© Tsekyi Thür

The Characteristics of Typical Austrian Lamps

When talking about Austrian lamps, one should bear in mind that in the second half of the 19th century, large parts of Central Europe belonged to the Austrian Empire. The Habsburg Empire consisted not only of the heartland Austria but also of Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, today's South Tyrol in North Italy, Bohemia (today part of Czech Republic) and parts of today's Poland. It is therefore not surprising that the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy of the time had a very large consumer market. In addition, this empire had three large metropolises, Vienna, Budapest and Prague, where wealthy, status-conscious customers who placed great value on pomp and the display of their wealth had formed a clientele. Consequently, there were lamp manufacturers in this empire whose products could meet the highest quality standards.

The renowned lamp manufacturers of the Dual Monarchy are listed in the next table.

Company Location Duration
R. Ditmar Vienna 1840 - 1907
Gebr. Brünner Vienna 1857 - 1907
Ditmar Brünner AG Vienna Founded by the merger of the two companies above; 1907 until ca. 1940’s
Lámpa-Gyár (Magyarlamp) Budapest ?
Ignác Fischer Budapest Porcelain and ceramic manufactory since 1864; ca. 1895 taken over by Zsolnay
Zsolnay Pécs (Hungary) 1852 – today
Royal Dux Bohemia Dux (Bohemia),
today Duchcov in Czech Republic
1860 – today
Since ca. 1890 manufacture of high-quality porcelain

 

K. Rudolf Ditmar undoubtedly owned the largest and most famous lamp manufactory in the Austrian Empire, followed by Gebr. Brünner, both based in Vienna. These two companies merged in 1907 to form a joint stock company. The latter three companies in above table were primarily ceramic and porcelain manufactories for upmarket customers. However, they also produced first-class lamp bodies from these materials and combined them with the burners of the first two, probably the most famous lamp manufacturers.

Lámpa-Gyár in Budapest had an independent, large lamp production, but also integrated lamps and lamp parts from other producers in its programme.

If one now wants to list characteristic features of lamps of the Habsburg Dual Monarchy, one must already note that these lamps do not differ noticeably from similar products of German manufacturers. There were simple work lamps as well as table and salon lamps for discerning buyers. Lamps made of cast zinc with exuberant ornamentation were just as numerous as the usual painted glass lamps and higher-quality lamps made of porcelain and ceramics. The majolica lamp often mentioned above with the German lamps was just as common here. The styles of German and Austrian lamps were so similar that it is really difficult to decide from which empire a lamp that was not signed or not shown in the existing catalogues came. So it is not surprising that a large number of lamps in my collection unfortunately remain unidentifiable. See also German Lamps.

The Austrian Empire had excellent glass manufacturers in Bohemia who supplied the necessary lampshades or lamp bodies for the glass lamps. Here, too, the white Vesta shade dominated in the beginning (still often in the old, conical shape); later, beautifully painted Vesta shades in Art Nouveau shapes were added. High-quality lamps, however, tended to be fitted with ball shades or tulip shades.

The lamps by R. Ditmar show a special feature; they often bear the mark of this company partly under the base in the case of zinc cast lamps, partly on the inner, metal additional container in the case of majolica or zinc cast lamps.

 

My Lamps from the Austrian Dual Monarchy

R. Ditmar in Vienna, similar to Wild & Wessel in Berlin, was an innovative company that placed great value on the highest quality and whose products were very widespread in the Habsburg Empire of the time as well as in Southern and Eastern Europe. Ditmar's high-quality salon lamps were on a par with those of Wild & Wessel. For this reason, I present my 24 Ditmar lamps in a separate chapter. In another sub-chapter, the remaining 12 lamps from the collection are presented, mainly from Hungary and Bohemia.