© Tsekyi Thür

Other Shades

Here we can group all other shades that cannot easily be classified in the classic shade groups of Vesta, tulip and ball shades. The shades in this class are either glass shades, which are exceptions by their shape and size, or by the way they are mounted in kerosene/paraffin lamps, or shades made of materials other than glass.

 

Other Types of Glass Shades

A very rare type of glass shade was used by the Berlin lamp manufacturer Wild & Wessel. This unpainted, white milk glass shade is very flat in shape and serves only as a noble holder for a fabric hanging, which then gives the shade its extraordinary appearance. This drapery can be made of white cotton with beautiful eyelet embroidery or of noble tulle lace (white or coloured). I have a version of this shade with very probably subsequently attached glass fringes, which also look very nice (L.222). I have added a fabric border to another flat W&W shade myself (L.123).

I designed and executed myself a similar, but larger shade construction for a floor lamp (L.023). I added a white cotton border with perforated embroidery to a very large (Ø 440 mm) and quite flat shade made of milk glass and installed this mighty shade on the lamp with a shade holder that I also made myself. This shade harmonises far better with the large floor lamp than all the other shades I have tried, including large American ball shades of 10 inch diameter.

From German production of the Art Nouveau period, there are charming glass shades in a strictly conical shape, mostly painted with Art Nouveau or Art Deco motifs, held in a specially constructed metal frame made of brass. These glass shades were later replaced by silk shades, which were cheaper and unbreakable. These shades with the brass frame are rare to find today. I have managed to find a beautiful Kleemann lamp with the original glass shade (L.209).

A similar glass/metal construction was used for the very large hanging lamps, whose rather flat shades consisted of several flat glass panes held in an iron construction. The glass panes used were mostly made of flat, sometimes also structured ("hammered decor"), lightly to intensely coloured glass. These large hanging lamps are also very rare to find today; presumably they were replaced quite early with electric lamps due to their unwieldy size and susceptibility to rust. In my collection there is an example by Schubert & Sorge still with original glass segments (L.273).

A completely different type of glass shade is used for the hall lamps (also called vestibule lamps). The shade for these lamps is very similar to a lantern; it is usually round or polygonal, either widening conically towards the top or cylindrical in shape, and framed at the top and bottom with metal mounts. Inside the glass shade, completely invisible from the outside, is the small kerosene/paraffin lamp (and sometimes even a very simple candle). The purpose of the hall lamps was not to illuminate a room well, but to create an atmospheric ambience with subdued light in the entrance halls, corridors or staircases of distinguished houses. In my collection there is a hall lamp (L.308) whose origin is unknown to me.

A somewhat strange variation of the glass shades are the combinations of a conventional Vesta shade with a larger fabric cover spread over it, which had a correspondingly large opening at the top for the glass chimney. These fabric covers were probably designed and tailored by lamp owners themselves for their lamps, presumably to dim the bright light of burner’s flame a bit more or to create a particularly romantic atmosphere. Depending on the owner's taste, such blankets were made of colourfully printed fabric or crocheted lace. Some had decorations of glass beads or tassels at their drooping corners. These blankets have also very often been lost in the course of time.

 

Other types of glass shades
Top row, from left: Self-made, large glass shade with fabric border (Ø 46 cm)
Large shade made of flat glass segments in iron frame by Schubert & Sorge (Ø 59 cm)
Conical glass shade by C.A. Kleemann with brass frame
Bottom row, from left: Hand-painted hexagonal shade for hall lamps
Original flat shade of Wild & Wessel, here decorated with glass fringes (Ø 31 cm)
Glass shade by Schott with hand-crocheted overhang

 

Shades Made of Other Materials

For the reasons mentioned at the beginning, shades made of glass dominate kerosene/paraffin lamps by far. Nevertheless, there are also shades made of other materials, mostly cardboard, metal or fabric, which have found their way into the lamp world for various reasons. The overloaded silk shades were due to the representational needs of the upper middle classes. Cardboard shades were suitable for German piano lamps because of their very light weight. Brass shades were a fad of the Art Nouveau period in the search for unconventional forms of expression.

German piano lamps in particular had a cardboard shade, as it was very light and did not unnecessarily weigh down the arm of the lamp that protruded from the side. Parchment was then a somewhat more expensive (and also rarer) variant. The vast majority of these shades have not survived the test of time and can hardly be found as originals of the time. I have two cardboard shades in my collection that I built myself from scanned old originals (lamps L.111 and L.245).

Another material was metal sheet, either brass or iron, painted white inside to reflect the light strongly downwards. Such metal shades were more commonly used in the "Lyre" hanging lamps in larger buildings (restaurants, factory halls, schools, etc.). However, especially at the very beginning of their emergence, metal shades also existed in student lamps. The metal shade experienced a renaissance with the so-called "Parisienne" lamps, which without exception had a dome-shaped brass shade with ornamental punching, sometimes even decorated with coloured glass cabochons (see e.g. L.107). These shades almost always had a hanging of glass bead fringe, which was often partially destroyed and therefore removed. Without this fringe, however, these shades sit too high; the flame of the burner can then be seen directly and unfiltered, which was by no means the intention of the lamp manufacturer.

A special feature are the so-called "lithophane" shades. These shades are made of white, non-glazed biscuit porcelain and show their speciality when the lamp is burning and they are therefore illuminated with light from inside. This brings out images (genre scenes and 19th century landscapes) quite vividly. This is achieved by deliberately and skilfully changing the wall thickness of the porcelain. As is well known, thin porcelain is to some extent translucent. Thinner areas let more light through; these areas appear lighter than the thicker areas, which let less light through and therefore appear darker. There are also lithophane shades painted in colour. Germany and France in particular were leading lithophane manufacturers in the 19th century. These shades are extremely rare and very expensive today. I am particularly fortunate to own two lamps with lithophane shades: L.344 with painted shade and L.327 with unpainted shade. Lithophane shades are still produced today (mainly in Thuringian porcelain manufactories), but only as shades for electric porcelain lamps. They are no substitute for the old shades of kerosene/paraffin lamps.

A final group was formed by textile shades, mostly made of velvet, silk or cotton, often luxuriously decorated with lace borders and velvet ribbons. Most of the floor lamps and also large column lamps in upper middle-class households were equipped with such silk shades, which were extremely exuberant for today's taste. These shades have not survived the times either; you can hardly find them today. I took the liberty of creating a larger silk shade myself (L.146).

 

Shades made of different materials except glass
Top row, from left: Homemade cardboard shade for a German piano lamp
Homemade cardboard shade with foil windows and tassels
Small lithophane shade made of biscuit porcelain
Bottom row, from left: Brass shade with glass cabochons from the Art Nouveau period
Brass shade with glass cabochons and glass fringes of a Parisienne lamp
Homemade textile shade made of silk and lace for a column lamp