Antique Lamp Safety

The right lamp is the perfect touch to any room. Light in the right intensity and color can make a room go from plain to luxurious, and that is why many people want to furnish rooms with a mellow antique lamp for a little touch of history and romance.

Anyone can find an antique lamp to suit their taste. When lamps were first made, artists made many different and sometimes bizarre forms of lamps. In Europe, some artists made elaborate wire sculptures covered with beads with a light bulb put underneath to make it glow. Tiffany made some electric lamps in very whimsical styles, even to emulate an elaborate Arab oil lamp.

But an antique lamp in a more conventional style might be better for your room. In the late 1800s, manufacturers were making goose-neck, sconce, and candlestick lamps for small spaces, and floor lamps for more lighting.

At the turn of the century, many companies, including Tiffany, made lampshades of soldiered stained glass, painted or art glass. By the time the Arts and Crafts and Art Deco movements moved in, the organic forms of these thirty-year-old lamps were passé. It was not until collectors started seeking these wonderful antique lampshades in the 1970s that Tiffany’s and Steuben’s began to advertise six-digit prices.

Safety First

If you are lucky enough to find an antique lamp in mint condition that suits your taste, check the wiring before plugging it in.

Electric cords do not last forever. The earliest cords were wrapped in silk, which is quite prone to catching fire. Later cords covered with other fabrics are not that much better either. Even plastic cords ought to be replaced for safety’s sake. And because an antique lamp with unsafe wiring is of no value, replacing the wiring will not affect its value.

It is easy to replace the wiring on any antique lamp as home improvement stores sell all the parts you need. Just pull out the old wire and run the new one in its place and attach the socket on top with screws. If the lamp has an odd-shaped shaft, tie the old wire to the new wire before pulling it through and disposing of it.

Today’s bulbs come in bigger, brighter wattages than their antique counterparts. This translates in to more heat. Cloth shades with fringe or loose threads on the inside pose a fire hazard. The seams in soldiered glass lampshades can soften and be prone to damage. For best results, use a low-wattage bulb and new wiring.


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