Major Trend Watch: Vintage Table Lamps

Friday, October 25, 2013 by Mark

stiffel1I’m crazy for Vintage Lighting…table lamps to be precise. Some of my friends call it a fetish..I can’t really stop looking and scouting at flea markets, garage sales, online sites, resale shops, junk shops…everywhere these days. I’m like a bird to shiny things…show me a beautifully designed and polished vintage table lamp and I’m toast. The problem is that I buy many with the intention of using them on a Design project…but you know what’s coming…I keep most of them.

Ostrich eggI have always found that vintage (my preferred period is 1950-1975) has a soul, personality and character. Also, these pieces were designed and produced at a time when there were major family-owned lighting companies that produced museum worthy design out of first rate and high end materials AND manufactured at storied factories in this country…seemingly for the sole purpose of creating “Jewelry for your home” that weighed a ton. In a nutshell…they are so much cooler and much more “out there” then anything that I see today…just like substantially detailed and weighted jewelry of the same period.

stiffel3The major player in this was the Stiffel Lamp Company. This was before overseas production, lighter, less expensive materials and during some of the most successful collaborations between designers and manufacturers.

stiffel2Stiffel created designs that are highly collectable and sought after in today’s market. All Stiffels can be found in a huge price range from under 30.00 to well over several thousand for a pair of better examples.

In addition to luxurious fabrications in ceramic, brass and porcelain, a collaboration with designer Tommi Parzinger, produced some of the most sought after modernist table lamps today.

Anton Parzinger (1903–1981) was a German furniture designer and painter. Born in Munich in 1903, he later moved to New York in 1932, starting his first company in 1939. His works were collected by famous clients, including Billy Baldwin, Marilyn Monroe, and a number of high-fashion New York families. Parzinger’s last showroom, on East 57th Street, was closed not long after his death in 1981. His focus turned to Expressionist painting during the final 15 years of his life, no longer working on designing furniture.

alabaster 3In addition to vintage Stiffel table lamps, my obsession extends to vintage Alabaster lamps. Good examples from the 1940’s to the 1960’s can be very reasonable yet add a priceless sense of bygone classicism to any room. Substantial, weighty and smugly fashion conscience…The larger examples are hard to find but are the ones to snag!

The Best Places to look for great examples online are 1st Dibs (Outstanding selection but usually the pricier varieties), Ebay (All price ranges/ poor condition to perfect), Several Ebay Stores and Etsy. On ground, Flea Markets and Garage sales are the best for finding a deal.

Happy Hunting and always laugh like a kid!


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