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The TV Lamp Collectors Blog » History

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

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…)

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…)

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…)

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…)

The Passing of a Legend

Friday, August 31st, 2007

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Lonnie SikesLonnie Sikes: 1908-2007

The community of Bangs, Texas has lost one of its finest, as Lonnie Sikes passed away at a local nursing home on August 30th. Lonnie was a successful insurance agent and real estate broker, and a significant factor in the towns development. He was also the last surviving founder of the Bangs lamp factory, Texans Incorporated. Lonnie was intelligent, personable, and extremely knowledgeable regarding the history of Bangs. He will be missed.

Services will be held at the Bangs First United Methodist Church, Sunday September 2nd at 3:00 with with Rev. Wayne Lewis officiating. Interment will follow in the Bangs Cemetery.

2007 Texans Inc. Reunion

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

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Texans Inc. Steer Head TV LampIf you’re a serious mid-century lamp collector, the Texans Incorporated Reunion should definitely be on your calendar. It will be held on November 10th, 2007 at TexasBank in Bangs, Texas, and admission is free. Many former employees and collectors will be in attendance, and all sorts of lamps and historical data will be on display. Further information will be posted as it becomes available, both here and at texansincorporated.com.

See you there!

A Tail of Two Mermaids

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

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Two Mermaid TV Lamps

Two “mermaid and shell” TV lamps, similar in size and with many design elements in common…did they originate from the same pottery? That question can be answered with a definite “maybe”. (more…)

Insights from a Morton Pottery Co. Catalog

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

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Morton Pottery Co. Catalog Page

When you research the history and products of the various potteries one is faced with many obstacles. Given that approx. 50 years have passed, many of the former employees are gone, taking with them facts that simply cannot be acquired from any other source. But once in a while a product catalog will turn up, and these can be extremely valuable. The catalog page shown above is in the collection of Burdell Hall, undoubtedly the most knowledgeable historian of the Morton, Illinois potteries. None of the products shown are indicated to be lamps, but at least two of them were certainly available as such. (more…)

Did potteries plagiarize designs? You Bet!

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

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It’s often hard to determine the maker of a given lamp, particularly when more than one maker used the same design. This sort of “borrowing” took place more often than one might realize, with even the largest potteries getting into the act. I suspect that the reasons behind this are twofold. (this is just me talking…I could be wrong) First of all, the legal climate of the ’50s/’60s was certainly less “lawsuit-happy” than today, and such plagiarism was no doubt easier to get by with. Also, I’ve heard it said by several people in the industry that a “15% rule” applied to copying designs. (more…)

Vintage Snapshot: Midwest Pottery

Monday, August 27th, 2007

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Let’s see…what interesting photo can I share with the TV Lamp Nation?

So what’s going on here? First off, the location is Midwest Pottery in Morton, Illinois. It is sometime in the 1940s, and we see Richard Dunn and Howard Kron working on the first step of building a new kiln…tearing down the old one! (more…)