How to buy Antique Lamps

Antique lamps have a gorgeous feel to them ? from the sought-after art nouveau Tiffany lamps, which now can sell for over 2 million dollars (as opposed to the average light bulb, which costs less than a dollar!), to the mathematically inventive Mogul lamps, which were the first sorts of lights, before dimmer switches, to allow people to obtain 16 different possible levels of light intensity, there are plenty of ways a lamp can make a room in your home stand out. But what is the best way to buy these lamps? Hassling your local antique dealer every weekend? Trudging around to garage sale after garage sale in hope of a bargain? Spending up big talking to dealers across he country on the phone? We can help narrow the search for you.

Firstly, there are several popular sorts of antique lamps. Tiffany lamps are well-known across America, and are considered one of the better things to come out of the art nouveau movement of Europe in the late 19th century. Tiffany lamps have many different colored pieces of stained glass soldered together, often on a brass stand.

Kerosene lamps run on kerosene (as the name suggests!), or on oil, which burn a wick in a similar action to a candle. The tubular design and the Aladdin design are the most popular. These were invented in the mid 1800s, and are known in Britain as ?paraffin lamps?, as paraffin was a popular fuel to use in them at the time. Tilley lamps are a type of kerosene lamp which produces a brighter light by pressuring the kerosene to a gas state, which then burns at a hotter temperature than the liquid.

Oil lamps are not necessarily just kerosene lamps run on oil ? they are much simpler, with the same design being used for around 10,000 years ? a ten-thousand year old oil lamp would be a great find for an antique hunter! They are a basic apparatus to hold a wick in oil while it burns, in a similar way to a candle, and a simpler way than a kerosene lamp.

As to buying these lamps ? auctions are a great place to start looking for your beautiful antiques at bargain prices. Online auctions afford much better range of items, but are probably not the best arena if you are looking to buy genuine antiques. For these sort of pieces you probably want to inspect them yourself before sale, and it would be much better to have the guarantee that, at least, you can return to the place you bought the piece and complain, if it is found to be other than as it was described. In fact, one of the most important things you can do when buying at auction is inspect the pieces before you bid on them ? this is usually possible before the auction. To assist in your inspections, some useful items to bring with you to the auction house include a tape measure, a small flashlight, a magnifying glass, a digital camera (if you have the opportunity to view for a day or two before the auction begins) and possibly a reference guide or two.

Some other good ideas for buying antique lamps at auction are to handle and look at what you are interested in. Look for dents and chips which may make the lamp worth less than you might have paid if you hadn?t seen them. As everybody will tell you ? fix a maximum bid in your mind while you are inspecting the item ? don?t get caught up in the competition of an auction. While it is sort of exciting ? like winning a race (!) ? beware of buyer?s remorse. Auction houses don?t offer 90 day money-back satisfaction guarantees! Always ask plenty of questions, also ? especially if you have a day or two to view things before the auction commences. This is where the digital camera comes in handy. If you don?t have a long time to view things before the auction commences, you can look to other people who are examining the same item or auction staff for information. They may not know, but it doesn?t hurt to ask.

If you are looking at buying glass lamps, you will often find that a bottom and top half of two different lamps have been put together, when the original mates were lost. This doesn?t make them less old, but you may want to revise your bid if this is the case! Look at the condition of the glass chimney ? how worn or scratched it is ? and also the base. Check out the base for any dents, fading, scratching or chipped parts.

When you are looking for which names are the big ones ? the most sought after ones ? in antique lamps, keep an ear out for Angle Lamps, Coleman Lamps, Rayo Lamps, and Aladdin Lamps. Both Amazon and Aladdin websites have collector?s manuals and price guides for buying antique lamps. But as always, the best guide of what good value a lamp will be to you, is what you think of it! Check out the classics, and find your own gotta-have.

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