Gothic Candlesticks and Antique Lighting

Antique Lighting Fixtures - Gothic Candlesticks and Antique Lighting History

Gothic Candlesticks
Crude candles first saw the light of day in the Roman era, but true candles in their present form are only around 1,000 years old. The main ingredients used to make candles were tallow and beeswax, but given their cost candles were considered to be a very expensive luxury. Bayberries were also used as a source of candle wax in certain countries and they were highly appreciated for their bright flame and their fragrance when extinguished, but these were expensive too.

UPDATE : Check out too this excellent guide from Amazon Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide: Identifying Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Lighting (A Schiffer Book for Collectors)

Spermaceti candles are very high quality candles that were first manufactured in 1750, they were made from the waxy solid found inside the heads of sperm whales.

Gothic Candlesticks

Gothic Candlesticks Gothic items, including candlesticks are very fashionable at the moment, given the popularity of all things gothic-related and vampire stories such as the Vampie Diaries by L J Smith (or is that Ljane Smith?). Gothic candlesticks were designed originally with just a stem and a knob called a knop. During the William and Mary period designs became more elaborate with polygonal shapres and vertical baluster bases. During the Queen Anne period candlesticks became more delicate, the stems were octagonal and the bases square. Georgian candlesticks on the other hand had baluster stems and octagonal bases. As a result of the Oriental influence, candlesticks started to be decorated with seated figures, animals and flowers. There were also by now glass candlesticks from Waterford which were highly sought after.

By the 18th century, candlesticks had changed again to become tiered and the number of lights was increased for festive occasions. Eventually Chippendale and Sheraton starting making pieces of furniture with candle holders built in to them.

Antique Lighting Fixtures

Lighting fixtures in Europe and the Americas progressed over time from simple torches to candlesticks to lanterns until they finally evolved into elegant sconces and candelabras.

In England, where lighting has always been important given the climate, by the 17th century taper holders, torch holders, hanging fixtures, lanterns and candlesticks were all very fashionable. The 18th century saw the revival of designs associated with the William and Mary, Georgian, Queen Anne, Hepplewhite, Chippendale, and Sheriden styles.

In France small simple candils or coronas were developed. Lights were often put on wheels (horizontal not vertical), and wood, copper, bronze, ivory, silver, or rock crystal light crowns were created.

By the 15th and 16th centuries, lights were an integral part of many rooms. Stylized wall sconces with convex oval mirrors were created, as were elaborate crystal and brass pieces.

The neoclassical style of antique lighting of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette appeared in the 18th century with gold and silver candelabras decorated with animals and figures. Dresden porcelain ribbons and flowers were often appliqued on lanterns and sconces.

By the 17th century brass or silver candlesticks, lanterns and sconces were widely seen in the best homes. Silver candlesticks were used in the living room and dining room, brass was used in the rest of the house. Tin or pewter was used in the kitchen and by servants.

Lighting and light fixtures have been very important throughout the history of making as we learned to light up the dark of the night and thus extend the working day. Today this is still true, with the recent decision to phase out the old light bulbs we have used for almost a century in favour of more eco-friendly and energy-efficient lights. It is now even possible to buy energy-efficient Gothic candlesticks !

See also Antique Lighting Styles

French Lighting Fixtures

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Antique Lighting Styles

Antique Lighting - Antique Lighting Styles

When looking for antique lighting fixtures, you should try to find pieces that are complete and ready to be installed. It could be really difficult to find the missing element of some antique lighting fixtures that aren’t complete, for instance with missing glass shades.
Antique Lighting - Italian Rococo Style Sconce $500 opening bid
Some sites specialize in particular types of antique lighting fixture, such as gothic candlesticks, chandeliers, sconces, tables lamps, and gas light fixtures made in the USA during a certain period, for example from the mid nineteenth century to the beginning of the 20th century. Other antique dealer sites specialize in British, French, Dutch lights from earlier periods.

(Antique Lighting - Italian Rococo Style Sconce 20th Century - $500 opening bid)

The style of antique lighting can be broad, from Rococo, Gothic, Victorian, Edwardian, Renaissance Revival, Exotica, Neoclassical, and Eastlake, Moorish to the Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Aesthetic Movement. You can also even find some sites that occasionally offer replicas when more than one piece in necessary. Such sites, thanks to their many contacts can often even find the rare fixture than you are looking for.

