We answer some Frequently Asked Questions:
- Can you identify my lamp?
- What is my lamp worth?
- I have an electric lamp, what can you tell me about it?
- What can you tell me about my non-lighting item?
- Can you repair, refurbish or restore my lamp?
- My ancestor worked for your company - do you have records?
A. Without embarking on a full-blown research project, I will do my best to identify your lamp. I have been collecting and buying & selling related items for over twenty years. I have put together a personal reference library consisting of books, original and reprinted lamp catalogs, auction catalogs, and ephemera - well over 500 individual items! I have a vast network of like-minded collectors, researchers, and dealers in all types of lamps and lighting that I can call upon for additional information.
Despite your best attempt to describe what you have, it is advantageous to include an image of it for further evaluation. Please be reminded that there were scores of lamp manufacturers that produced literally thousands of varieties of lamps and lamp parts. The Rochester Lamp Company, for instance, boasted of over 2000 styles in their 1880's catalog! Additionally, lamps can be marriages or assemblages of different maker's parts, or of lamps from different eras and it is nearly impossible to tell this from a verbal/written description.
If you have access to a digital camera, you may e-mail me an image as an attachment. Please crop out extraneous backgrounds - Ideally, I need to see the item against a plain background if possible. If you can't e-mail an image, you may send pictures to the address on the web site. Send as many images as you wish. Please note any markings, dates and patent information as they will greatly aid in the identification process. Measurements are important as well, but not nearly as important as crisp, clear images!
On average, I receive two or three requests for information a day. I don't always have time to research these requests. If I can ID your lamp, or have a general idea where to look in my library, I can provide you with some general information. If not, I can redirect you to others who might be able to help, or suggest books that you can borrow from your library or obtain through inter-library loan. Please do not expect me to give you a dissertation about your lamp; I'm here to guide you through the process.
A. I am not a certified appraiser. I have been collecting and buying and selling related items for over twenty years. While I do feel that I could give you a ball-park estimate of what your item is worth, I hesitate to do so. There are so many variables that affect an item's value, none of which can be determined over the Internet or even through pictures - including correctness and fit of the existing parts and subtle characteristics, such as repairs, which may not be apparent in the photograph. Geographic location also plays a vital role – values in my area could be substantially higher or lower in your market. A true appraisal would require hands-on inspection and evaluation.
If you need an appraisal for insurance or other legal purposes, I highly recommend that you seek out a certified appraiser in your area. There are probably local antiques dealers or auctioneers that would either provide that service, or know where to direct you. One point of caution though – anyone with interest in your item is likely to undervalue it, especially if you indicate that the item may be for sale.
A. I specialize in oil and kerosene lighting, primarily from the 1860's through the Victorian era. My research and knowledge base does not cross into the electric era at all, and I do very little with gas fixtures other than buy & sell nice gas shades from time to time. While it is true that many of the lamp makers of the period made the obvious transition to gas and electric lighting as the technologies evolved, I have little interest in these forms and have never spent any time researching them. There are likely a few resources on the Internet that deal with collecting and restoring electric lamps, but I have never kept tabs on them. I have no personal contacts with similar interests and as such, cannot direct you to someone who does.
Good luck with your research. If you do locate someone knowledgeable, I'd appreciate knowing about them so that I may redirect inquiries such as yours in the future.
A. I specialize in oil and kerosene lamps from the period of around 1860 through the early 1900's. While I do reference a few non-lighting items made by the major American lamp manufacturers of the period on my web site, I have never researched these non-lighting items. Unfortunately, I can provide little, if any, useful information to assist you, other than what may already be listed on the site.
While there are likely web sites or collectors groups on the Internet that focus on your item, I do not keep a list of these sites. If you do some structured searches on the Internet, you will likely find the information that you seek, or at the very least some good leads. Good luck with your research.
A. I currently only sell vintage and period lamp parts for replacement. In other words, if you are missing a part, or have a broken or damaged part that can be easily removed and replaced, I may be able to help.
I used to perform, on a small scale, a number of restoration services, but I've given it all up. I do not repair broken or damaged parts; I don't strip, burnish or polish metals; I don't do dent removal nor do I do welding, soldering or brazing. I do not repair broken or damaged glass of any kind. I do not electrify kerosene lamps, nor do I rewire electric lamps.
I have never developed a network of restorers and as such, cannot recommend anyone for these services. There are a number of individuals on the Internet who offer services, but I've never used them and cannot vouch for the quality of their workmanship.
A. I get a lot of requests for employment records and other documents (retirement benefits, pensions, etc.) for people's relatives that worked for the companies that I have researched here at The Lampworks. Please note that I am not a lamp manufacturer and am not affiliated with any of the companies profiled on this web site. I am a researcher; I am not currently, nor was I ever, associated with any of the early lamp companies that I have written about.
If you have any additional questions that are not addressed here, please email us.