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Characteristics of Antique Tiffany Lamps | Tiffany Table Lamps

Updated on April 7, 2015
Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell is a freelance writer with WriterAccess, webmaster, member of Pinterest Party on FB and the owner of Lake Erie Artist Gallery.

What Makes Authentic Antique Tiffany Lamps Collectible

If you love stained glass, then it is easy to see why the artistry of Tiffany lamps is collectible. Tiffany lamps are an incredible combination of color, glass choice, design, and the application of light to glass. In addition, many antique Tiffany lamps have incredibly beautiful metal lamp bases, with detailed, and sophisticated metalwork.

Each complete Tiffany lamp is truly a piece of practical artwork, one that can be enjoyed each time you view the lamp in sunlight or turn on the lamp in a dark room.

Tiffany lamps are so coveted, that new replicas and reproductions are made to this day, and they themselves are not inexpensive. That is because the glass work cannot be made by machine, at least if you are getting a real stained glass shade or base.

Pictured: Antique Tiffany Lamp c.1920

Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Lamps

Clara Driscoll's design contribution

For quite some time, Tiffany lamps were thought to be designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, for whom the lamps are named. Louis Comfort Tiffany did design some of the geometric style lamps that were made in the earlier versions of the Tiffany lamp design period.

Under his direction, Tiffany craftsmen painstakingly crafted together the tiny geometric pieces of glass by hand, creating beautiful lamp shades that began the stained glass Tiffany lamp tradition.

However, it was discovered fairly recently that a woman, Clara Driscoll, who was the director of the Tiffany Studios' Women's Glass Cutting Department (the "Tiffany Girls"), and her team were responsible for the majority of the creative designs that Tiffany lamps are known for. This includes some of the most famous designs, the Wisteria, Dragonfly, and Peony.

Clara Driscoll's tenure at Tiffany was short lived because only unmarried women were allowed to work at the company, but her influence on the Tiffany designs was quite important. While the geometric designs are beautiful, the floral designs are what made the company famous, and are still copied today.

Copper Foil Method of Stained Glass Used by Tiffany

Labor intensive

There are several methods of creating stained glass panels, and Tiffany Company used the copper foil method of stained glass manufacture. To create a stained glass lampshade using the copper foil method, the designer draws a pattern for the lampshade on paper or cardboard. Then the designer matches each color with an actual color of glass to be used for that piece of the puzzle.

After the pattern is completely matched to glass colors, it is labeled carefully for the craftsman to cut the glass shapes from the appropriate color glass. Glass is marked for the shapes, cut carefully, then each piece is ground to fit perfectly against the neighboring pieces and fit to the pattern.

To join the pieces into a work of stained glass art, the individual pieces are cleaned, then lined on the edges with copper foil. The copper foil is used to conduct the solder between the pieces. The solder acts like the glue to hold the pieces into the pattern.

After soldering the entire lamp shade, the piece is cleaned once again, to remove any residue from the flux, and to show off the beauty of the glass and solder. This is still done today almost the way it was done when Tiffany lamps were new. Each piece is done by hand, and it is a very labor intensive process.

Tiffany Lamp Reproductions | Tiffany Style Lamps

Authentic antique mint condition Tiffany lamps can be outrageously expensive, depending on their design, and date of manufacture. However, you can still have the beauty of a Tiffany lamp design for your home or office by buying a reproduction or copy of a Tiffany lamp. There are many companies that make excellent reproductions, that are sold for a reasonable price, and still remain a piece of beautiful artwork for your d├ęcor.

Reproductions may not come from the original Tiffany Company, but they are still the same design, and patterns as the originals.

Tiffany Lamps: Design and Shapes

Tiffany lamps fall into several main categories, the most famous of which are the Geometric, Transition to Flowers, Flowered Cone, and Flowered Globe lamps. Authentic Tiffany lamps are stamped with the initials LCT for Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The lamps that are replicated the most often are the various flowered styles that have botanical or nature inspired designs. Many use a dragonfly with spread wings as the border around the base of the shade, and others have drooping boughs of flowers that form the basis for the shade. These styles have a universal appeal with their whimsical designs and delightful colors.

The Globe and the Cone were both used by Tiffany in the floor lamps, table lamps, and desk lamps.

If You Want an Original Tiffany, Especially a Rare Tiffany Lamp. . .

Be prepared to dip into your savings.

The rare Tiffany lamps, the museum quality pieces are extremely expensive, and can be found if you know where to look. Dealers of museum quality Tiffany lamps will be able to provide you with provenance for the antiques, and much more as a service to the buyer.

Owning a rare museum quality Tiffany lamp would be a unique privilege, but I would definitely keep it away from your kids or your cat.

To see more Tiffany lamps, and Tiffany style lamps, you can click through any of the links on this page, and continue to browse these lovely lamps.

Which Tiffany Lamp Style is Your Favorite?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      The original Tiffany Lamps that are now antiques...are just to die for! Very informative! Blessed by the Interior Angel.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      I like them all, Paula but I could stand to have a more attractive desk lamp!

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 6 years ago

      They are indeed beautiful. Tiffany lamps - the real antiques are just beautiful. Funny how the woman (Clair Driscoll) gets none of the accolades - at least until recently.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

      Beautiful indeed but I see the current bid on the original tiffany lamp is $195,000! Yes that would make a dent in our savings =D

    • Grandma-Marilyn profile image

      Grandma-Marilyn 6 years ago

      I like anything stained glass and really love the antique tiffany style shade.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      All of them!

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Beautiful tiffany lamps.I will take them all too.

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 6 years ago

      I had a friend who did stained glass and loved watching the process. I don't own a Tiffany lamp, but have admired many that I've seen here and there. Nice selection.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

      I love Tiffany lamps. The one in your introduction was very beautiful.

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 6 years ago

      I definitely prefer those with the floral designs - the Dragonfly is also an old-time-favourite. I once followed a class for stained glass creation, and I was taught the same copper-foil method you explain here. I haven't tried my hand on Tiffany-style lamps, however. Thank you for a nice lens, I didn't know the history behind those beautiful pieces of art.

    • Leilani-m profile image

      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      Great and useful info :) I'm Interior designer and I worked a lot with lighting, but most of it was modern light. I don't know much of Tiffany lamps

    • profile image

      acreativethinker 4 years ago

      Tiffany Table Lamps are so lovely and retro. Very nice lens. Thanks for sharing.

      Take Care :)

    • CorkWay LM profile image

      CorkWay LM 4 years ago

      Beautiful lamps!

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