The retro electric lighting shown here ranges from popular to obscure, basic to artistic, budget to luxury, and includes some of the most memorable styles, like Tiffany-inspired, art deco, art nouveau, craftsman and mid-century modern.
Popular lamp materials from the past included art glass, brass and other metals, wood, ceramics and porcelain, silk and crystal — all of which you will see below.
Taken together, you will find a wide range of vintage table lamps for some good old-fashioned interior decoration inspiration… or even just a warm and bright trip down memory lane.
Antique electric table lamps from the early 1900s
Art glass electric portable table lamps (early 1900s)
Electric portable lamp featuring an iridile shade with verde ribs (1912)
Antique lamp designs from the 1910s
Electric portables – featuring wood portable Mission oak finish lamps (Craftsman style) and a Butler silver 5-light lamp.
Lamps created by R. Williamson & Co, Chicago
“Titania” and “Lulli” L’Art Noveau lamps (1910)
Unique designer lamps (1910s)
Featuring lamps made of old brass (with a beaded fringe), brushed brass, and a rich gilt and satin globe lamp.
Various Mission oak finish/Craftsman-style art glass lamps from the 1910s
Painted glass Library Table Lamp from Handel (1919)
In the making of these unusual lamps, every device of the artist-craftsman is brought into full play.
The search for the motif; the choice of pleasing lines which shall bring the base in harmony with the shade; the fashioning of the durable materials, and finally the hand-decorating of the shade, make them art objects of permanent attractiveness.
The Library Table Lamp in the illustration is No. 6637 — a lamp of decorative value as well as utility.
Colorful home lamp styles (1920)
A portion of “The lamp as a color note” — by Ethel Davis Seal / Drawings by Marion Dismant
The old idea that a lamp is primarily designed to give light in dark places has become a mere matter of course in the midst of the constant flux of delightful possibilities we are growing daily to associate with the new lamps.
We are learning to demand and to appreciate such factors as beauty of shape, a fine choice of materials, a decorative relation between the lamp base and the shade, stunning color, and, whether we make or buy our lamps, we are learning to require a rich simplicity that is colorful and in good taste,
As a color note in the room nothing can surpass the possibility of the lamp, for whether it is richly dull or brilliantly daring, this choice depending upon the needed accent, in the daytime the color of the unlighted lamp brings out and intensifies the scheme of which it may be the strongest note, or it shines forth as-a jewel against a contrasting setting especially prepared for it.
Antique Handel yellow brass glass lamp (1922)
Handel Lamps are ever in accord with the best in interior decoration.
To the richness of Oriental rugs, the dignity of fine old paintings and the gleam of deep mahogany, they bring harmony of color and grace of line not found in ordinary lamps.
All glass shades are hand-painted, all metal parts superbly finished. Handel Lamp No. 6930 goes admirably on the library table. No. 6993 is a unique floor lamp.
The Handel name is on every Handel Lamp. Look for it.
Striking red and gold Handel table lamp with parrots and flower design (1923)
During the long, bleak evenings of winter, the soft, colorful beauty of a Handel Lamp adds a warm glow of friendly welcome to every room.
So skillfully are the rich colors blended that there is a perfect harmony between shade and standard — between lamp and the most thoughtfully selected interior draperies and furnishings.
The true beauty of permanence is wrought into each Handel Lamp. With ordinary care, it will last for a lifetime. You will find many exquisite designs at the better dealers — one which blends with your decorative plan in every room.
The name “Handel” is on every genuine Handel Lamp. Look for it when you select the lamp for your home or for a distinctive gift. The table lamp illustrated is No. 7026.
European style lamps by Carbone (1927)
Exquisite craftsmanship in iron and clay from over the sea has inspired designers in this country to incorporate the work in our household arts of all times and periods.
Through years of importing Italian, Spanish and French wares, we have been working toward a unification of foreign and domestic ideals and with our lamps have reached a point which brings the merited acclaim of decorators far and wide.
Lamps shown included a bird statuette with flower arrangement (No. G.B 379), a rustic painted jar lamp (No. F.R. 5025), and a green leaf lamp (No. R.V. 2592).
“Masculine” lamps designed by Waylande Gregory (1936)
Sport motifs on lamps for masculine rooms, by Waylande Gregory. Above, a tennis player cut in white on terra cotta porcelain. A tennis net covers the shade.
Center, polo-player on smoky gray porcelain. The shade is natural. Above right, a sailor in white wig-wags on a marine blue base.
Dashing animals, also designed by Waylande Gregory, for gay lamps. Lower left, a giraffe on lemon suede-finished porcelain.
Green wool grass grows an the shade. Center below, painted ponies with wool tails curvet on the shade. Lower right, gray and white zebra on gray and white striped base.
Table lamps… traditional and modern (1937)
Spread shows various lamp styles — including column style, white china, burnished silver, porcelain, cut crystal, heavy crystal, glass, bridge, and more.
