Art Deco Lamps and LightingBy

Art Deco Lamps


>and Lighting

Lamps and lighting in the Art Deco style have been popular for many years. Streamlined designs of nudes, animals and geometric motifs are pleasing in themselves as well as blending in well with most interior decorating. This article will cover several groups of reproduction art Deco lamps and lighting available in large numbers in malls, shows and auctions.

Singles and Groups

Some of the lamps are one-of-a-kind singles and don't have any convenient rules of identification. The airplane lamp in (Fig. 1), for example, doesn't possess any construction techniques that give away its recent manufacture. The only practical way to distinguish it from an original is side by side comparison.

The edges on new wings are perfectly flat with no forming to give a sense of thickness. Edges of original wings are rounded over like the wings on an actual plane. (see Figs. 5 & 6 ). Propellers spin on both new and old. If you take the lamp completely apart, you'll also find ″©1978″ molded into the bottom of the glass body if it has not been ground off. Details on original glass planes, such as the molded stripes, are finished in silver. The new glass bodies have no decoration at all (see Figs. 3-4). Original glass body and chrome desk lights sold for $400-$800 and up. The reproduction cost around $85.

Fortunately, many reproductions of Art Deco lamps and lighting fall into "groups" according to manufacturer. Such pieces can usually be identified as new by certain features or lamp parts used in most of the group. One such group is shown below. For discussion, we will refer to this group of new lights as the "Chrome Group (CG)."

The basic lamp parts in the CG group are: 1.) winged horse head, 2.) DC-3 style airplane, 3.) a frosted glass base with vertical panels, 4.) the planet Saturn and 5.) two chrome nudes- one with arms raised, the other with hands clasped at waist. The airplane, horse head, nudes and Saturn are pot metal with a thick chrome plating. Lamps in this group come with a variety of new glass shades which are always in a frosted finish and usually clear, blue, or pale green in color.

The airplane is the most interesting of these lamp parts. They are mounted with swivels and can be moved into any position and the propellers turn. Lights inside the airplane and glass base can be lighted separately or together with a three way switch.

Many different lamp combinations are possible using these basic parts. The smoking stand shown in (Fig. 10) on the opposite page, for example, combines three different pieces from the group: airplane at top, frosted glass base for the bottom and the horse heads at each corner of the base. Samples of the other possible combinations are also shown. Remembering the basic figures of this group can help you avoid new lamps made from these parts. Also be alert for the new pieces mixed in with genuinely old lamp parts.

Although new, these reproductions are not cheap. Wholesale price of smoking stand in (Fig. 10), has been known to go for around $450; lamps in (Figs. 7 & 8), have sold for $310 each; airplane lamp in (Fig. 9), has sold for $155.

New shades from Consolidated Glass Co. Molds

A lamp company in Portland, Oregon had some original Consolidated Glass Co. Art Deco shade molds back into production. There were five different molds being used now which are shown in Figs. 15-19 along with the shades' dimensions. At this time all known production was in white glass with a shiny finish and made with only 6″ fitter rims. New shades are, for all practical purposes, identical to originals. The new shades will undoubtedly find their way into the antiques and collectibles market.

Synthetic Materials

Although original Art Deco lamps were made of natural materials such as metal, glass and pottery, that hasn't stopped reproductions from being made in black plastic. The plastic lamps in Figs. 8-9 are frequently represented as "Bakelite" which they are not.

The lamps are made with a matte black finish which is easily painted over with correct period colors like ivory or green. All the lamps are hollow when new but may be filled later to give them added weight. If felt or other coverings hide the opening in the base, the fill material may not be obvious. A small area of all coverings should be lifted from the base on all lamps as a matter of routine.

Summary

Most authentic Art Deco figural lights made ca. 1918-1940 by such manufacturers such as Nuart and Frankart are painted, not chrome plated. Although many original pieces of Art Deco are chrome plated, the majority of figural lamps and figural lamp parts were not.

Most inexpensive original Art Deco era figural lamps produced for the general public were cast pot metal. Most surfaces were then painted although some have finishes which duplicate other metals such as bronze. As far as is known, no authentic human figural lamps in the Art Deco style were ever made in any material that resembles bakelite (plastic). Any lamp made of synthetic materials such as plastic, fiber glass or other similar composition should be viewed as highly suspect.

