SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
Houzz Logo Print
dingoaint

old floor lamp: what, when, and huh?

Fori
3 months ago

I've had this lamp for a long time--it's been mostly in storage because I broke the shade and can't find another that fits.


I always assumed it was brass. I dragged it out and tried to clean it up for real today and no, it's plated with something silvery under a decaying yellowed lacquer (or some other old topcoat). It's possibly been antiqued. Or filthy. Definitely filthy. The "antiquing" rubs off with a little effort, but so does the lacquer.


The lamp is 63" tall to the top of the sockets. It had a wide, shallow, open-topped etched (narrow stripes) glass shade. The three bulbs were the only thing holding the shade in place on top of the lamp--no neck, no screws.


I'm trying to figure out:

1. what style is this and when was it popular?

2. what is the finish and what should it be?


Any ideas? Thanks!





...



Closeup of color under the flaking lacquer:



Comments (32)

  • Olychick
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Is it possible it was originally that bone color and someone spray painted it with gold paint? Looks 1960's to me, but I'm no expert! Could it have been a torchiere and someone broke the glass shade and just set a regular shade on the top? eta: I don't see any torchiere type shades with a hole big enough to work, just doing a quick search. But I remember lamps with glass over the bulbs, open at the top with a regular lamp shade just setting on top with the wires holding it in place on the glass.

    eta: like this:


    Fori thanked Olychick
  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Good question, Oly! It's hard to tell from photos but it's a definite polished silver colored metal under the gold. It's possible that the gold coating was tinted when applied and it isn't yellow just due to age though.

    I think the top is painted whitish so it doesn't show through the shade. The shade was approximately like this one (this is the only one I've found that is correct in 25+ years of on again off again searching, but I don't like the leaf pattern for this): https://www.mylampparts.com/products/sl40031

    There's no attachment for a shade. It just sits on that ledge. It's pretty safe until someone like me comes around. I'm pretty sure this is the original shade type--the lamp belonged to a lady who would not have used an "incorrect" shade if she ever broke anything (which in itself is unimaginable). There's also no way to attach any other type of shade--trust me I've tried!

    I'm pretty sure it dates to the 1970s or earlier and 60s feels right to me too. Thanks!

  • Related Discussions

    Old house shakes when bounce on floor?

    Q

    Comments (2)
    I wonder if putting the treadmill on a mat of some sort might help, maybe something similar to what I have linked below. Here is a link that might be useful: Soft floor tiles
    ...See More

    When to give up on old wooden floor ?

    Q

    Comments (3)
    If the wood of both floors match as to species and width, then I would suggest calling in a professional to remove the 1940's section and relay it by weaving it into the older portion. It would require some carefully selected new material to incorporate into the job, but this is not impossible for a restoration flooring professional and is done every day. It is, however, quite a challenge for the average DIY'er.
    ...See More

    how to rewire old 3 way floor lamp..

    Q

    Comments (8)
    This one is similar. The vertical conduit stops at a decorative round box that apparently housed a night light controlled by a switch on the top of the box. Then the candelabra armature continued up and the torch base finished the top. I managed to get everything apart except that box for the night light. I couldn't figure out how to separate the top from the bottom so I could access the push button switch and night light. What puzzled me was that it seemed impossible to get apart but there had to be a way to change a night light bulb. So as not to cause any damage, I took it to a lamp shop and should get it back i a week. What's interesting is as I was explaining my problem to the shop owner, I twisted that box and it opened. It turned out to be threaded and I must have loosened it up with my earlier efforts. So, thanks for trying and now we all know how to change a night light bulb. The only question I have left is the age of this lamp. I've seen a photo from 1953, so we know it's at least 70. My guess is probably manufactured in the '20's.
    ...See More

    What to change when selling old house

    Q

    Comments (8)
    How much will small changes increase your profit? A few months ago, I purchased a 1939 house. I wish the previous owners hadn't done anything to it. (Okay, it was good to have the asbestos and lead out of there). They replaced original lights with stuff that I'm taking out, whereas I'm having an electrician fix the originals. The "newer" stuff, I've ripped out. I'm doing a major renovation and adding a first floor master. I've salvaged the sinks and am installing new faucets. I'm having the tub refinished. I took out the 1950's vinyl and tile and installed subway and penny floor tile. The toilets had been replaced to good Toto, so that was a plus.
    ...See More
  • Olychick
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    I wonder if you couldn't just find a replacement shade for a ceiling light that could work? When you first posted, I assumed you meant a regular lampshade out of fabric and wire.


    There are a gazillion of things like these - not all alabaster glass, but don't know the size of your opening...


    Fori thanked Olychick
  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thanks! It's that 4" opening that's been the problem. I had resolved to assigning my kids the job to 3D print one--plastic is not a bad option for my household.


    But now apparently I get to strip it first!


    I can probably rig a fabric shade to it. It was just so sleek and glamorous with the original shade though...


    :)

  • palimpsest
    3 months ago

    It's pot metal. Probably 1950s-60s.

