Vintage crystal chandeliers: The journey into light
From breathtaking status symbol to glittering above the tub in your master bathroom…
Crystal chandeliers have been a symbol of luxury and opulence since the 18th century, when they were accessible only to those of the highest status (think royalty, nobility, etc.).
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution around 1835, a growing class of prosperous Americans wanted household fixtures that displayed their taste and refinement, as well signaling their increasing status and wealth.
This, of course, usually required dazzling, formal chandelier showstoppers in their foyers, dining rooms and even ballrooms.
Mechanization made it possible to fulfill this demand, allowing for faster and cheaper manufacturing that made chandelier extravagance accessible to the masses.
Vintage chandeliers: The improvements
The introduction of gas and electricity during the Victorian era also impacted the design of chandeliers; introducing innovations such as opaque globes that reduced the brightness of gas illumination and chandeliers that directed light downward — an option only an electric-powered light fixture could offer.
So if you’re wondering what these old crystal chandeliers used to look like, take a peek below at these vintage photos. And, surprise… they looked a lot like new chandeliers do now! An antique crystal chandelier would not look out of place in your home today.
It’s a testament to the classic elegance of these enduring styles that they remain so popular — for everything from home decor to hanging in barns and tents for wedding receptions, banquets and other special events.
In fact, crystal chandeliers remain so ubiquitous in the 21st century, you’ll find they’re even a fairly common decor element in the humble bathrooms, children’s bedrooms and shabby chic she-sheds of an average American suburban home.
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Opulent antique chandeliers with candles and electric candelabras
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Some photos above courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some have been colorized
Large chandelier in the East Room of the White House (1904)
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Antique chandeliers with candle-style lights and scalloped teardrop crystals
Made by I Albert Co., New York City (1941)
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Exclusive American molded glass parts with imported Czecho prisms and trimming
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