Any large Art Deco figural glass lamps should be suspect. By large we mean lamps with shades 10″ or more in diameter or bases 10″ or more in height. As a general rule, the only original figural Art Deco lamps with glass bases are the smaller accent or boudoir lamps such as the Saturn shapes, dancers, etc.

Get in the habit of examining every piece that forms a lamp or fixture. New shades and metal parts are easily interchangeable with old originals. Many new parts and pieces can be combined into shapes not shown here. Ask the seller to guarantee the lamp in writing on the receipt noting any legitimate repairs or restorations.

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Fig. 1 Many reproduction Art Deco lamps, like this airplane, are virtually exact copies of vintage originals. This reproduction has a satin finish cobalt blue glass body and chrome plated metal wings, tail and base like the original. Wings 13 1/4″; 7 5/8″ high.

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Fig. 2 Original Art Deco style airplane desk lamp as shown in ca. 1920-30s catalog. The reproduction in (Fig. 1) is a nearly exact copy. Body of plane blue glass; base, wings and tail are chrome plated metal. 13 1/4″ wingspan, 7 5/8″ high.

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Fig. 3 (New plane) This embossed lettering is under the plane's body but covered by the metal bracket which supports the plane. The lamp must be taken apart to find it if it is not ground away. About 4X actual size.

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Fig. 4 (New plane) The molded stripes, or grooves, in the bodies of new planes are not decorated (see arrow). Stripes and other details on originals are colored silver or white.

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Fig. 5 (New wing) The new wings are very nearly perfectly flat at the edge. Wings on originals almost always have edges that are rounded over. See cross sections below.

Cross Section of Wings

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Fig. 6

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Fig. 7 A description of finishes available on Deco lamps as listed in an original 1930 Nuart catalog.

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Fig. 8 Original lamp, painted finish over pot metal.

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Fig. 9 Original lamp, painted finish over pot metal.

New ″Chrome Group″

Lamps in this group can be identified by the shapes illustrated below. Be alert for these parts in various combinations. They could also appear in complete lamps made with a mixture of new parts and genuinely old parts.

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Fig. 10 16″ W × 21″ H. Chrome plated metal nudes arms raised; blue frosted glass base and shade. Note Saturn and standard glass base.

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Fig. 11 Chrome plated metal nudes hand clasped at waist; clear frosted glass shade and base. Note standard glass base.

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Fig. 12 Standard chrome airplane and frosted glass base from this group.

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Fig. 13 Smokestand combining airplane, frosted glass base and winged horse heads.

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Fig. 14 Winged horse head used on desk lamp base. Four of the heads are on the smoke stand above.

New Art Deco Shades
from Original Consolidated Lamp & Glass Co. Molds

A Portland, Oregon lamp company, Rejuvenation Lamp and Fixture sold Art Deco styled light shades made in original Consolidated Glass Co. molds. The molds were purchased from Sinclair Glass Co. in about 1990. Production was by Lynch Glass Co. of West Virginia. All known production at this time was in shiny white glass with 6″ fitter rims. Prices have run from around $28 to $75 (not including hardware). New shades are virtually identical to old.

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Fig. 15 (New) W 10″, H 22″, 6″ fitter

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Fig. 16 (New) W 9″, H 18″, 6″ fitter

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Fig. 17 (New) W 12″, H 14″, 6″ fitter

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Fig. 18 (New) W 13″, H 11″, 6″ fitter

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Fig. 19 (New) W 8″, H 8″, 6″ fitter

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Fig. 20 Page from Consolidated's Martele Commercial Line catalog published in July, 1931. Both the hanging shades shown have been reproduced using the original molds.

Catalog page from Phoenix & Consolidated Art Glass, 1926-1980 by Jack Wilson, © 1989, Antique Publications, Marietta, OH. Reprinted courtesy of Antique Publications.

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Fig. 21New Art Deco lamps. Pot metal with bronze wash, alabaster, onyx and marble bases. Plastic hands and faces imitate the ivory used in originals.

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Fig. 22New Art Deco statues. Pot metal with heavy green patina. Black onyx or black marble bases.