lamp styles have all been reproduced over the years, identifying them will help you determine what materials were being used and which manufacturers were active at the time the lamp would have come out. You can go from there to determine if they are real.
If you are looking for a specific designer, you may be able to figure out if they manufactured the lamp based on signature stamps, shapes, carvings, colors and more.
For instance, Tiffany was known for producing bronze lamps with leaded glass shades. 20th century lamps were made of brass and typically finished with lacquer. Depression era lamps were made from low quality materials like delicate polychrome or gilt and then painted or gilded.
If you need assistance, Antique Lamp Co. provides a lamp identification chart that lists basic lamp styles and their possible manufacturers.
Lamp Maker’s Mark to Determine Lamp’s Manufacturing Year
The best way to tell if a lamp is the real thing is to look for the maker’s mark. This is usually embedded into the base of the lamp, but it may also be on the fixture itself.
The marks are often very small so it’s best to have a magnifying glass handy. They may also be covered in dirt and dust so it’s best to have a cleaning cloth and gentle cleaning solution nearby.
If you can’t find a maker’s mark, it doesn’t mean the lamp isn’t real. Components that once had the maker’s mark may have been replaced. That’s why you should also consider other characteristics of the lamp’s style.
The Lamp Plug to Determine Lamp’s Manufacturing Year
The lamp cord is also telling of its age. Older electrical lamps had cotton wrapped cords with prongs that were the same size. These vary from modern cords that have one prong longer than the other to fit polarized outlets that didn’t become popular until the 1960’s.
Other signs of antique cords include screws and wires around the plug and fabric covers.
However, plugs are a component of the lamp that’s often switched out over time. If the plug looks old, it may have the characteristics described above. If the cord looks new, you won’t be able to apply these standards.
Antique lamps provide a stylish aesthetic, and they make a great investment. But they won’t be worth nearly as much if they are not real. Now that you know what to look for in an antique lamp, you can determine which are authentic and which are not. Good luck locating those rare finds.
If you have questions please give us a call at (773) 866-0220 or visit our website for consultation.