Some sites have a very large inventory of antique lighting fixtures, including wall brackets, floor lamps, billiard lamps, piano lamps, organ lamps, desk lamps, table lamps, post lamps, rolltop desktop lamps and gimbel lights from ships. Some sellers offer massive chandeliers for ballrooms, or medium size chandeliers more adapted to the dining room or the living room. You even can find small chandeliers for bedrooms or bathrooms.
Antique lighting - Gilt BRonze Chandelier
(Antique Lighting Gilt Bronze Chandelier)

There are also antique exterior lighting fixtures to light the outside of your home. These lights include antique wrought-iron hanging lights and sconces, as well as bronze and copper hanging lights and sconces to put in your porch. You can also look for antique lanterns and post lights for your porch and loggia.

Apart from the sites selling antique lighting fixtures on the Internet, you can of course visit show rooms. Some of which are advertised on the net. If you want original antique lights, take your time, inquire and only buy one that has a warranty of authenticity from experts in the field that have built a reputation for integrity over a long time.

Finally, beware of sites that claim to sell antiques, but offer only new reproductions with some small antique elements in them.

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Choosing Antique Lighting Fixtures

Antique Lighting - Best Lighting Fixtures and Antique Chandeliers to Choose

Whether you want to create a genuine antique setting or want replicas or reproduction to create a style, you will find a lot of sites on the internet on which to browse and buy antique lighting fixtures.

Some companies can offer advice and help in your search, such as the Antique Lighting Co. which will give you some guidelines on how to find better lighting. To themAntique Lighting Chandelier SGD Caldwell Huge Bronze 12 Arm Ambient fill-in lighting is one of the most important elements to consider. They also explain that to obtain this effect you should use a soft white light washing the ceiling into the corners of the room and bouncing off the walls. Antique lighting sconces are great to create this effect

(Antique Lighting - Pair of SGD Caldwell Huge Bronze 12 Arm Antique Chandeliers sold recently at auction by C&C Auctions for $20,000)
When lighting the dining room for instance what do you want? A drop or a chandelier? If you chose a chandelier, the electric bulbs should be of low voltage. And to provide fill light, you should add sconces. You’ll have to take into account the height of the ceiling and the width of the table to chose the height and the diameter of the light fixture. On the other hand the drop bowl, will give your room a marvellous source of light which is not direct and washes the whole room.

To light the kitchen antique lighting pendants are perfect over islands, open counters or sinks as they are a good source of light for performing kitchen tasks under. These can be supplemented by light over cabinets that don’t light the ceiling.
Antique Lighting Chandelier Gilt Bronze 6 Arm with Eagle Head
In the bedroom at least one kind of sconce has to be used to give a fill light effect, otherwise the lighting fixtures should reflect the taste and needs of the people who use the room. Lighting fixtures near the bed will be needed.

(Antique Lighting - Gilt Bronze 6 Arm with Eagle Head Antique Chandelier sold recently for $1057 by C&C Auctions)

The exterior lighting is quite important as it makes your house safe and inviting. There are antique lighting lanterns for the porch and entrance of the house, although you will have to find these on other sites as the Antique Lighting Co. doesn’t seem to have any, at least not on their site directory.

Finally, you need to check the materials - most antique chandeliers were made from brass, wrought iron, bronze, nickel, and crystal. If you see so-called antique lighting made from polished steel, then look elsewhere.


Antique Lighting French Lighting Fixtures

Antique Lighting - French lighting fixtures

The term French antique lighting fixtures covers a whole range of antique lighting that will add charm and style to any home. There are chandeliers, of course, but also sconces and table lamps.
Antique Lighting Antique Wall Sconce
Chandeliers, are the most impressive of these lighting fixtures, but they are also often the most expensive. They are mounted on the ceiling, which should be in proportion to the size of the chandelier. They usually hang from a sturdy cage, but this depends of the period, so some French chandeliers may have chains. There are a lage number of crystals on the stem and beneath the light bulbs. The stem is decorated with leaves, flowers or grapes. The construction of the fixture can be very heavy, it is therefore best to leave the installation to the professionals

The design influences of antique lighting fixtures such as sconces can be traced back centuries. In murano sconces craftsmen made use of numerous decorative elements taken from nature. Some antique sconces have a mirror installed behind the lighting fixture. This fixture may be richly decorated, creating a magnificent effect. There are also crystal sconces. Wooden sconces, like chandeliers, may be gilded, they can also be of cast bronze often from the 19th century, but in Louis XV style and often refitted for electricity.

French antique table lamps have two principal parts. The base is an important part and is usually made of wood, but some lamps have metal bases too. Making the base of the lamp was a very time-consuming process. It was turned into a beautiful shape and decorated with floral patterns. The other part of a French antique table lamp is the lampshade that is put around the light source to soften it. Lampshades were, and still are, usually made of cloth and are often embroidered for decorative effect. Before the 20th century the light source for these French table lamps was candles. Now, these antique lighting fixtures are often refitted for use with light bulbs.

