Friday, April 13, 2018

A to Z April Challenge: L is for Lamp


When my sister and I cleaned out our parents’ home, we had to make many decisions about what to do with all the stuff. Which things are truly “valuable” and which have only sentiment in their favor? Should we sell it, keep it, or throw it away? To help ensure a future for our family’s heirlooms, I plan to leave a booklet for my daughters telling the stories of what they will inherit one day. (Not TOO soon, I hope!) With this challenge I begin my book of Heirlooms.


is for lamp.

One of my great-grandmother’s finest possessions traveled from her home in Shenandoah, Virginia to that of her daughter Violetta Davis Ryan in Harrisonburg, then to my mother, and now to me with strict instructions:  It must not pass with the sale of the house.  In other words, take it with you. 

Victorian Parlor Lamp or Library Lamp https://jollettetc.blogspot.com 
It’s this beautiful Victorian hanging parlor lamp - also known as a library lamp -  which has been retrofitted from kerosene to electric.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the parlor was the most important room in the home. It was where family gathered at the end of the day to read magazines, to look at a carte-de-visite album or stereoscope, or to play a game of cards. The parlor also was where adults were entertained on special occasions. The focal point of the parlor was a center table over which hung a kerosene lamp. The large umbrella lamp shade helped disperse light while at the same time preventing a draft from snuffing out the flame.



The pastoral design in soft shades of brown, peach, and green includes a young girl in a wooden boat as the larger scene and a river landscape with boaters seemingly continuing the story on the other side of the shade. The kerosene pot is decorated with houses and buildings dotted along the river.


Font and brass font holder

The brass hanger, font holder, and shade crown plus the full complement of prisms make this lamp truly exquisite. I’ve loved prisms ever since I watched Pollyanna charm that old geezer through the magic of prisms casting rainbows throughout the room.

In my research into the history of parlor lamps, I discovered two minor problems with my lamp. First of all, the prisms are missing from the upper prism ring. The second is the smoke bell seems too high. I think both issues can be corrected easily with the purchase of more prisms and some chain.


Prisms on both the
upper and lower
prism bands.  And
notice that the smoke
bell is close to the
chimney - eh, maybe
too close on this one!
 


















This lamp is not everyone’s taste. It doesn’t even particularly fit the style of my home, but I like what it stands for, so it will remain right there suspended over the kitchen table until the day my daughters are instructed:  It must not pass ….

Wendy
© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

20 comments:

  1. That is a gorgeous lamp, I've never seen one of those before.

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    1. I see them in a lot of historic homes that open for tours. Very Victorian.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks. I think the scenes on it are just lovely.

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  3. How beautiful! And how nice that it was made into an electric lamp. We have a ceiling lamp we have moved from house to house. It is not an antique, but my aunt gave it to us and it fits. I hope it will not go with the house when we're gone, but maybe I better write it down.

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    1. I have a chandelier that my parents gave me years ago, so when we moved we took it with us. It is not antique, but it was a big gift, important enough to keep.

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  4. Lovely lamp. Cool that it was made into a functional piece. Definitely a keeper.

    Janet’s Smiles

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    1. Yes, I too am glad it works and I don't have to fill that font with kerosene!

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  5. You have some wonderful treasures!

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    1. I am grateful for what I have inherited. I hope I don't sound like I'm bragging. It is just amazing to me that things have been saved and passed down. It shows what a sentimental family I come from.

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  6. I wonder if those pretty scenes were hand painted. A very nice treasure.

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    1. Hmm, you know, they do look hand-painted but I really don't know for sure.

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  7. Wow...that is truly a special heirloom lamp. I bet you will be looking for prisms...never know when you will have to charm an old geezer.

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    1. HA, well I did charm an old geezer over there in the La-Z-Boy to order some new prisms for the top ring.

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  8. Oh! I remember that about the prisms in Pollyanna! I can totally relate to the style of the lamp not fitting your decor. I have an old Helmscene picture that I have hanging, but I'm sure most people who see it wonder about my taste. Love your lamp!

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    1. I was not familiar with Helmscene pictures so I Googled. Yeah, I can relate! I'm sure my house has "Grandma House" stamped all over it.

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  9. Beautiful scenes on your lamp. I love it!

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    1. Thank-you. I think they are charming scenes too.

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