Fig. 12 Many new lamps have exposed hardware with no finish. This metal nut is shiny bright steel with no finish although the surrounding surface has a dull antique brass finish.
Fig. 12 Standard chrome airplane and frosted glass base from this group.
Figs. 5-7 These lamps also use a fan-shaped sheet of glass for a shade like the previous lamps. The diagonally posed nude in Fig. 5 is 7 1/2″, the dancing woman in Fig. 6 is 7 1/2″, and the double figure base in Fig. 7 is 8 1/8″. All the lamps shown are available in three finishes: black paint, antique brass (plated), or bare metal.
Fig. 9 The lamp base in Fig. 9 above, is the only direct copy of an original Art Deco base. It is cast zinc with an antique brass finish; comes with a fitter collar for 2 1/4″ globe shades. Measures 4 1/2″ to top of head, a little over 8″ long.
Fig. 10 16″ W × 21″ H. Chrome plated metal nudes arms raised; blue frosted glass base and shade. Note Saturn and standard glass base.
Fig. 1 Reproduction, overall height, 22″. Base is a direct copy of original bronze lamp by Austrian designer Gustav Gurschner.
A lamp company in Portland, Oregon had some original Consolidated Glass Co. Art Deco shade molds back into production. There were five different molds being used now which are shown in Figs. 15-19 along with the shades’ dimensions. At this time all known production was in white glass with a shiny finish and made with only 6″ fitter rims. New shades are, for all practical purposes, identical to originals. The new shades will undoubtedly find their way into the antiques and collectibles market.
Figs. 2-4 Note that the lamps in Figs. 2-4 have the same base. The standing woman lamp in Fig. 2 is 9 3/4″ high; the woman with bird in Fig. 3 is 8″; the kneeling woman in Fig. 4 is 6 1/2″. These lamps are sold unwired and without the glass. You can expect to find many possible combinations or ‘marriages’ between old and new parts, shades and bases.
With the exception of Fig. 9, these new lamps are not direct copies of originals but are attempts to capture the Art Deco period `look’. Wholesale prices were $19-$33 for the bases; wiring and fan shaped glass is extra.
Many of the new shades are very similar in shape in old originals. But there the similarity ends. Where originals would be made of a variety of glass, all the new shades are made from a distinctive mottled glass. Look for large white spatters (Fig. 10) in backgrounds of various colors including purple, amber, green, blue and most widely used, yellow. All of the new mottled glass shades have frosted finishes with ground rims.
New Art Deco Shades from Original Consolidated Lamp & Glass Co. Molds
Catalog page from Phoenix & Consolidated Art Glass, 1926-1980 by Jack Wilson, © 1989, Antique Publications, Marietta, OH. Reprinted courtesy of Antique Publications.
Lamps in this group can be identified by the shapes illustrated below. Be alert for these parts in various combinations. They could also appear in complete lamps made with a mixture of new parts and genuinely old parts.
Some of the more convincing new lamps are those resembling French wrought iron. Although some of the new pieces are in fact iron and not pot metal, the new parts are hollow and cast in molds. Originals are almost always solid bars or rods welded or forged together. Yes, new pieces do have some tiny vines attached by spot welds but the main supports and bases (Fig. 3) are hollow, not solid throughout.
Fig. 22New Art Deco statues. Pot metal with heavy green patina. Black onyx or black marble bases.
Most inexpensive original Art Deco era figural lamps produced for the general public were cast pot metal. Most surfaces were then painted although some have finishes which duplicate other metals such as bronze. As far as is known, no authentic human figural lamps in the Art Deco style were ever made in any material that resembles bakelite (plastic). Any lamp made of synthetic materials such as plastic, fiber glass or other similar composition should be viewed as highly suspect.
Some of the lamps are one-of-a-kind singles and don’t have any convenient rules of identification. The airplane lamp in (Fig. 1), for example, doesn’t possess any construction techniques that give away its recent manufacture. The only practical way to distinguish it from an original is side by side comparison.
Fig. 2 Original Art Deco style airplane desk lamp as shown in ca. 1920-30s catalog. The reproduction in (Fig. 1) is a nearly exact copy. Body of plane blue glass; base, wings and tail are chrome plated metal. 13 1/4″ wingspan, 7 5/8″ high.
Part of the confusion may result from many of the new lamps being direct copies of well known old originals. The lamps in Figs. 1 & 2, for example, are in almost every book on Art Nouveau lighting or decorative lamps. Names of original designers–like Galle, Gurschner, Behrens and others–are prominently mentioned in the company catalog featuring the new lamps. “Art Nouveau” and other related terms are also used throughout the catalog to describe the lamps.