    Fori thanked palimpsest
  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thanks--is it chromed? It is super shiny under the crud, and the crud really reminds me of old lacquer when it's ambered and starting to crumble (the old fashioned nitrocellulose stuff). It's also magnetic, but the magnet I was using is probably potent enough to pick up a rod running up the column...

  • Fori thanked palimpsest
  • elcieg
    3 months ago

    It is white metal with a brass plating identified by scratching the gold surface to see silver underneath. The lamp is old enough to be called vintage, but it isn't an antique, nor is it valuable.

    It would need to be rewired.

    Fori thanked elcieg
  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thanks. I know the photos stink! It's not actually brass plated though. The yellow stuff is not brass or metallic at all. It comes off with solvent. Or fingernails. But not dish soap.


    I realize it is neither valuable nor and antique. I am trying to narrow down it's age to assist in finding an appropriate shade.


    Fortunately, the wiring is fine--as you said, it's not an antique. It does have a few paint spatters because with 3 bulbs and no shade, it's amazing at lighting up a room for painting, especially ceilings... :)

  • nicole___
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    I "had" an old floor lamp. Rewired it. Then used a pedestal glass fruit bowl for the shade, then inverted the metal base to hold the shade on. I needed a reading lamp, not a torchier. Ended up donating it. But....the shade worked.

    Fori thanked nicole___
  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thanks y'all! I have always liked this particular lamp. It has nice lines with the proper shade and is good at illuminating--the 3 bulbs all stick out past their mounts so with a glass shade you get light in all directions. Shaped like a torchiere but works like a proper lamp.


    That's a good site, bbstx and it's good to have a recommendation for them since I may have use for them in the future (I like lamps!). Unfortunately they don't have the right shade. It's an odd one for sure!


    Still trying to figure out the plating. It's a whiteish-silvery metal and was lacquered either to prevent tarnish or protect antiquing. If it was antiqued, too bad. The lacquer is shot and has to go. I will have to pull out my respirator for the next step. 🤢

  • SeattleMCM
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    That plating reminds me of some of my vintage pieces from the 60s-70s. I don't know what it's called, but it was clearly done to bring costs down. I don't think the yellow layer is supposed to come off that easily, so it's possible that yours is doing it from age or sun damage.

    If you want to restore the look, clean off as much of that yellow plating as you can, give it a light scuffing with a scotch brite pad, and then spray paint it.

    I find that most of the gold paint at lowes / home depot are too bright. If you want to find a shade that's darker and/or warmer,this blog and this blog and have some good side-by-side comparisons. (I would not recommend gold rub-n-buff, it doesn't adhere to smooth metal very well and can wind up being a streaky mess.)

    If you want to restore the darkened antique-y look, spray paint it gold first, and then go over it with black rub-n-buff (which can stick to spray paint nicely).

    Fori thanked SeattleMCM
  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thanks. Those are some options I'll consider, depending on what it looks like. I suspect that is has not always been goldish. :)


    I'm fairly confident that the yellow is intended to be a clear coat, and not yellow. It's definitely not a plating. I have an accidental collection of vintage brass instruments and the old nitrocellulose lacquers on those ambers with age and will get brittle and let go depending on how the instrument has been kept. I may snip the cord on this and give it the trombone treatment if I can take it apart...


    (And yeah, I can afford new lamps.)

  • nicole___
    3 months ago

    I can afford all kinds of things....that's not he point of keeping COOL pieces out of land fills. Also when it's a project...you have a piece of yourself invested into it. ❤️

    Fori thanked nicole___
  • SeattleMCM
    3 months ago

    If you take the lamp apart for rewiring, lay out all of the pieces in the order they were attached and take a picture. It's a handy reference when it's time to put everything back together. Sometimes I think something is so simple I won't forget, half the time I forget anyway.

    Fori thanked SeattleMCM
  • Michael Hilber
    3 months ago



    The lamp I have looks like this one, a very common type, inexpensive, from the mid 1950's or 60's I think. We've had it since early 1960's. It's meant to look like brass but it is certainly not brass.

    So anyway I think yours is of the same vintage or a little earlier.

    Fori thanked Michael Hilber
  • bbstx
    3 months ago

    Fori, I think you need to take your lamp to a lamp shop or at least call Antique Lamp Supply and see if you can send them pictures. The more I look at your lamp, the more I’m convinced it never had a ”bowl” like the bowl in the picture immediately above and the one posted by olychick. I have had several of those style lamps. There is only one bulb inside the bowl, not 3 like your picture shows. Plus, the one bulb IME has a mogul base.


    I wonder if your lamp has been cobbled together out of found parts? The bowls like pictured above have set screws that hold them onto the lamp. There is no mechanism on your lamp that would allow for that. I’m intrigued. Hope you find a definitive answer!

    Fori thanked bbstx
  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Ah but it did have a bowl. I broke it myself!! :) It was like the one Iinked--this:



    But with a more formal pattern, and possibly flatter and wider. I don't like this pattern with this lamp but it's a backup.

    In the meantime, I started taking it apart and...well it doesn't want to come apart but I think it has been rewired. The plug is one of those DIY snap-ons and surely you don't get this type of connector from the factory do you? Or do you? So maybe it IS an assemblage of parts but it seems unlikely based on what I know if the original owner.



