Your Guide to Buying Antique Bedside Lamps

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Your Guide to Buying Antique Bedside Lamps

An antique bedside lamp could lend atmosphere and decoration to a bedroom. There are many eras of design that one can choose from. This guide provides information about the components of bedside lamps and the types of bedside lamps that are available. This guide will also list the benefits of each type of lamp, as well as some of the ways to maintain a lamp years after the purchase. This buying guide also offers tips for searching the listings on eBay using its search engine.

A History of Bedside Lamps

The earliest lamps were made from natural materials such as shells and hollow rocks. The ancient Egyptians developed terra cotta lamps, which were adapted by the Greeks, around the sixth century BC.  These lamps saw gradual improvements, including the addition of the wick. It was not until the eighteenth century that significant changes in the design of the lamp occurred. Newer lamps produced less smoke after designers incorporated a flat wick and then later, the circular wick. The introduction of the glass chimneys and burners further improved the efficiency of the lamp. Oils and gases were eventually replaced by electricity as a source of fuel.

Bedside lamps were used to light the room in the night. They are usually placed near the sleeping area on a table. Just as the parts of the lamp changed over time, so did the style of the lamp. Bedside lamps incorporated certain elements from the general furniture style of the time and region. Victorian bedside lamps have stylistic elements from the Victorian era in Britain, while bedside lamps from France during the reign of Louis X1V have different features. Today, these elements are still popular and are commonly incorporated into reproductions.

Discover Antique Bedside Lamps

Bedside lamps that are more than 100 years old are considered antiques. Reproductions have similar features to specific furniture styles, but are newer and sold by most furniture retailers. Hence, reproductions are easier to find. Antiques, however, may be a bit more difficult to track down, which is why eBay could be a great resource for buyers as the auction site allows sellers from all over the country to put their items on the market. Many people are interested in buying antique bedside lamps for their vintage designs. With modern wiring, they could add charm and functionality to a bedroom.

Components of Antique Bedside Lamps

Antique bedside lamps that run on electricity feature a socket and electrical cord, while oil antique bedside lamps feature a burner and glass chimney. Both share other parts as well.




Base font

The main component of the lamp. It has a circular opening at the top that connects to the burner or socket and a round or square base that sits on the table. It is usually curved and painted.


Sits on top of the base font and controls the flame for oil lamps.


Narrow tube, usually made of glass that carries the smoke and heat from the flame.


Cylindrical opening with electrical contacts designed to hold a light bulb. The bulb is screwed into the socket to generate light.

Wiring/ cord

Electrical wires that connect the socket to an electrical outlet.


Covering that diffuses the light from the bulb or flame. For oil lamps, the shade is usually made of glass. Tiffany lamps also feature glass shades with intricate designs and bright colours.


Common in electrical lamps. It is a metal piece that loops around the bulb and into the base. It holds the shade in place.


Top bit of the lamp that secures the shade. It usually looks like a cap, but can be decorated. Some feature sculptures or symbols.

Types of Antique Bedside Lamps

There are two types of antique bedside lamps. One uses oil and the other uses electricity.






Oil antique bedside lamps generate light by burning fuel.

  • Adds atmosphere.
  • Smoke and odour from burning oil.


Electric antique bedside lamps feature wiring and a bulb.

  • Electric lamps are low maintenance.
  • Bulbs are easily replaced.
  • Electric lamps must be near an electrical outlet to work.

Factors to Consider When Buying Antique Bedside Lamps

There are several things to consider when buying antique bedside lamps. The style of the room, the reasons for buying a new lamp, and the condition of the lamp are three things that affect one’s buying decision.

  • ŸRoom style – The style of the room affects which furniture pieces can be added to it. Bedside lamps can be a bit different from the overall style of the room without standing out, because they are small and usually situated next to the bed or in a corner.
  • Functional or display – Another factor to consider when buying an antique bedside lamp is whether the lamp will be used or simply be a display item. Some lamps require fuels such as kerosene to generate a flame and light. This may not be suitable for rooms with poor ventilation. Electric lamps are ideal for lighting small areas and are easy to turn on and off, which is important when fumbling for a light during the night.
  • Condition – The condition of an antique bedside lamp is important. Many antiques are old and will have worn down over time. Some issues that may affect the sale include scratches, damaged parts and the working condition of the lamp. Check the pictures provided on the eBay auction page and review the description for details about the lamp. If the buyer feels as though they require more information than what has been provided they should ask the seller for a more in depth description.

Typical Features of Antique Bedside Lamps

Antique bedside lamps are known for their characteristic shades, small sizes and different styles.

1. Decorative shade

Most antique bedside lamps feature a decorative shade that is designed with intricate patterns. Some have bright colours, such as Tiffany lamps. Other shades are bland, but are shaped in a very stylised fashion.

2. Different styles

Antique bedside lamps bear different designs, from the Victorian, to Art Deco, to Edwardian, just to name a few. An Antique bedside lamp may have ornate and intricate designs or, it may have clean, simple lines. These differences will depend on the age of the antique bedside lamp.

3. Size

These lamps are compact and much smaller than other lamps used in the home.

How to Care for Antique Bedside Lamps

After purchasing an antique bedside lamp, be sure to maintain its appearance on a regular basis. Dust and dirt are common problems that can be treated with a soft cloth and warm soapy water. Over time, the colours may fade, shades may chip, and the lamp could even stop working. Most antique lamps can be restored and re-wired. Some of the options include, repainting the surface or glass shade to match the original colour, polishing the surface, and replacing old wires with new electrical cords. However, in restoring a piece of antique, advice from an expert is recommended.

Accessories and Add-Ons for Antique Bedside Lamps

Here are some ideas that could help to enhance the design of a room to fit with the antique bedside lamp.

  • A bedside table of the same style or era to complete a particular look for the bedroom. These could be found easily.
  • A clock also bearing similar design or style that could achieve a certain look for the bedroom.
  • Covers for the bed that offset the style of the lamp.
  • Curtains for the room that complement the lamp.

Finding an Antique Bedside Lamp on eBay

After determining the type of antique bedside lamp that 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, material and price by checking the corresponding box.

Searching for anAntique Bedside Lamp on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique bedside lamps. For example, to find an antique Victorian bedside lamp, type ‘antique Victorian bedside 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 bedside lamp with keywords. If you can’t find the exact antique bedside lamp you want, try shopping eBay Stores..


Bedside lamps are small, light fixtures that are placed in a bedroom near the bed. These antiques are popular and can be extremely sought after. Once you have decided on the style that you want, gather as much information as possible about the piece. The product listings page on eBay contains valuable information including the price, shipping details and description of the item. Know exactly what the seller is offering before making a purchase. Once you have collected all the information you need, you can buy an antique bedside lamp safely and securely on eBay..

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