Characteristics of Antique Tiffany Lamps | Tiffany Table Lamps
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
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 décor.
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.