There is no need to travel to France to find such antique lighting fixtures. You can now find them on the Internet and on auction sites that specialize in French antique lighting fixtures.

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Valuable Antique Lighting Fixtures

Antique Lighting - The Development of Lighting Fixtures over Time

Antique Lighting Chandelier Medieval

Antique Lighting Fixtures

Antique lighting fixtures were not always, of course, antiques. When they were first created they were in fact considered to be the height of modernity. For example, the first chandeliers used in the Middle Ages were wooden crosses that were suspended from a hook in the ceiling. On the end of the cross there were spikes to stick the candles on. The examples of such lights, which were very basic, that have survived down to this day are now very rare antique lighting fixtures.
(Antique Lighting - Medieval Chandelier)
From the 15th century, chandeliers with a ring or crown as a basic design started to become popular. This form of antique lighting was used in castles and churches, in the homes of the nobles, and even in the homes of rich merchants. A well-lit house with fine lighting fixtures was a sign of status.

At the beginning of the 18th century, antique chandeliers in gilded wood could be found in the homes of most rich merchants. Later, wrought iron, brass or bronze was used; it was then gilded to make it more stylish. Motifs in cast iron and also in carved gilded wood became increasingly popular. So antique lighting fixtures are often gilded but there are also silver-plated ones that give the light a more masculine and sober aspect and sit better in modern settings.

With crystal chandeliers, people are looking for transparency in lighting. Glassmakers attempted to imitate the transparency and limpidity of crystal. This kind of lighting fixture was first made at the beginning of the 17th Century in Italy. But later that century, in France, glass makers used to hang prisms onto them to project prismatic colours when lit. These chandeliers would become famous worldwide and came to be looked upon as templates for replicas of original pieces.
Antique Lighting Fixtures Chandelier
(Antique Lighting - Chandelier)
One famous crystal chandelier that Queen Victoria gave as a gift, is the largest Bohemia crystal chandelier in the world. It is in the Dolmabahçe Place in Turkey. It weighs more than 4 tons and has 750 lamps. Another famous crystal chandelier is the one in the Opera Garnier that crashed on the Phantom in the Phantom of the Opera the novel written by Gaston Leroux.

Of course a lot of these original antique lighting fixtures that still exist have been electrified for convenience. And today they are used more as decorations than for the lighting itself - and are highly sought after by collectors of antique lighting fixtures.


Antique Lighting and Antique Lights

Antique Lighting

The oldest forms of antique lights are the oil lamps of Antiquity, and the fish oil fuelled lamps of the Romans.
Antique Oil Lamp
In the Middle Ages, antique lighting took the form of heavy chandeliers, which were used mainly in churches, then later on in wealthy houses.
(Antique Lighting - Oil Lamp )
In the beginning of the 15th Century, burning candles in chandeliers was so widespread that we now find a lot of antique lighting designs dating back to that period. These designs become more refined in the 17th Century when the use of silver and pewter became quite commonplace.

During the 19th Century, paraffin started to be used in lighting. Paraffin is lighter than oil, so a wick could be used, which produced better light. Each new discovery served to improve lighting, but it is only with the improvement of the mantle that the use of gas as a means of providing lighting took off.

In Victorian times, gas fitting was the most modern lighting form for the time, and the rise and fall gasolier was one of the most modern devices. It could be installed near the ceiling when it was not used and then lowered when required

In the last years of Victoria’s reign only very well-to-do houses had electric lighting, for the majority of people, the advent of electric lighting started at the beginning of the 20th century. The increased brightness of the electric bulb and its ability to light the room from any angle, gave it a great advantage compared to gas lighting.
Antique Chandelier
The polyvalence of electric lighting allowed a great many designs of fittings. This had not been possible before. Lighting fixtures were now available to everyone.
(Antique Lighting - Chandelier)
Over the last ten years, antique lighting fixtures and antique lights have quadrupled in value but there are a lot of antique lighting fixture reproductions on the market that have little value. Using these lighting fixtures depends on their intended utilization. If the aim is to complete an antique setting or to match the quantities required, for instance in a hotel, reproductions could be the most appropriate solution. Nowadays, new lighting fixtures can be distressed to make them look like an original antique lighting fixture.

However in an original period setting, reproduction lighting fixtures will look out of place, so it is much better to choose an original type of antique lighting if at all possible.