I have attached a photo of a lamp that I inherited from my great aunt. It doesn't have a marking on it anywhere, do you by any chance have any idea what make of lamp it might be?
I am not sure if it has any value but, I was just curious as I know it is somewhat old.
As soon as I saw the rectilinear slag glass shade on your lamp I thought, “Prairie School!” But then I had to ask myself why? What identifies this as Prairie style as opposed to Arts and Crafts, Mission or Craftsman?
All of these schools of design share some characteristics: oak, copper, bronze and glass are typical materials; forms are often boxy and right-angled; lines are uncomplicated and extraneous ornamentation is usually absent. To help me sort out the differences, histories and historic context of each of these schools I turned to Lee Jester, an expert on American Arts and Crafts and former owner of Craftsman Home in Oakland.
The term “Arts and Crafts” is often used as a general term. Rather than applying to just architecture or furniture, the term encompasses an ideal of social reform and anti-industrial idealism. Originating in England in the late 19th century, the term is most closely associated with designer William Morris.
“Craftsman” is the trade name for the handcrafted furniture made by arts and crafts advocate Gustav Stickely. Beginning in 1901, he published “The Craftsman” magazine extolling the virtues of handwork, design and architecture. In the US, “Craftsman” and “Arts and Crafts” were nearly synonymous and are often used interchangeably.
“Mission” style, Lee explained, was a term mostly used on the east coast. Like Craftsman, Mission was a trade name but it marketed factory made furniture. It originated in 1898 with Joseph McHugh in New York after he saw photographs of the interior of the 1894 Bernard Maybeck designed Swedenborgian church in San Francisco. He copied the furnishings and erroneously described his line as deriving from California missions.
“Prairie” is a design philosophy with roots in Chicago. It developed from the idea that wide, flat, horizontal lines invoke the vastness the horizon. Frank Lloyd Wright is the most familiar name in this genre. He designed his building to look as if they sprung naturally from the site. His furnishings were not only specific to a building: he designated specific pieces to go with particular rooms.
All of these schools of thought shared idealism: an appreciation for preindustrial craftsmanship, a concern for the welfare of workers, and the belief that the integration of art, textiles, furniture and architecture could result in cohesion and purity of thought.
I can’t quite tell what your lamp is made of but it appears to be a slag glass shade on a patinated bronze base. The scrolled feet together with the lyre and wreath decoration suggest to me that this lamp embraces the arts and crafts ideal while not quite abandoning the decorative elements of earlier pieces.
Your lamp could have been made by Bradley and Hubbard in the early 20th century; it could also be a mass produced lamp purchased anywhere in the last 40 or 50 years. The value could range from $50 to $500. As an appraiser I’d have to see it in person to gauge the age and structure before I could assign a value.