Traditional-style vintage table lamp designs
1. Charming for an 18th Century English or French room is the graceful column lamp of shining silver lustre in spiral effect. holding a simple natural colored parchment shade and crystal finial. About 16 inches overall.
2. For a Chinese Chippendale scheme, we have selected this white porcelain lamp with its all-over Chinese floral motif in soft greens and pinks on a teakwood stand. The simple tailored shade is white silk shantung.
3. To complement a Classic or Empire setting is this delicate white china base decorated with a Greek key motif in deep blue and gold lines. Its lovely white silk shade is trimmed with narrow grosgrain bands in blue.
4. Burnished silver over copper shell, in a lovely melon and swirl shape, forms the base of this lamp which rests on a natural wood stand. The beige silk shade has a narrow fold trim in beige and copper faille ribbon.
5. Especially attractive for a traditional living room done in tones of white is this old-white pottery jug with a raised bird and flower design. Its shade of rough white silk shantung has a decorative self-tone binding.
6. Although practical and pleasing in any scheme, this standing thee-light lamp would seem to fit best in a typical Empire card or game room. Of painted tin, it is finished in black and gold. Matching oval-shaped shade.
7. The delicate Spode porcelain lamp above has a lovely floral decoration in reddish brown coloring on a natural wood base. Narrow pink and white folds border the tailored silk shade in a soft pinky copper tone.
8. A “Bibliothec” lamp — and how fitting it is for the well-decorated library! Made of leather to simulate book bindings in reds, greens and browns. it is topped with a natural silk shade with contrasting colored bindings.
Modern-style table lamps from the 1930s
1. This delicate lamp of cut crystal on a chromium silver foot would be charming in a modern bedroom done in pale tones. The bell-shaped taffeta shade in champagne col-or has a small flower motif in self tone.
2. The smart note of emerald green is emphasized in this modern lamp of Sevres porcelain, set on a chromium stand. Emerald green velvet bands decorate the pale pink claire de lune shade. About 25 inches overall.
3. Distinguished both in shape and color is this terra cotta pottery lamp with its raised design of figures. Further to enhance its beauty is a lighter toned terra cotta silk shade having deep bouclé trim in off-white.
4. The striking color combination of this zebra lamp makes it an excellent choice for the modern-minded man’s study. Made of black and white pottery with gray suede cloth shade; black and white grosgrain trim.
5. Any table would be proud to display this beautiful heavy crystal lamp — modern in design. Frosted on two sides, with front and back of clear cut crystal, it holds a diagonal striped silk shade in white; velvet band trim
6. This smart cut-crystal lamp with its swirl-shape pleated ivory taffeta shade has copper silk folds at top and bottom and would be a distinctive note in a contemporary background. It measures 26 inches over all.
7. The modern reading lamp of architectural glass demonstrates a new use of this mate-rial. Shade is topped by disc of slanting metal louvers which rest on the column. Bulb and socket are concealed and light diffused.
8. For your modern brown and beige scheme is this bridge lamp with standard finished in tobacco brown on spun aluminum base, and meeting I.E.S. specifications. Beige silk shade has triple bands in silver and brown.
The Guardsman retro metal desk and table lamps (1939)
Vintage table lamps from Harmony House (1946)
Two sensational lamp developments, representing the utmost progress in post-war lamp design.
Both give a greater light spread… more usable light… because the source of light is lowered! The bulb is the heart of a lamp — and the hearts of these lamps are in the right place… not lost at the top of the shade.
Wanamaker’s vintage lamps (1948)
Light up your Christmas with a hand painted Tyndale china lamp, a Westwood English brass finish urn lamp, an all brass colonial chimney lamp, or any other of these festive lamps.
Whitmer western style lamps (1953)
Westwood Eastern styled lamps (1959)
Lightolier fashionable line of lamps (1953)
Highlight the beauty of your home with Bradley lamps (1953)
Whatever your room theme… whatever your color scheme… Bradley lamps dramatize, emphasize the beauty of your home.
Brilliantly fashioned Bradley originals are perfectly proportioned for maximum lighting efficiency… always pleasing to the eye. Moderately priced, of course.
Choose Bradley lamps — the most beautiful lamps in all the world.
Retro styled lamps by Bradley (1953)
Lightolier — work wonders with light (1959)
Make light of his work with a wonder-working Lightolier desk lamp. The exclusive new molded one-piece shade and diffuser bowl gives a flood of sight-saving, glare-free light. The perforated metal top baffle shields the eye from direct glare.
The three-way switch insures the right amount of light for every need. And the style is lovely in any home: slim, slender, simple… a credit to your taste. Base and shaft in a variety of smart contrasting and matching colors.
It’s just one of Lightolier’s many flexible, fashionable desk lamps (there are floor and wall models, too).
