Your Guide To Antique Lamps

If you have ever been to an antique sale, store, or market you probably have seen a unique looking lamp. Well oftentimes these look antique, that is not always the case. If you aren’t an expert on all things antique, it can be hard to tell whether an item is truly old or if it is just a more modern replica. Luckily, there are a few common ways to tell the difference between a truly antique lamp and a knock-off.


On top of this, even if a lamp is truly antique, that does not mean that it holds any worth. The value of an older lamp is perhaps more difficult to determine than its actual age. As always, getting your lamp appraised by a professional is the only sure way to guarantee it’s worth, but fortunately there are a few tricks that can help you determine if it is even worth it to have it appraised! 


Focus On the Details


One way to tell the value and authenticity of an antique lamp is by looking at the small details and components of the lamp. Often, antique lamps have an abundance of ornamentation that goes along with it. Whether it be a detailed glass lamp shade, the fittings, or the material it is made of, most valuable antique lamps are highly decorative and are made with expensive material. If a lamp seems to be made out of cheap material or seems rather plain, it is most likely not an antique


Even if a lamp’s authenticity is not in question, if it is missing decorative pieces, its value will most likely decrease. In order to get the highest price for your antique lamp, all of the original décor should be intact. While typical signs of age are expected, such as chips or scuffs, none of the components of the lamp should be missing


What Is the Working Condition?


Often when dealing with antiques, whether or not it fully functions has a huge effect on the valuation of an item, and lamps are no different. While its working condition might not hint towards its authenticity, it does play a major role in its worth. The value increases rather significantly if a lamp is in working order.


Also if it is an electric lamp, having the original lightbulb can also impact the valuation of the lamp. Old lightbulbs are often considered to be worth just as much, if not more than the lamp that goes along with it. This means that if your lamp contains its original lightbulb, it’s worth will most likely go up exponentially. 


Check for Markings


Often with antique home goods, the maker of the item will have put their mark onto the item in order to claim craftsmanship for the good. This is especially true with lamps. The value and authenticity of a lamp can either increase or decrease depending on whether the item contains a maker’s mark or not.


If a lamp does not contain a special marking, this does not necessarily mean that the lamp is not truly vintage or antique, but it does make it harder to prove how old the lamp really is. On the other hand, a maker’s mark does not guarantee that an item is vintage. In many cases, research is required to determine how old the mark is and whether or not it is an original mark. 


Unfortunately, many con-artists will try and recreate famous special markings in order to scam people into thinking the markings are the real thing. Some of the ways you can tell a mark is fake is if it looks stamped on or if it looks dissimilar to other authenticated marks from the same artist. Most fake marks are stamped on because it is a fast and easy way to replicate a marking, because of this you may be able to tell it is a fake based on whether it was stamped on or not. Another way to determine its originality is to compare it to similar marks that are already found to be genuine. If something seems to be different from your mark and theirs, your item is most likely a dupe.


The value of a lamp can also increase or decrease depending on a marking. If your lamp contains an authenticated, vintage mark, usually your item’s worth will increase because its age can be proven using that mark. Conversely, If your item contains a mark that is only on newer items or is a replica of an original mark, this will devalue your lamp and make it harder to sell.


Final Thoughts


Unfortunately, with antiques being a valuable and exploding market, it can be hard to determine the authenticity and value of items such as older lamps.  While it can be difficult to spot the difference between a real, valuable antique lamp and a modern knock-off lamp, we mentioned a few key indicators above that might help you out.


As always, Working with a professional appraisal company is the best option for knowing a lamp’s worth and legitimacy. Professional, USPAP appraisals are accepted by courts and insurance companies. Plus, they are experts in their respective fields, so you can feel confident the appraisal is impartial and accurate.


Dealing with antique lamps does pose challenges, but the tips above can help make the process smoother.