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Author Topic: Mystery Lamp  (Read 14091 times)

Offline Ltjewelbox

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Mystery Lamp
« on: March 07, 2002, 07:00:00 pm »
I have inherited a lamp, but know nothing its history.  There is no signature anywhere on the shade or base.  The bulb sockets and base are all one piece.  On the sockets it has printed, Pat Pend July 6th 1900. Under the date it has the letter (F) inclosed in a circle.  I am in hopes that someone could give me a clue about where it comes from.
Is it American Made?  Any help would be appreciated.

Offline Bob Masters

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2002, 11:36:00 am »
Perhaps a picture might shed a little
"light" (Ha Ha Ha)
It does sound interesting !
-Bob-

Offline Ltjewelbox

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2002, 11:54:00 am »
Thank you for replying.  I will try and have a picture posted by tomorrow.  

Offline Bob Masters

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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2002, 01:37:00 pm »
Great ! I'll be looking forward to seeing it !

Offline Ltjewelbox

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2002, 03:34:00 pm »

Offline bshipinski

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2002, 02:42:00 am »
Not an expert on lamps or antiques, but had some experience and classes related.  
For lack of anyone else replying, this lamp shade looks to be styled after the Empire/Directory period of design, but probably constructed much later.  
Has classic blue/green glasswork and symbols, but looks too high tech for turn of the century.   Base also looks slightly out of sync Empire period design approaching on Nouveau and some Victorian but not quite either.  Mixture of much seemingly.  If I were to guess, I would guess 1920s but I am not an expert.  Have you tried any "Antiques Roadshow" type websites?
How is it wired - what type of wire cord silk covered?   How about the lamp base and plug?  Any makers stamps inside the base?

Offline Ltjewelbox

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2002, 11:28:00 am »
The Lamp has no stamp or signature anywhere on the base or shade.  The only thing I can find on the lamp is on the sockets.  And that would be the date of the Patent. Plus the letter (F) under the date.
The wiring appears to be silk.  IM not an expert at wiring, but it is not covered in Plastic.  It feels like some sort of heavy cloth.  Does that help?  I hope this helps.  I would love to find out the lamps heritage.

[This message has been edited by Ltjewelbox (edited March 13, 2002).]

Offline Ltjewelbox

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2002, 11:38:00 am »
Oh Yes, I couldn't find anything on the plug itself except the letters (U.L.).
Both prongs are the same size.  Not like the plugs of today.
The cord itself runs through a hole in the center of the plug and is spliced at the ends and connected with two screws (one for each side of the wire)
The date on the sockets was 1900.
Hope this helps.
Thanks

Offline bshipinski

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2002, 10:39:00 pm »
Can't find my notes on wire, but this would indicate it as some original wiring dating before the 1940s.  What is the plug made out of?  Remember - plastic was not really in use yet.  Bakelite would probably mean the 1930s.  Porcelin plugs would be useful in saying it is 1920s or before.  Note: the plug would only have 2pins and both equal sized - polorized plugs were not in effect until about the late 50s at best. All this is from memory at least.
By the way, don't use the plug, lamp base or the wiring without sending them to see an electrician or applyance repair person.  You never know what slight problems there might be.  Could work just fine until they get warm enough.  Than start a big fire.  Open faced plugs are also against code now.  Atleast you might want to put on a more modern polorized plug for safety in changing lamps.
The date on the lamp base would probably indicate it as a old lamp base by the way - most would have the patent number.  What is it made out of?  In the end, the lamp must date bet 1909 and 1940 by info given probably 1920s.  Really all the info I know however.

Offline bshipinski

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2002, 11:06:00 pm »
By the way, patent pending, and UL listing would probably indicate this lamp as made in USA.  A UL listed plug, probably means it is not the original plug for the lamp.  You can go on line to find out when Underwriter's Labortory came out.  Especially if it is plastic or rubber like the plug is a probably 1960s replacement.  Replace it with a polarized one.  Beep it out so the neutral (lamp base shell) goes to the silver post - wider prong.  This will ensure that if you remove a live lamp and touch the base you are not shocked.  Check the cord & base really well for oxidation, rust, frays etc.

If the plug is original it means it is at least from 1920.  If the lamp base has a switch on it, as of 1925, the lamp base center was the only approved contact point to be switched.  (A lamp base with the screw shell attached to the switch would not only be dangerous, but indicate the lamp as pre-1925.)  1925 was also the last year you could use other plugs for lamps in a house.
This is out of a recent book called "Old Electrical Wiring" by David Shapiro.

Offline Ltjewelbox

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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2002, 12:27:00 pm »
The plug seems to be made out of a hard rubber. Since I know nothing of wiring, I don't know what bakelite is.  The plug only has 2 pins of equal size.  The end of the plug is opened faced. If you remove the shade from the base, you can see the wiring at the top of the base, it runs down through the middle of the base. There is no switch on the base. The lamp has two light sockets with pull chains. The sockets and the base seem to be all one unit. There is no actual date on the base unless you count the one on the light sockets which says 1900.  The base and the shade seem to be made of some sort of heavy iron.  The lamp weighs a ton. I am glad that you told me of the dangers because I do use the lamp on occasion.  It is very beautiful when it is turned on. Thanks : )

Offline bshipinski

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2002, 10:08:00 pm »
No problem - I wire stage lighting equipment, other fixtures and buy lamps for a living and love playing with the older stuff.  The double lamp base is radicle for such a fixture, you would think it would only need one.  These are standard medium screw "E-26 Medium Screw" base sockets right?  How about the pull chain/switch, best look into it also there are many out there which are scary.  Sounds like a really cool fixture however.  I would "Antiques Road Show" it.  I only have one household "cool" fixtue left it has a bunch of dragons on it which I painted one night when very drunk.  The other fixture a TV topping lamp with a ugely (but I liked it), green dancer fell prey to a random mercury infestation due to my local gas company.  Other than that, I have a few 1960s stage fixtures including one follow spot as big as a motercycle.

Offline Ltjewelbox

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2002, 03:54:00 pm »
Thanks for all of your help. I checked out the UL website and they have been around since 1894 and my lamp has the date of 1900 so I guess its possible that it has the original plug. The only way I can probably find out its history is to take it to a Road Show. But I do appreciate you trying to help me. : )  
If you can think of any thing else that may offer a clue please let me know.

Offline bshipinski

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2002, 10:29:00 pm »
Yea, sorry.  Perhaps they have a website.  By the way, I was saying the plug probably is not original, but the rest is.

Offline Alan Franzman

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Mystery Lamp
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2002, 11:27:00 pm »
BTW bakelite is one of the first plastics, a tough and shiny but somewhat brittle plastic often used in electrical applications, even up to the present.  It is most often black, occasionally brown, and very rarely made in other colors.

Your description of the plug as hard rubber means it is definitely not bakelite (probably really is rubber or vinyl), but I would not be surprised if the switches or sockets contain some bakelite parts.


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Alan "A.J." Franzman

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A.J.