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A buyer’s guide to: Antique lighting


From humble antique table lamps to dazzling crystal chandeliers, antique lighting is a wildly vast market. Which is what makes it a thrilling space for collectors and dealers to dive into. Many antique candlesticks, lamps and lights are highly decorative - it’s these design elements that helps to determine the age and value of many pieces. Other factors that can help us distinguish how much antique lighting is worth include hallmarks, manufacturer markings and nuances in the construction of each antique. Whether you’re sourcing your antique lighting from a specialist dealer, auction, fair or centre, there are a number of important pieces to look out for. From antique standard lamps to flamboyant candelabras, this handy guide should help you make sense of it all:

Different kinds of antique lighting

Antique candlesticks
Antique glass candlesticks dating back to the 18th and 19th century are common finds among dealers, at fairs and auctions and even the odd car boot sale. Look out for antique candlesticks for sale with a ‘baluster’ stem with beads of air in the glass - the sort often seen on 18th-century wine goblets. These value at up to £1,500 per piece. Later antique candlesticks often display twists of air in the glass and you can get an extra £500 on top for them. Some antique candlesticks have ‘drops’ used to reflect light (known as lustres) and value at around £2,000 per pair. Land upon an antique candelabra for sale - candlesticks with branched holders - and you’re looking at prices ranging between £5,000 to £35,000. 

Antique chandeliers
Despite their association with grand and luxurious settings, there’s an antique chandelier for sale to suit almost any interior. Homes don’t have the ceiling height that they used to, but this style of antique lighting is still hugely popular - adding a stunning sparkle to any space, from dining tables to stairwells. Any antique chandelier for sale should be checked for the sharpness of the cut - the first sign of quality in any piece. 

Early 17th-century chandeliers were basic glass designs, with the sole purpose of catching the wax dripping from candles. As glass-cutting techniques evolved in the 18th century, pretty pendants and crystal droplets were crafted into most pieces. Elaborate antique chandeliers sell for as little as £5,000 and as much as £50,000. When electricity was invented in the 19th century, chandeliers changed again. These pieces often came with fake candles and flame-shaped lamps - you’ll find them selling at anything between £1,000 to £10,000 at auction.

Antique wall lights
Art-Deco-style antique wall lights are hugely collectable - especially those crafted by masters such as Tiffany, whose antique lamps are adored for their natural shapes and mosaic stained glass. Antique wall lights (also known as sconces) in candelabra style (two glass arms or more for holding candles) are a rare find. A pair dating back to the mid-18th century can sell for up to £30,000. Even copies can fetch up to £3,500 at auction.

Antique lamps
Antique lamps are as diverse as the homes they go into. Many moulded glass antique lamps were produced in the 19th century, with heavy coloured bottoms. Simple pieces can be found in the style of a Classical column with brass or silver plated details - they sell for up to £1,000 each. On the other side of the price scale, 20th-century Wisteria table lamps antiques by Tiffany can sell for more than £100,000. Other notable makers include Galle and Lalique - examples can bring in anywhere between £8,000 to £60,000. With the arrival of electricity came more bulbs - these kind of antique lamps might be found with chandelier drops worked into them and sell for a up to £400.

Where to buy antique lighting

As with all antiques, the best finds are early ones, by top makers, in unusual designs and original condition. Others, as is often the case for lovers of antiques, may simply just catch your eye and reel you in. You’ll come across them at fairs and auctions across the country, as well as specialist dealers and antiques centres. It’s important to fully research antique lighting - from 19th-century candelabras to antique wall lights - to make sure a piece is authentic. There’s no doubt about our antique lighting for sale: every piece from our dealers at Hemswell Antiques Centre is a genuine, high-quality treasure. Browse the selection today or visit our centre in person to see antique lamps, chandeliers, candlesticks and more in full glory

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