Antique Lamps for Movie Sets
There is a great degree of care that goes into constructing film sets. Designers go to great lengths to ensure that the sets they design feature authentic fixtures and furnishings that recreate the ambiance from different periods of time. Set designers frequently select iconic chandeliers, table lamps, and sconces to help their movies pop and stay faithful to the time periods they are intended to represent. Whether you're a classic film enthusiast or an avid collector, this guide to antique lamps and movie sets will provide plenty of information about the classic lamp styles you know and love. The next time you watch a favorite movie or show, you'll be able to identify many of the antique lamps they use.
Antique Lamps in the Movies
Hollywood has a special way of leading us back to the past, showing us where we've been. Set designers know that the key to audience engagement is all in the details. That's why they use iconic artwork, jewelry, and other collectibles to strengthen the integrity of their sets. TV shows have also been garnering attention for their scrupulous observance to period details. Explore some of the most historic lamps you can find in some of the most celebrated films and shows.
Collectors may better know them as banquet lamps, but Gone with the Wind lamps earned their apt appellation due to how frequently they were used on the set of the 1939 film with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. These elegant lamps deliver a refined sense of southern ambiance that lends to the antebellum setting and background of the film. However, banquet lamps weren't introduced or popularized until the height of the Victorian era, almost 20 years after the American Civil War began. These "Gone with the Wind" table lamps featured removable founts, vases, decorative stems, and globes that were often hand-painted. Banquet lamps were often made with brass, milk glass, porcelain, cranberry glass, or satin glass. Gone with the Wind lamps remain popular to this day and are highly collectible depending on color, condition, and rarity. These lamps were often one-of-a-kind, so it is important to ensure that the lampshades match.
Several years later, audiences were beguiled by film noir. The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, utilized moody lighting throughout the duration of the film. Cinematographers used art deco table lamps to set the mood or designate a character's change of mind. You will also discover the omnipresence of chandeliers, sconces, and candelabras in other examples of film noir. As films gravitated toward more vibrant sets, you'll notice a departure from the traditional table lamp. Singin' in the Rain utilized an old-fashioned lamppost as the centerpiece for Gene Kelly's iconic swing and dance number to the song of the same name.
Movie sets of the Atomic Age frequently used atomic motifs and space age symbols. One of the greatest phenomena of this era was the Sputnik chandelier, which was commonly designed with brass arms and a stark, bare-bulb look. The critically acclaimed show Mad Men revitalized interest in mid-century modern design with its carefully crafted sets. Most of the lounging spaces and offices feature table lamps with colorful ceramic bases, geometric patterns, and so much more. Reception areas were decorated with brightly colored ginger jar laps and hand-blown glass lamps. James Bond movies were responsible for popularizing the contemporary design scheme, with large and tubular chrome chandeliers to set the tone.
The banker's lamp is one of the most popular lamp styles we've seen in the last several decades. Otherwise known as the Emeralite lamp, a banker's lamp features white opal glass on the inside, colored glass on the outside, and a brass base, as well as flat sides and a back that slopes forward in the front. All Emeralite lamps are made with rounded angles and corners. You can find Emeralite lamps on the sets of James Bond, Jaws, Batman, Clue, Star Trek, and much more.
Medieval and gothic-style lamps spread like wildfire after the premiere of Harry Potter. This successful film franchise sparked a surge of interest in candlelit chandeliers and candelabras, which were used to create a magically moody atmosphere in each of the dimly-lit classrooms and offices of Hogwarts. Electrified candelabras and torchières are easy to find and look especially sophisticated when they're made of forged iron.
Lamps have been used as decoration and practical lighting on the sets of many films throughout history. We hope that this guide provided a lot of insight into some of the lamp styles you know, love, and have seen in some of your favorite films.