  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    After further paying attention to Things,

    1. I posted an image of the shade but it won't show...it's at the link.

    2. This has definitely been rewired up to and including the 3way switch. The wiring from the switch to sockets is old cloth stuff and the old wiring is in an old ceramic twisty connector. The newer wiring is in plastic ones. So I'm not going to get any clues from the wiring.

  • bbstx
    3 months ago

    I’m still doggedly hanging on to ”cobbled together.” I can’t imagine a torchiere where the only thing holding the bowl on are the light bulbs.


    Is there any indication that part with the sockets at one time was a ceiling fixture that would have looked something like this? I searched the internet high and low to find a picture of just the socket portion but came up dry.



    Fori thanked bbstx
  • bbstx
    3 months ago

    I have used metallic Sophisticated Finishes by Triangle Coatings before to paint an old floor lamp. The small bottle is sufficient for 2 coats on your lamp. I bought mine at Michael’s but I notice that it is now also sold on AMZ. I did a lamp for myself and one for DD. It wasn’t difficult and I got good results each time.


    I cleaned the lamp well. Taped off all the electrical parts and anything else you don’t want to get paint on. In addition to taping off the sockets, I stuff something into the sockets to make doubly sure they don’t get paint in them. Then I spray painted with a metallic primer (probably Rustoleum or Krylon). I applied the metallic paint with a foam brush, using a paper plate as my palette. It bubbles a little bit but lays down quickly.

  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Maybe? Wish I could find a photo of something similar!


    But the lightbulbs don't really support the shade. That's an exaggeration to emphasize the total lack of screws or anything but gravity holding it in place. But the bulbs have to be removed to remove the shade. Fits like (curve increased for drawing to fit in image--should be wider to accommodate bulbs):




  • bbstx
    3 months ago

    Are there holes in the, for lack of a better term, base plate such that screws would have gone through to hold it onto the ceiling?


    Fori thanked bbstx
  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    There's a hole in the middle that the threaded post goes through. It could be used for other things I guess but it fits so nicely on the base.




  • Michael Hilber
    3 months ago



    This is a two socket ceiling light fixture, which my bedrooms have. They are probably 1950 vintage. They have a hole in the center for the wires to pass through to the sockets.




    Here is my lamp for whatever it's worth. It is similar to the one in question, except for the top part. There is some thin pressed steel that is painted to look like brass. The main lamp shaft is white, looks like some good enamel paint because it looks good considering it's age. At the top of the white shaft is a cast metal piece also made to look like brass. Above the cast metal piece is the thin pressed steel.



  • Michael Hilber
    3 months ago

    When this lamp of mine was used by my parents it did have a shade sitting on top of it, as shown above in the second post in this thread. It needs a shade otherwise the 3 bulbs would be just exposed.


    The center bulb in the torcher glass, by the way, is a big bulb with 3 brightnesses, and you twist the switch, one, two, three, to choose the brightness. I suppose it has 3 filaments.


    Fori thanked Michael Hilber
  • bbstx
    3 months ago

    Fori, I don’t remember where you are located, but if there is a lamp shop nearby, I’d be tempted to take you lamp for them to look over.

    Fori thanked bbstx
  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thanks all!


    Michael, your lamp has the normal, sensible shade system and it seems that style was popular for at least 50 years. I guess it technically takes 2 shades but they are still available.


    Well, at least mine takes normal lightbulbs. :)


    BB, I'm not sure what a lamp shop would do with it! I can look around for some restorers though, although it's not worth restoring unless I can find a shade. The shade made it. I WOULD like to know what the metal is supposed to look like.


    The lamp is in pieces right now and mostly cleaned. The bits are all plated and lacquered. I assume it's not chrome because you don't bother lacquering chrome. And I'm quite sure it's nitrocellulose lacquer. (I've delacquered enough brass instruments from this era.)


    I do have to do the pole still. That'll be a bathtub job. And this is why every home needs a tub, even if everyone showers.


  • SeattleMCM
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Rather than a new lamp store, look for stores that sell vintage lighting. They often restore the lamps before selling them. If you brought your lamp in, they might be able to help you identify proper parts to fix it.

    For example, Hippo Hardware in Portland Oregon offers this service. They're like a Habitat for Humanity Re Store, but nicer. If you don't have a place like that in your area, maybe Hippo could help you over email.

    Fori thanked SeattleMCM
  • Fori
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Thanks! I remember when Rejuvenation was a Portland lamp repair store...before they got bought out by the borg.


    There's really nothing wrong with it aside from a missing shade. That and the fact that someone took it apart. Teehee.


    I will certainly see if they can get me a shade!

  • Michael Hilber
    3 months ago

    Try eBay because you will find more oddball stuff there. Perform a search for "Torchiere glass"

    https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2380057.m570.l1313&_nkw=Torchiere+glass&_sacat=0

    It seems most have "fitter" sizes of 3.5, 3.25 and smaller. Most under 3 inches.



    Fori thanked Michael Hilber