Lamps and lighting in the Art Deco style have been popular for many years. Streamlined designs of nudes, animals and geometric motifs are pleasing in themselves as well as blending in well with most interior decorating. This article will cover several groups of reproduction art Deco lamps and lighting available in large numbers in malls, shows and auctions.
Fig. 13 Smokestand combining airplane, frosted glass base and winged horse heads.
Imitations and Knock-offs of Art Nouveau LampsBy Mark Chervenka
Reproductions of Art Nouveau lamps and lighting have been around for many years. Most have been made with inexpensive pot metal bases and sold without matching shades.
Fig. 21New Art Deco lamps. Pot metal with bronze wash, alabaster, onyx and marble bases. Plastic hands and faces imitate the ivory used in originals.
Although original Art Deco lamps were made of natural materials such as metal, glass and pottery, that hasn’t stopped reproductions from being made in black plastic. The plastic lamps in Figs. 8-9 are frequently represented as “Bakelite” which they are not.
Fig. 4 Reproduction with typical young woman figural base. Chocolate brown patina over pot metal. Mottled glass shade. Overall, 12″.
Fig. 5 Mottled glass shade and base encased in cast brass with antique finish. Faces of women cast into metal. Overall, 22″.
Fig. 4 (New plane) The molded stripes, or grooves, in the bodies of new planes are not decorated (see arrow). Stripes and other details on originals are colored silver or white.
Although new, these reproductions are not cheap. Wholesale price of smoking stand in (Fig. 10), has been known to go for around $450; lamps in (Figs. 7 & 8), have sold for $310 each; airplane lamp in (Fig. 9), has sold for $155.
Fig. 5 (New wing) The new wings are very nearly perfectly flat at the edge. Wings on originals almost always have edges that are rounded over. See cross sections below.
Fig. 8 Fan shaped glass shade shown installed in a standing lady lamp base. The base is 10″. In this base, the glass sheet is held by the “V” shaped holder above the woman’s head. This base is made with an antique brass or shiny brass under lacquer finish.
Fig. 3 Copy of typical French wrought iron table lamp; 14″ tall, shade 3½ × 9″. Originals are made of pieces solid throughout and welded together. On the reproduction, the base and two vertical supports are cast as one continuous hollow piece. Mottled glass shade.
The airplane is the most interesting of these lamp parts. They are mounted with swivels and can be moved into any position and the propellers turn. Lights inside the airplane and glass base can be lighted separately or together with a three way switch.
Fig. 6 Ram heads surround center globe. Brass framed shade has mottled glass insert. Overall, 18″
Any lamp found with the fan shaped glass should be suspect. Authentic Deco lamps virtually never had this type of shade–it is not attached to the base and is easily knocked over. The unsightly bulb socket is also exposed on the back and two sides.
Fortunately, many reproductions of Art Deco lamps and lighting fall into “groups” according to manufacturer. Such pieces can usually be identified as new by certain features or lamp parts used in most of the group. One such group is shown below. For discussion, we will refer to this group of new lights as the “Chrome Group (CG).”
Any large Art Deco figural glass lamps should be suspect. By large we mean lamps with shades 10″ or more in diameter or bases 10″ or more in height. As a general rule, the only original figural Art Deco lamps with glass bases are the smaller accent or boudoir lamps such as the Saturn shapes, dancers, etc.
Fig. 14 Winged horse head used on desk lamp base. Four of the heads are on the smoke stand above.
Fig. 3 (New plane) This embossed lettering is under the plane’s body but covered by the metal bracket which supports the plane. The lamp must be taken apart to find it if it is not ground away. About 4X actual size.
A Portland, Oregon lamp company, Rejuvenation Lamp and Fixture sold Art Deco styled light shades made in original Consolidated Glass Co. molds. The molds were purchased from Sinclair Glass Co. in about 1990. Production was by Lynch Glass Co. of West Virginia. All known production at this time was in shiny white glass with 6″ fitter rims. Prices have run from around $28 to $75 (not including hardware). New shades are virtually identical to old.
Fig. 1 Many reproduction Art Deco lamps, like this airplane, are virtually exact copies of vintage originals. This reproduction has a satin finish cobalt blue glass body and chrome plated metal wings, tail and base like the original. Wings 13 1/4″; 7 5/8″ high.
Get in the habit of examining every piece that forms a lamp or fixture. New shades and metal parts are easily interchangeable with old originals. Many new parts and pieces can be combined into shapes not shown here. Ask the seller to guarantee the lamp in writing on the receipt noting any legitimate repairs or restorations.
