Your Guide to Buying an Antique Brass Table Lamp

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Your Guide to Buying an Antique Brass Table Lamp

Buying an antique brass table lamp may not be that easy. The main problem is that there isn’t that much consumer information about antique lamps. Just trying to find a retailer that sells authentic lamps made more than 100 years ago is a challenge. Being able to recognize one is even tougher. This buying guide provides valuable information about antique brass table lamps, including the different types and styles that are available. It also offers tips for finding and buying these types of antiques.

History of Antique Brass Table Lamps

It is believed that the creation of the first ever lamp took place 70,000 years ago. It was made from a hollow shell or rock and utilized animal fat as a fuel source to light natural fibres. The burner was invented during the eighteenth century and was used to control the flame in oil lamps. These were portable and were easily carried around. As designers of the time started incorporating their ideas into lamps, table lamps started appearing in homes. These featured a well-designed base font and decorative shade. The burner was eventually replaced with the socket and oil flames were replaced with the light bulb after electricity was discovered. 

Discover Antique Brass Table Lamps

Brass table lamps produced over 100 years ago are considered antiques. They are made of brass, use either oil or electricity to generate light, and feature decorative shades and a compact base font. Many collectors look for table lamps from a particular era or style, such as Victorian,, Art Deco, or Regency. Everyday shoppers may look for nice decorative pieces that are in working condition. Both types of buyer can find the type of antique brass table lamp that they are looking for on eBay.  

Parts of an Antique Brass Table Lamp

Antique brass table lamps that use oil as a fuel source have four main parts: the base font, burner, and chimney. Electric brass table lamps have a socket and wiring instead of a burner and chimney.

Part

Description

Base Font

The main component of the lamp. Made of brass and carved into a lamp shape. The bottom is flat, usually square, and sits on the table. The top is round and meets the socket or chimney. 

Burner

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

Chimney

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

Socket

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

Wiring

Electrical wires that connect the socket to an electrical outlet.

Shade

Covering that diffuses the light from the bulb or flame. For oil lamps, the shade is usually made of glass.

Types of Antique Brass Table Lamps

There are two main types of antique brass table lamps: oil and electric.

Type

Description

Advantages

Considerations

Oil

Oil brass table lamps generate light by burning fuel.

Oil table lamps can be placed anywhere in a room

 Irritating smoke and odour from the burning oil.

Electric

Electric brass table 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.

Popular Styles of Antique Brass Table Lamps

There are several styles of antique brass table lamp. Here are some of the more popular:

  • Victorian                                   
  • Art Deco
  • Regency
  • Neoclassical
  • Asian
  • Italian
  • Louis XIII
  • Sheraton
  • Gothic
  • Venetian

Factors to Consider When Buying Antique Brass Table Lamps

There are several things to consider when buying an antique brass table lamp. Whether the table lamp is an antique or reproduction is one factor to consider.  Its condition and appearance should also affect one’s buying decision. 

  • Authenticity - Antiques are considered to be at least 100 years old. Reproductions may look like antiques but are produced much more recently. The age of a brass table lamp can often be determined by the manufacturer. Companies such as Tiffany Studios and the Fulper Pottery Company existed more than 100 years ago and produced the brass table lamp.
  • Materials - The material that the lamp is made from can also be a concern when trying to determine if the lamp is real.  Brass is a shade of yellow or bronze and is prone to tarnish, instead of rust. If other metals are present in the lamp, a magnet will detect their presence.
  • Check out the seller - Buy from retailers that are known for selling authentic antiques. They generally have a high seller rating on auction sites like eBay.
  • Condition - The condition of the lamp is another factor to consider. Look for signs of wear, including greenish discoloration. This can be treated easily with brass polish, but cite it as a reason to lower the selling price. Check if the lamp is in working condition as well.
  • Appearance - Some antique brass table lamps look better than others. They are usually distinguished by the design of the base font and the shade colors, patterns, and decorations.

Typical Features of Antique Brass Table Lamps

Antique brass table lamps are known for three things:

1. Yellow/Bronze Coloured Surface
One feature typical of antique brass table lamps is the yellow/bronze exterior. Older antiques with significant wear will feature a greenish patina, which gives the lamp a bit of character, according to collectors.

2. Compact Form
Most antique brass table lamps are small. They can be placed on tables with other day-to-day items, without being in the way.

3. Decorative Shade

The covering for the lamp is decorated with various colours, patterns, and ornaments. It stands out amongst the clutter of most tables. Some shades are made of stained glass, which features rich colors and sharp contrasts. Some shades aren’t uniform, but rather, have dangling chains and other ornaments.

How to Care for Antique Brass Table Lamps

As with most antiques, brass table lamps need to be carefully maintained. The main concern with brass lamps is the formation of green scales, which leave the lamp looking rusted and dirty. The discoloration is due to oxidation, which is a natural process. The slight discoloration (brass is normally a shade of yellow or bronze) may be considered as a part of the antique and is usually referred to as patina. If the antique is brass-plated avoid harsh cleaning chemicals and polish. To reveal the natural brass of solid brass lamps, a brass polish is required.

To determine if the lamp is solid brass or brass-plated use a magnet. If the magnet sticks to the lamp it means that there are other metals making up the lamp besides brass. If this is the case use only a soft cloth and warm water to clean the surface. If the magnet doesn’t stick, it is solid brass. 

Before cleaning a solid brass lamp, remove the parts of the lamp (shade, bulb, socket, wiring). Use warm soapy water to clean the surface. A brush is helpful for removing dirt. Dry the lamp. Then, wet a cloth with brass cleaner and rub a small area of the lamp until it is bright and shiny. Polish the rest of the lamp.

An alternative to brass polish is a natural solution made from lemon juice and table salt. Simply mix the two together to form a paste and apply to the surface of the lamp. Vinegar can be used in place of lemon juice.

Popular Antique Brass Table Lamp Manufacturers

Here is a list of some of the more popular manufactures of the brass table lamp.

  • Pierre-Adriene Dalpayrat
  • Tiffany Studios
  • Sigfrid Wagner
  • Josef Hoffmann
  • Fulper Pottery Company
  • Clément Massier
  • Louis Comfort Tiffany
  • Pairpoint
  • W.A.S. Benson Ltd.
  • James Powell & Sons

Accessories and Add-ons for Antique Brass Table Lamps

There are several accessories that it may be useful to own.

  • Lamp Shade
  • Lamp Finial
  • Decorative Lamp Pull Cord
  • Bulbs

Finding Antique Brass Table Lamps on eBay

After determining the type of antique brass table lamp that you want to purchase, visit the Antiques Category portal on eBay, click on ‘Antique Furniture’ then click ‘Lamps’ and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search. Click the box for Original. Further refine the results by age, style, and price.

Searching for Antique Brass Table Lamps on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique brass table lamps. For example, to find antique Brass table lamps with Victorian features, type ‘antique Victorian table lamps’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tips page for more advice on searching for antique brass table lamps with keywords. Can’t find a specific antique brass table lamp? Try shopping eBay Stores..

Conclusion

There are two basic types of antique brass table lamps, but both were made in several styles. After finding the right one, review the details of the lamp. The product listing page on eBay contains valuable information including the price, shipping details, and product description. Know exactly what the seller is offering before making a purchase. Also, review the return policy for the antique brass table lamp. Once you have collected this information, you can purchase an antique brass table lamp securely on eBay.

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