Treasures: reversed lamp is wonderful old piece

This lamp may have been made by Handel, but the quality of the painting suggests otherwise.

This lamp may have been made by Handel, but the quality of the painting suggests otherwise.

Dear Helaine and Joe:

I have been told that this lamp is a Tiffany, but I have also been told that it is a Hamel. The height is 25 inches and the shade’s circumference is 65 inches. It is very heavy due to the iron framing and thickness of the glass. The base is a nightlight. I have looked online for antique lamps and cannot find anything similar. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you,

C. H.

Dear C. H.:

In order to make a successful online search, you have to have the right words to make a search productive. In this case, “Tiffany” and “Hamel” just won’t work because the lamp is neither.

The first name mentioned is “Tiffany Studios,” which was located in Corona (Queens), New York. It was in operation from 1901 to 1932. But Louis Comfort Tiffany withdrew from the company in 1928. The second name, “Hamel,” should probably be “Handel,” which refers to a company that made high quality lamps in Meriden, Conn.

The Handel Lamp Company was in business from 1876 until 1926 and was most famous for their “reverse painted” lamp shades. There is a very slim possibility that this lamp was made by Handel, but we have our doubts (Tiffany is definitely not a possibility) and we would suggest that a search of the term reverse-painted lamp might be more helpful to C. H in her quest to find out more about her lighting device.

If she had gone to liveauctioneers.com, for example, and typed in reverse-painted lamp, she would have come up with page after page of these lamps, and by scrolling through the pages, she would have found several lamps that look very similar to hers.

We have people tell us, “but we didn’t find one EXACTLY like ours,” with the implication being that finding an exact twin is possible and to be expected. Finding a twin to something you own on the internet is not out of the question, but it is not something that should be expected to happen often (unless you have a lot of time and patience).

In this case, C. H. should be looking for table lamps with nightlights in the base (like hers) and with a similar height and shade diameter (the circumference measurement is not very helpful or used very often for comparison purposes). She should also be looking for examples with pebbled surfaces that are similar to Handel shades with chipped ice exteriors. (These were created by applying fish glue to the surface, and as it dried, the glue would actually pull up little pieces off the surface of the shade).

The shade in today’s question was designed to simulate this effect and the metal base and shade dividers were made to simulate bronze. The lamp was probably made circa 1925 in one of the many manufacturers in either Chicago or Pittsburgh who did not sign their products. We vote for Chicago.

This is a wonderful old piece with typical decorations of trees around a lake. It is of moderate quality and should be valued for insurance purposes in the $600 to $800 range if it is in perfect condition and not cracked.

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