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American Lamps & Lights

Until the 1800s, most Americans were lighting their homes with candles, an expensive and unreliable light source. Candles were often placed in metal holders so they could be carried from room to room without dripping wax. Elaborate hanging candelabras, which used cut glass to enhance the candlelight, were often found high above dining tables and ballrooms in larger homes.

Oil and gas lamps became commonplace as technology advanced. They sat on furniture and utilized ornate glass chimneys and receptacles to hold the fuel needed for the flame and feed the wick with oxygen so it would continue to burn. When gas lamps first appeared, wall sconces became the de rigueur. They were mounted on the walls of more stately homes to accommodate the gas lines that fed lamps with fuel.

It was not until the invention of the electric light bulb by Thomas Edison around 1878 that American lamps experienced their first real renaissance. At that time, several styles emerged that were meant to diffuse the harsh electric light in the home. Stained glass and patterned shades were two fashionable solutions to this problem.


Quick Facts

  • As new natural resources were discovered throughout America in the 1800s, in-home kerosene and oil lighting became much more accessible
  • Etched glass, while also aesthetically pleasing, served an important purpose in lighthouses by refracting and focusing the light
  • An original Pink Lotus Tiffany lamp fetched $2.8 million at Christie’s in New York in 1997, making it the most expensive American lamp ever sold

Recommended Items at Auction

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Miller Lamp co. Six Panel Slag Glass Lamp
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Miller Lamp co. Six Panel Slag Glass Lamp
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $200- $400
$1509 Bids
Early N.C.R.R. Lantern Frame With I.C. Globe
Oct 07, 8:00 PM EDT
Early N.C.R.R. Lantern Frame With I.C. Globe
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$1904 Bids
Mole Richardson Co. Lighting Type 4031
Oct 01, 10:00 AM MST
Mole Richardson Co. Lighting Type 4031
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$554 Bids
Rare Dietz Navy Deck Standard Lantern
Oct 07, 8:00 PM EDT
Rare Dietz Navy Deck Standard Lantern
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$133 Bids
Karl Springer Modern Faux Snakeskin Table Lamps
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
Karl Springer Modern Faux Snakeskin Table Lamps
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$1002 Bids
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A Rabbto style figural Native American stained glass table lamp
Oct 04, 12:00 PM PDT
A Rabbto style figural Native American stained glass table lamp
by John Moran Auctioneers
Est: $400- $600
$5502 Bids
Rare Dietz King Fireman's Copper Lamp Teal Globe
Oct 15, 10:30 AM EDT
Rare Dietz King Fireman's Copper Lamp Teal Globe
by Terri Peters & Associates
Est: $5- $99,999
$602 Bids
Adlake Union Pacific 1162 Switch Lamp w/ Fork Mounts
Oct 21, 10:00 AM EDT
Adlake Union Pacific 1162 Switch Lamp w/ Fork Mounts
by Rail and Road Auctions
Est: $70- $120
$201 Bid
American Miller Lamp with Slag Glass Shade
Oct 04, 12:00 PM EDT
American Miller Lamp with Slag Glass Shade
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
MICA Table Lamp, USA, 954848
Oct 19, 10:00 AM EDT
MICA Table Lamp, USA, 954848
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $25- $50
$11 Bid
Bradley & Hubbard 8-Panel Slag Glass Lamp.
Oct 01, 11:00 AM CDT
Bradley & Hubbard 8-Panel Slag Glass Lamp.
by Direct Auction Galleries, Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$1001 Bid
Adams & Westlake / Adlake Pere Marquette Railroad Semaphore Lamp
Oct 20, 10:00 AM EDT
Adams & Westlake / Adlake Pere Marquette Railroad Semaphore Lamp
by Rail and Road Auctions
Est: $90- $130
$201 Bid
Art Deco Reverse Painted Panel Lamp
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
Art Deco Reverse Painted Panel Lamp
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $150- $300
$401 Bid
Pair of Dressel Pennsylvania Caboose Marker Lamps - Unfired
Oct 20, 10:00 AM EDT
Pair of Dressel Pennsylvania Caboose Marker Lamps - Unfired
by Rail and Road Auctions
Est: $250- $350
$501 Bid
Adams & Westlake Lake Shore Electric Railway Left Marker Lamp
Oct 21, 10:00 AM EDT
Adams & Westlake Lake Shore Electric Railway Left Marker Lamp
by Rail and Road Auctions
Est: $100- $180
$401 Bid
Adams & Westlake Ohio Electric Railway Company Marker Lamp
Oct 21, 10:00 AM EDT
Adams & Westlake Ohio Electric Railway Company Marker Lamp
by Rail and Road Auctions
Est: $120- $190
$401 Bid
Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad Adams & Westlake Right Marker Lamp
Oct 21, 10:00 AM EDT
Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad Adams & Westlake Right Marker Lamp
by Rail and Road Auctions
Est: $100- $180
$301 Bid
Dietz Elmira King Fireman's Lantern w/Blue Globe
Oct 15, 10:30 AM EDT
Dietz Elmira King Fireman's Lantern w/Blue Globe
by Terri Peters & Associates
Est: $5- $99,999
$251 Bid
STUDENT LAMP
Oct 07, 10:00 AM EDT
STUDENT LAMP
by Withington Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
RICHARD ETTS, AMERICAN (B 1942) PLASTER LAMP AS IS
Sep 30, 11:00 AM EDT
RICHARD ETTS, AMERICAN (B 1942) PLASTER LAMP AS IS
by Westport Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$101 Bid
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WILLIAM BOOGAR (1893-1958) Gull Lamp, 1946, Bronze
Oct 08, 1:00 PM EDT
WILLIAM BOOGAR (1893-1958) Gull Lamp, 1946, Bronze
by Bakker Auctions
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5001 Bid
BRADLEY & HUBBARD ROASE LEADED GLASS TABLE LAMP
Oct 15, 10:00 AM EDT
BRADLEY & HUBBARD ROASE LEADED GLASS TABLE LAMP
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$5001 Bid
American School "Roses" Leaded Glass Table Lamp, USA, circa 1915
Sep 29, 11:00 AM EDT
American School "Roses" Leaded Glass Table Lamp, USA, circa 1915
by Freeman's
Est: $800- $1,200
$4001 Bid

Sellers Who Sell American Lamps & Lights


Rail and Road Auctions

Rail and Road Auctions

Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions

Main Auction Galleries

Main Auction Galleries

Auctions at Showplace

Auctions at Showplace