How To Value An Antique Crystal Lamp
First of all, what exactly is an Antique Crystal Lamp?
Due to popular demand, many Antique Crystal Lamps being sold either online or in physical shops CLAIM to be antique, although they may actually mean “retro” or “vintage”.
By definition, an “antique” should be something that is over 100 years old. So technically this translates to something that was manufactured earlier than 1918. Although it can also just mean really, really, really old.
Vintage, on the other hand can also mean something old, but are mostly items produced in a later generation. Oh, maybe twenty, fifty, eighty years ago? Also the word itself was primarily used to describe the age of wine.
Buying Lamps For Worth Or For Authenticity
Now, whether you’re into them for their historical worth, or a fan of the manufacturer, or a serious home-decorator, an antique lamps’ worth is in its authenticity. A professional collector, broker or appraiser knows that there are more ways to judge the authenticity of an antique crystal table or floor lamp besides having an official maker’s mark containing its age and origin.
For example, popular lamp manufacturers such as Tiffany Studios (1878-1933) or Bradley and Hubbard (182-1940) would have their names stamped or embossed in the lamps. However, some other makers in that period like Roycroft, Pairpoint Corp, and Fulper could use logos and emblems to mark their products.
There are a few basic ways to determine authenticity of an antique crystal lamp other than that and identifying the real crystals from imitation crystals or glass.
Origins Of Crystal Lamps
First, keeping in mind that crystals were only made popular in home appliances when a pair of father and son scientists named Bragg discovered the structure of real crystals roughly 100 years ago. Then you’ll know that something that claims to be purely hand-crafted, antique and crystal couldn’t have existed in the 1700’s, and would most likely be electrical. Antique glass lamps are more common for kerosene, oil and gas ones produced in that era.
Second, the secret is in the chord. Most antique lamps would have cloth chords, and the actual plugs may have wires and screws totally exposed, unless they have been replaced as with oil that were converted to electrical lamps for usability and safety. Look for signs of wear and tear, shorts and wire exposure before you test them out.
Third, knowledge is key. Knowing your item can help a lot with assessing value. If acquired with a maker’s mark, look it up. The well-known manufacturers and designers would probably have a record of it. Or ask your seller who the previous owners were, the history of family passing down the item, preferably with old letters, photos or witnesses supporting this claim. Being familiar with the original state would also aid in replacing parts such as light bulbs or switches.
Other factors to watch out for would be the condition of the other materials used for the lamp. A shiny metal brass base or sturdy Phillips-head screws and bolts with no signs of age is most likely a reproduction or imitation.
The Popularity Of Crystal Lamps
Have you seen any of the movies that were set in the 1800’s and ever wondered how they make it all seem so alive and romantic, with the mere set-up and lighting? Films such as “The Young Victoria”, “Finding Neverland” and “Hamlet” are just some that I could name off the top of my head. One would have to be a real historical buff to appreciate authentic, out-of-this-world film-making, especially of an era that has not been as documented visually as we would have hoped it to be.
The crystal chandeliers that brought a twinkle to Anna’s eyes as she danced with the King of Siam or Ishmael’s oil lamps out in sea presents themselves to be as valuable not only monetarily, but also historically, in most cases. And out of all these types of ambient lighting available nowadays, collectors pay special attention to the authentic antique crystal lamps, mainly because of its rarity.