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The TV Lamp Collectors Blog » 2007 » September

Archive for September, 2007

Mystery Lamp

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

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Horse TV LampThe horse TV lamp shown here isn’t particularly rare, but holds great interest for me because I almost know the maker. As with all the important historical quests (who made the pyramids, where’s Jimmy Hoffa, why didn’t TV lamps also play 8-track tapes), it’s all about the search. For some unknown reason, and I’m speaking only for myself, unearthing the history of these lamps matters. In the great scheme of things TV lamps are pretty small-potatoes, and I suppose I research them with a passion that’s, well…maybe a little irrational. But hey, I might be remembered for my contributions one day. TV lamps might be seen as a significant part of 20th century culture and I’ll be regarded as a pioneer, my headstone topped with a granite panther… illuminated, of course. (gotta remember to specify that part about the grave-site electrical outlet in my will…) (more…)

Manufacturer Profile: Cactus Craft of Arizona

Monday, September 10th, 2007

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Cactus Craft Covered WagonEveryone’s familiar with ceramic TV lamps, and many have seen them made from plaster or cast iron, but a significant number used other materials all together. Anyone remember the TV lamps that used to populate tourist traps across the country, the ones made from seashells? Still others were made from wood or cactus. Yep, cactus. The company Cactus Craft of Arizona built a thriving business by making all sorts of novelty items with cholla wood, the dried skeleton of cactus. This might seem an odd choice of materials, but the cork-like cholla was surprisingly durable, and also imparted an interesting organic quality. (more…)

Lamp of the Day

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

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Maddux of California…what is it?

Maddux TV Lamp I believe that this TV lamp from Maddux of California doesn’t get the respect it deserves… what? No, I haven’t taken leave of my senses. (which I suppose could be suspect from the outset) While TV lamps have been elevated to a lofty position by collectors, it’s good to remember what catapulted them to the rank of “hot collectible” in the first place. The 1970s and ’80s saw considerable interest in the more tasteless artifacts of the 1950s, from B-movies to home decor, and this lamp would certainly have been appreciated then. TV lamps are a peculiar product of their time and today represent the epitome of ill-conceived, downright tacky design. This is too often forgotten, as they are today sometimes viewed with a solemn reverence once reserved for Roseville pottery or Tiffany glass. Providing that your sense of humor is intact, how can this cheesy (and cheese-colored!) lamp not bring a smile? (more…)

Manufacturer Profile: Tele-Vision Clock Corporation

Friday, September 7th, 2007

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Tele-Vision CalliopeNot many TV lamp collectors will be familiar with this company, but vintage clock enthusiasts are liable to know them for their association with the earliest digital clocks. Tele-Vision Clock Corp. of America and The Pennwood Numechron Co. were somehow tied, as both names appear on some items, but the nature of this association is unclear. So how do they figure into the TV lamp world? I’ll begin with a quote from a terrific website, Reverse Time:

“Many of the early TV’s did not have especially bright pictures, so viewing was done in a darkened room. To alleviate eyestrain, lamps were used to provide some dim, shadowy lighting around the TV. Most of these were cheap porcelain figural lamps and, for some unexplained reason, the most popular style consisted of a black panther prowling through a jungle scene. Grotesque planter/lamps, with their legacy of white rings and ruined veneer, were also popular. (more…)

Here we go again…another broken lamp.

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

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I knew this would happen. Postal rates go up and eBay sellers try to save a buck by shipping in tiny boxes. I received a lamp today that was packed in a shoe box…a shoe box. What the hell? Does anyone really believe that vintage pottery can be safely shipped in a shoe box? Obviously one person does. If anyone isn’t clear as to the effort needed to safely ship pottery, particularly to me, why not read, Packing Lamps for Shipment. Please!

Could this be the Missing Link?

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

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Royal Copley Rams Head TV LampGot your attention with that “missing link” thing, didn’t I? Actually, this lamp is fascinating to me, as it could show that Royal Copley did indeed produce lamps. It is generally believed by Copley historians that the company stayed out of the lamp business, and while the body of this example was commonly used as a vase, the switch/wiring on this example could be factory installed. (Haeger Potteries often converted planters and figurines into TV lamps) I’m aware that the electrics could have been added at a later date, but I wonder…it’s not easy drilling holes through glazed/fired ceramics! It’s a tough call to make, particularly without having the lamp in-hand. Before I go further, I should mention that this ram is now at auction on eBay, and is item #250161810587. (and runs out soon!) (more…)

Manufacturer Profile: Lane & Company

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

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Lane & Co. Mallard TV LampI suppose that the thing that excites me the most about researching the companies that produced TV lamps is the hunt itself, the detective-like sleuthing that is called for. Fifty-plus years have passed since any of the manufacturers were founded, and few resources exist to help learn their history. But determination often proves fruitful, and I’ve had surprising luck in gathering data on previously obscure companies…and enjoyed every minute of it. It must be said, however, that the total absence of progress on Lane & Company gets me a little miffed. Without a doubt, Lane was one of the largest potteries in the world, producing a staggering volume of ceramic wares of all types. So how is it that there’s no leads? (more…)

Have Postal Hikes put the Whammy on Auction Activity?

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

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I’m going to have to say yes, the rising cost of shipping has curtailed the frenzied trading of TV lamps on eBay, at least to an extent. Long-time collectors are accustomed to seeing the holidays slow down activity, but in the past couple of months have shown a similar downturn. I’m always watching the number of listings in eBay’s TV lamp category, a total that was until recently in the 300-350 range. Now it’s wheezing along at closer to 200 (222 as I write this), with no apparent cause. (unless you consider that back-to-school preparations could have people occupied) I’m inclined to believe that the cost of shipping a lamp, perhaps $12 before and now more like $25, to be the culprit. (more…)

Lamp of the Day

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

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Royal Fleet “Star and Moon”

Royal Fleet Star and Moon

I’m not afraid to say that I’m particularly attracted to unusual TV lamps… the more bizarre the better! This one from Royal Fleet certainly fills the bill. As with many such lamps with a juvenile theme, it’s possible that our “Star and Moon” was marketed as a night-light, but the size (and presence of a planter) isn’t really in keeping with the genre. Perhaps a Royal Fleet product catalog will surface one day, but until then we’ll just have to guess as to how it was marketed. (more…)

A Visit to the Halls of Pottery

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

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Doris and Burdell HallThis past July I took the family on a road trip that took us to a number of marvelous places, and we made memorable stops in Kentucky, Illinois and Minnesota… all of which were tied in some way to vintage pottery! One of the highlights was a visit to the home of Morton, Illinois pottery historians Doris and Burdell Hall. The renowned experts on the subject, they have researched the Morton potteries for many years, Burdell himself having worked at Midwest Potteries in the 1940s. It’s hardly possible to study pottery without also collecting, and they have a collection that is nothing short of fabulous. (more…)