Shades of Glory 1870–1970

A light is two things: the fixture, which contains the socket, and the shade. In many ways, the shade defines the overall style of the light. A metal cone shade can create an edgy, industrial look, while a sparkling prismatic shade can take things in a more romantic direction. For this tour through the Rejuvenation archives, we’ve focused on some of the prettiest glass shades we could find. Enjoy!

In the 1870s and 1880s, handpainted shades like these c. 1880 examples from the Meridian Flint Glass Company were common for higher-end gas fixtures. (courtesy of Paul Ivazes)

The 1880s and 1890s saw a shift from painted shades to colored and opalescent glass, like these 1893 twist and hobnail patterns from United States Glass. (courtesy of the Museum of American Glass in West Virginia)

The turn of the century brought with it a new and wider range of popular glass types, from the tinted treatments shown at left from Albert Sechrist in 1905, to a myriad of domestic and imported “art glass” types as sold by the Western Gas Fixture Company around 1910 on the right. (Rejuvenation Collection & Klemm Reflector Company)

In 1906, R. Williamson & Company showed this awesome range of glass among its offerings, including numerous pieces in Ruby, Pink, Blue, and Straw Opalescent – otherwise known as Vaseline by collectors today. (Rejuvenation archives)

In 1912, Macbeth-Evans Glass Company offered these bold shades at the height of the Arts & Crafts trend, as alternatives to the more expensive art-glass shades of Tiffany, Steuben, and Quezal. (Rejuvenation archives)

While gas lighting was disappearing by 1920, kerosene lamps remained quite common (especially in rural areas). Pittsburgh Lamp, Brass & Glass Company offered these stunning decorated examples. (Rejuvenation Collection)

Improvements in bulb technology after 1910 led to the popularity of “decorated shades” like these. They featured handapplied treatments on the surface of the glass, which brighter bulbs could pick up. (Rejuvenation archives)

In the 1920s, many companies specialized in handpainted decoration and delicately tinted etched treatments. Few did it better than Consolidated Lamp & Glass around 1925. (Rejuvenation archives)

By 1930, when Moe-Bridges offered this line up of wonderful painted shades, bold new color treatments and applied images were heralding the arrival of Art Deco. (Rejuvenation archives)

The explosion of color and new ideas in the 1930s – at the height of the Great Depression – transformed the lighting landscape. This collection of images from 1930s lighting catalogs shows the amazing range of color options available during the peak of the Art Deco and Streamline styles. (Rejuvenation archives)

Fancy lighting glass during the 1940s was overshadowed by war and the disruptions it brought. These fixtures from Lightolier in 1948 show painted shades that were about as colorful as things got. (Rejuvenation archives)

In the early 1950s, center-post and bead-chain fixtures with softly tinted bowl shades became especially popular in bedrooms. (Rejuvenation archives)

Lightolier, always at the forefront of mid-century lighting trends, introduced a special glass in its Claremont series around 1953 that fused fine amber frit (ground glass) to clear or white-painted shades for a sophisticated “champagne” look. (Rejuvenation archives)

By the end of the 1950s, Mid-Century Modern lighting led the market – and colored glass shades in daring angular or organic shapes defined the look. Prescolite offered this series of imported Scandinavian pendants in 1962. (Rejuvenation archives)

The 1960s saw the purity of Moderism evolve into both more eclectic and more traditional directions, as can be seen in this selection of fixtures from Moe Light in 1965. (Rejuvenation Collection)

In the 1970s, “stained glass” lights (on the right) from Progress swept America’s pizza parlors, ice cream shoppes, and kitchens. And plastic, as on the smoked acrylic dome (left page, center), started replacing glass as the shade material of choice. (Rejuvenation archives)