In 1999, a new line of Nouveau lighting was introduced with brass and iron bases with “antique” finishes. This particular group of lamps also features matching “art glass” shades. The combination of better metals in the bases and seemingly custom made glass shades has caused some buyers to confuse this line with old originals.
Fig. 11 Chrome plated metal nudes hand clasped at waist; clear frosted glass shade and base. Note standard glass base.
Many different lamp combinations are possible using these basic parts. The smoking stand shown in (Fig. 10) on the opposite page, for example, combines three different pieces from the group: airplane at top, frosted glass base for the bottom and the horse heads at each corner of the base. Samples of the other possible combinations are also shown. Remembering the basic figures of this group can help you avoid new lamps made from these parts. Also be alert for the new pieces mixed in with genuinely old lamp parts.
Fig. 7 A description of finishes available on Deco lamps as listed in an original 1930 Nuart catalog.
Fig. 10 All the new shades on the new lamps shown in this article are made of the same mottled glass. Random blobs and spatters of white glass appear in backgrounds of various colors including purple, amber, yellow, green and blue. All have frosted finishes.
Fig. 7 Urn-shaped lamp, overall, 14″. Mottled glass blown into brass frame with antique finish. Figural women form handles on each side.
Base Top view, with measurements of the base used on Figs. 2-7
Fig. 1 A side view of the new lamps. The fan shaped glass fits in a slot in front of the bulb.
The edges on new wings are perfectly flat with no forming to give a sense of thickness. Edges of original wings are rounded over like the wings on an actual plane. (see Figs. 5 & 6 ). Propellers spin on both new and old. If you take the lamp completely apart, you’ll also find ″©1978″ molded into the bottom of the glass body if it has not been ground off. Details on original glass planes, such as the molded stripes, are finished in silver. The new glass bodies have no decoration at all (see Figs. 3-4). Original glass body and chrome desk lights sold for $400-$800 and up. The reproduction cost around $85.
Fig. 9 No attempt made to hide the electrical cord. Reverse of lamp shown in Fig. 4.
Fig. 20 Page from Consolidated’s Martele Commercial Line catalog published in July, 1931. Both the hanging shades shown have been reproduced using the original molds.
Fig. 8 Nude lamp, 10″ long; slush-cast lead with antique gold doré finish. Note the exposed electrical cord.
Fig. 2 Reproduction, overall height 25″. Hooded woman base in iron is a direct copy of original bronze base by Peter Behrens, Berlin, Germany.
Fig. 11 Almost all the lamps show poor quality including obvious casting seams (black arrow) and grinding marks.
All the new lamps shown here are cast from zinc in the United States. Most are mounted on the same type of triangular-shaped base with a point cut off (see illustration). The shades are basically a fan-shaped piece of glass. The glass fits into a slot behind the figures and in front of a light bulb (Fig. 1). Most of the lamps are available in three finishes: antique brass (plated), black paint or unfinished bare metal.
The basic lamp parts in the CG group are: 1.) winged horse head, 2.) DC-3 style airplane, 3.) a frosted glass base with vertical panels, 4.) the planet Saturn and 5.) two chrome nudes- one with arms raised, the other with hands clasped at waist. The airplane, horse head, nudes and Saturn are pot metal with a thick chrome plating. Lamps in this group come with a variety of new glass shades which are always in a frosted finish and usually clear, blue, or pale green in color.
And last, look at how the lamp is wired. Virtually all period originals, especially those by famous designers, have concealed wiring that blends into the design. Wiring in most reproductions is dictated mostly by the need to keep production costs low, not good design. That’s why exposed wiring (Fig. 8) and wires running in awkward locations (Fig. 9) are generally a sure sign of a reproduction.
The flapper girl look of the Art Deco period has been popular since it began after WW I. That popularity has apparently inspired a series of Deco figural lamps.
The lamps are made with a matte black finish which is easily painted over with correct period colors like ivory or green. All the lamps are hollow when new but may be filled later to give them added weight. If felt or other coverings hide the opening in the base, the fill material may not be obvious. A small area of all coverings should be lifted from the base on all lamps as a matter of routine.
Be sure to carefully inspect the finish. Like most other metal reproductions, there are obvious mold seams and grinding marks never found on originals (Fig. 11) and some parts are unfinished or the finish doesn’t match the rest of the lamp (Fig. 12).
Most authentic Art Deco figural lights made ca. 1918-1940 by such manufacturers such as Nuart and Frankart are painted, not chrome plated. Although many original pieces of Art Deco are chrome plated, the majority of figural lamps and figural lamp parts were not.