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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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Heintz for R.H. Macy & Co. Bronze Lamp
Jul 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Heintz for R.H. Macy & Co. Bronze Lamp
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $300- $500
$2004 Bids
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Pair Luxury John-Richard Table Lamps With Ornate Crystal Accents & Antique Finish
Jul 25, 12:00 AM EDT
Pair Luxury John-Richard Table Lamps With Ornate Crystal Accents & Antique Finish
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$44 Bids
Mario Villa (Nicaraguan/Louisiana, 1953-2021), "Nefertiti Lamp"
Jul 28, 10:00 AM CDT
Mario Villa (Nicaraguan/Louisiana, 1953-2021), "Nefertiti Lamp"
by New Orleans Auction Galleries
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$8001 Bid
Gilbert Watrous for Heifetz Kinetic Table Lamp
Jul 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Gilbert Watrous for Heifetz Kinetic Table Lamp
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $600- $800
$1001 Bid
Maitland Smith Victorian House Lamp
Jul 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Maitland Smith Victorian House Lamp
by Alex Cooper
Est: $500- $700
$2501 Bid
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Aladdin Lamp Base & Original Shade, Linked Rectangles
Jul 17, 2:00 PM EDT
Aladdin Lamp Base & Original Shade, Linked Rectangles
by Lion and Unicorn
Est: $10- $200
$101 Bid
After Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin Table Lamp
Jul 18, 1:00 PM CDT
After Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin Table Lamp
by Neal Auction Company
Est: $400- $600
$3001 Bid
John Cook Studios Trumpet Flower Lamp
Jul 19, 8:30 AM EDT
John Cook Studios Trumpet Flower Lamp
by Keystone Auctions LLC
Est: $300- $500
$501 Bid
Frederick Raymond Arts & Crafts Style Table Lamp
Jul 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Frederick Raymond Arts & Crafts Style Table Lamp
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $600- $800
$1001 Bid
PAIR OF ST. CLAIR PAPERWEIGHT ART GLASS LAMPS.
Jul 26, 10:00 AM EDT
PAIR OF ST. CLAIR PAPERWEIGHT ART GLASS LAMPS.
by Amelia Jeffers
Est: $100- $300
$501 Bid
A Pair of Laura Ashley Table Lamps with Mirror Panels
Jul 21, 11:00 AM AEST
A Pair of Laura Ashley Table Lamps with Mirror Panels
by Theodore Bruce Auctioneers & Valuers
Est: AUD50- AUD100
AUD250 Bids
Pair of Wilmar Painted Porcelain Table Lamps
Jul 18, 10:00 AM EDT
Pair of Wilmar Painted Porcelain Table Lamps
by Nye & Company
Est: $50- $500
$250 Bids
ATTERBURY SWAN FIGURAL-STEM KEROSENE STAND LAMP
Jul 26, 9:00 AM EDT
ATTERBURY SWAN FIGURAL-STEM KEROSENE STAND LAMP
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
ATTERBURY SWAN FIGURAL-STEM KEROSENE STAND LAMP
Jul 26, 9:00 AM EDT
ATTERBURY SWAN FIGURAL-STEM KEROSENE STAND LAMP
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $300- $400
$1000 Bids
ATTERBURY SWAN FIGURAL-STEM KEROSENE STAND LAMP
Jul 26, 9:00 AM EDT
ATTERBURY SWAN FIGURAL-STEM KEROSENE STAND LAMP
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
ATTERBURY WILLIAM PENN / HEAD FIGURAL KEROSENE FINGER LAMP
Jul 26, 9:00 AM EDT
ATTERBURY WILLIAM PENN / HEAD FIGURAL KEROSENE FINGER LAMP
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
PERIWINKLE KEROSENE STAND LAMP
Jul 26, 9:00 AM EDT
PERIWINKLE KEROSENE STAND LAMP
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
RIBBED LOOP KEROSENE STAND LAMP
Jul 26, 9:00 AM EDT
RIBBED LOOP KEROSENE STAND LAMP
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
SHIELD AND STAR KEROSENE STAND LAMP
Jul 26, 9:00 AM EDT
SHIELD AND STAR KEROSENE STAND LAMP
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $300- $400
$1000 Bids
GRANT / RAND RIB KEROSENE STAND LAMP
Jul 26, 9:00 AM EDT
GRANT / RAND RIB KEROSENE STAND LAMP
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $100- $150
$400 Bids
GRANT / RAND RIB KEROSENE STAND LAMP
Jul 26, 9:00 AM EDT
GRANT / RAND RIB KEROSENE STAND LAMP
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
GRAPE BAND KEROSENE STAND LAMP
Jul 26, 9:00 AM EDT
GRAPE BAND KEROSENE STAND LAMP
by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates
Est: $200- $300
$500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell American Lamps & Lights


Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates

Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates

Auctions at Showplace

Auctions at Showplace

John Moran Auctioneers

John Moran Auctioneers

Jackson's International

Jackson's International