Stiffel classic style pine lamp (1962)
Late British Renaissance (or George I) carved pine urn characteristic of the work of Inigo Jones and H. Tanner, Jun. Unusual frieze on urn with excellent leaves throughout carved ornament retains vestiges of gilt and old whiting.
Vintage Stiffel lamp with cut crystal (1962)
Early 18th Century French candelabrum of Provincial origin with some Flemish influence apparent. Original likely executed in old pewter with steel or brass arms. Finished totally, here, in old golden brass with cut crystal.
Modeline mod style lamps from 1962
Smart! Intelligent! Bright! Lightolier (1962)
Smart, intelligent, bright. To some people these words mean the same thing. To Lightolier, they mean three different things.
Smart is for graceful, attractive lamps like these Lightolier reading lamps. They come in beautiful contrasts of rich walnut and gleaming brass… or in combinations of colors to go with any decorating scheme.
Functional lamps that are intelligently designed for seeing without strain. These exclusive Lightoliers have a one-piece styrene shade and diffuser that provides a wide circle of light — full, pleasing, without glare; one of the most efficient lighting devices ever designed.
And so practical…virtually unbreakable, easily washable.
Early American lamp styles from Grants (1965)
Grant Crest Early American lamps are like the olden days in Williamsburg, Charleston, or Old Salem. Our own designer makes sure of that. And she sees that the manufacturer follows Grants every specification.
We’re rather fussy, you see. We insist that some are hand-antiqued, some hand-finished, and others have hand-blown chimneys. This kind of detail and workmanship could cost you as much as $15 in other stores.
Then how can Grants sell them for $9.99? Easy. Other stores may order a dozen or so at one time. We order thousands. In fact, we sold nearly one million lamps last year alone. Selling so many, we make savings we can pass on to you. Big savings.
And Grants doesn’t stop at Early American. We have styles for any decor. From boudoir to pole lamps. From imported bristols to crystals.
Come see our lamp collection. You’ll quickly know why the W. T Grant Company has been known for values since 1906.
Retro lamps and lampshades (1973)
Featuring spool lamps and parquet-look lamps, for ceiling lights or desk lighting.
Antique inspired table lamps from 1973
Bright 1970s fashion lamps (1973)
Featuring French-style oil lamps, colorful quilted-glass lamps, amber glass lamps, Ginger Jar ceramic lamps, and lamps with simulated cane outer shades.
Cane lampshades on vintage Sears lamps (1973)
The timeless look of Tiffany in the brilliant colors or today.
Mr. Tiffany’s shades were shaped like exquisite Oriental umbrellas. So are Sears. Mr. Tiffany brought color to the Victorian world.
Now Sears brings you the colors for today’s home. Not only our popular walnut tone but brilliant sunflower yellow, bright jungle green and cornflower blue.
The original Tiffany shades were handmade. So are ours. And the columns of every lamp in Sears Cane Collection are made of solid hardwood. (Mr. Tiffany would hove liked that.)
Sears traditional-style brass lamps (1977)
Hand turned and hand finished. Sears brass-plated lamps recall the quality workmanship of centuries gone by.
The bold turnings of the heavy bases are antiqued to a soft deep gleam. Then each base is topped with a finely pleated fabric shade.
Waterford crystal quilt-glass lamp (1978)
Vintage brass Stiffel lamps (1979)
NOW sleek brass lamp collection by Stiffel. The dramatic impact of today’s designs — shining, streamlined, with the unquestioned excellence… a contemoproary lok for floor, wall-mounted, and table lamps.
Retro eighties Stiffel lamps and shades (1980)
If for some the very idea of perfection is unattainable, know that for Stiffel it is a most singular goal. Each lamp we create is a meticulously detailed classic design.
We use, of course, only the finest materials — brass, porcelain, crystal and wood. Then each lamp carefully crafted, plated and finished, often by hand.
Anything less would mean a lamp that is less than perfect. And for Stiffel, that would never do.
Vintage Stiffel living room table lamps made of brass (1980)
Vintage Frederick Cooper plaid-effect designer table lamp (1989)
Vintage Frederick Cooper porcelain table lamp (1989)
Vintage Frederick Cooper floral porcelain table lamp (1989)
Vintage Stiffel large ceramic lamp base (1989)
Vintage Stiffel bedroom table lamp made of brass (1989)
Large brass Marbro vintage table lamp (1988)
Chapman Cathedral column designer table lamp (1988)
Glass etched iris design lamp (1988)
Designer floral pattern lamp by Frederick Cooper (1988)
Vintage lamps with squared crystal column bases topped with porcelain doll heads (1989)
Vintage Marbro Original hand-cast bronze table lamp – Torre di Giotto design (1990)
Vintage Marbro Original alabaster table lamp with curved fabric shade (1990)
Vintage Frederick Cooper metal art nouveau table lamp (1993)