Antique Floor Lamp Buying Guide

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Antique Floor Lamp Buying Guide

Lighting a room can make all the difference in the ambiance of a room and finding a particular antique floor lamp can be difficult. There are many periods and styles from which to choose a lamp that suits your taste and lighting needs. On eBay, there are dozens of floor lamps with styles ranging from Art Deco to Victorian.. This buying guide offers information on the history of the antique floor lamp and descriptions of the different types of floor lamps. It will also list the factors to consider in buying an antique floor lamp. There will also be tips for navigating eBay.

History of Antique Floor Lamps

The first lamp was made from hollow rocks or shells and used animal fat as the fuel source. By the seventh century BC, terracotta lamps replaced handheld torches. It wouldn’t be until the eighteenth century that oil lamps became common as a way to add light to interior spaces. Olive oil, fish oil, and sesame oil were common ignition sources at this time. After the discovery of petroleum in the mid-1800s, kerosene lamps became the norm. By the end of the century, gas lamps were invented. Most street lights and home lighting used gas until electric lights and the light bulb replaced them at the turn of the nineteenth century.  

The floor lamp evolved from the candelabra and was first used in France towards the end of the seventeenth century. It was called a torchiere and featured just one candle at the top. The base and stand were usually made of wood, but eventually metal became the main material for making floor lamps. As floor lamps became more popular, the bases and shades became more decorative and stylish. The floor lamp made the transition from purely functional to also being a fashionable element in a space.

Discover Antique Floor Lamps

Floor lamps that were produced more than 100 years ago are considered antiques and are usually categorized in the collectables section of most retailers. Floor lamps featuring characteristics from a particular era or style but are produced recently are considered reproductions. Floor lamps are defined as tall lamps with bases that stand on the floor. Antique floor lamps add value to any antique collection. They can be blended with more contemporary furniture styles for an eclectic look or finish off a room by coordinating it with furniture from the same period. Not only do antique floor lamps provide a beautiful way to add light to a room but they are also a link to old-world craftsmanship and history.

Parts of Antique Floor Lamps

Floor lamps consist of three main parts: a base, a tube or pole, and a light source. Some floor lamps may have additional parts.

Part

Description

Base

Supports the lamp. It is usually circular and wide.

Tube/ Pipe

Lengthens the height of the floor lamp.

Break

Decorative piece that separates the tube into two sections.

Husk

Decorative piece that joins the tube with the bridge arm.

Bridge arm

Angled piece that extends to one side of the tube. Connects the tube to the lamp socket.

Uno fitter

Connects the bridge arm to the lamp or shade.

Reflector

Surrounds the light bulb and directs the light upward. Similar to a shade, but upside-down.

Shade

Covers the lamp or light bulb and diffuses light.

Lamp/ light bulb

Emits light, hollow and made of metal or glass.

Styles of Antique Floor Lamps

There are three main types of antique floor lamps: Torchiere, Bridge, and Reflector. All three have a base, long tube, a lamp/light source, and shade.

Type

Description

Advantages

Considerations

Torchiere

Torchiere floor lamps feature a shade that directs the light above the lamp.

Lights up an entire room.

The shade could collect dust and dead insects.

Bridge

Bridge or bridge arm floor lamps feature adjustable arms that direct the light to specific areas.

Great for shining light at a particular area.

Different areas can be lit by turning the arm.

The bridge arm may get worn out over time and lose its ability to hold the light at angles.

Reflector

Reflector floor lamps feature a reflector shade that directs the light upwards. The lamp also features three candle arm lights around the centre mogul bulb.

Two light sources

Vintage appearance

Requires a second shade to cover the reflector shade. It sits over the reflector.

Popular Floor Lamp Styles

Floor lamps are produced in several styles including:

  • Art Deco
  • Victorian
  • Art Moderne
  • Regency
  • Italian
  • Asian
  • Dutch
  • Louis XIII
  • Neoclassical
  • Queen Anne
  • Venetian

Factors to Consider When Buying an Antique Floor Lamp

There are several things to consider when buying an antique floor lamp including the main purpose of the lamp, its appearance, and the condition of the lamp.

  • Uses – When buying an antique floor lamp, consider how it will be used in the room. For example, will the lamp be used to light the whole room, or will it be used to light a specific area. Torchiere and Reflector floor lamps direct the light upward, which is great for lighting up an entire room. Bridge arm floor lamps can be used to direct light at different areas, which makes it easier to see details. 
  • Style – Another factor to consider is the appearance of the floor lamp. There are many styles, colours, and sizes to choose from.
  • Condition – The quality of the lamp parts is important. Avoid floor lamps with exposed wires and bent poles. Also look at the shade for signs of wear.

Typical Features of Antique Floor Lamp

Antique floor lamps typically have these three features:

  1. Long pole - Floor lamps are tall lamps that feature a long stem. It is thin and generally lightweight.
  2. Directional shade - The shade of a floor lamp directs the light from the bulb. Some shades direct the light up, down or at different angles.
  3. Metal - Most antique floor lamps are made of metal. Brass, iron and chrome are common metals used to make floor lamps.

How to Care for Antique Floor Lamps

Antique floor lamps, just like other types of antiques, require a certain amount of care to maintain its appearance. Since most floor lamps are made of metal, rust is a big concern. Old iron floor lamps are especially prone to rust. To clean and protect the surface, start by unplugging the lamp and removing rust and dirt from the surface with a brush. Then coat the surface with a lubricating oil and wipe clean with a fine-grit emery cloth. Dissemble the parts of the lamp and remove the wires. Wipe each part with a cloth dipped in mineral spirits to remove any oil and dirt that remain. Avoid exposing the interior of the socket to oil. Wrap the pieces in newspaper and dry the pieces for three days. Afterward, polish the pieces with a cloth dipped with lubricating oil or paste wax. This will protect the iron and prevent the formation of rust. Re-assemble the lamp. If the wires are frayed, use a new cable and attach it to the socket. 

For brass lamps, use a paste made from brass polish and two to three drops of ammonia. Apply the paste to the brass lamp with a cloth and polish the surface. Afterward, wash the surface with a cloth dipped in warm water and dry with a clean cloth. Apply another coat of polish and let it dry. Then spray the lamp with a lacquer. Take care to work in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gloves and mask.

Accessories and Add-ons for Antique Floor Lamps

There are several accessories that would complete an antique floor lamp.

  • Lamp shade
  • Decorative pull cord or chain
  • Bulbs        
  • Lamp socket
  • Lamp finial

Finding an Antique Floor Lamp on eBay

Once you determine the type of antique floor lamp you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, click on ‘Antique Furniture’, then ‘Lamps’ and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search. Refine the results by age, style, price and material.

Searching for an Antique Floor Lamp on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique floor lamps. For example, to find an antique Victorian floor lamp, type ‘antique Victorian floor lamp’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tipsppage for more advice on searching for an antique floor lamp with keywords. If you can’t find the exact antique floor lamp you want, try shopping eBay Stores..

Conclusion

Antique floor lamps are great pieces to buy. They can enhance the ambience of nearly any rooms and at the same time, serve the purpose of lighting rooms up. Floor lamps are ideal for corners or at the ends of sofas. The selection of floor lamps available on eBay is varied. Choose from styles such as Art Nouveau, Renaissance, Gothic, Mid-Century, among others. Review the details of the floor lamp on the product page and consider the price, payment methods and shipping details.

Once you have collected this information, you can buy an antique floor lamp safely and securely on eBay..  

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