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The TV Lamp Collectors Blog

Lamp of the Day

Posted September 20th, 2007 by Mark

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Claes “Kittens on a Pillow”

Claes Kittens on a Pillow This is too cool… a variation of the Claes “Glowing-Eyed Siamese Twin Kittens T-V Lamp” that includes a pink pillow/cat bed! The cats and pillow are not fused together, the lamp set into position on the base. Although the pillow isn’t marked it was clearly designed specifically for the purpose of supporting the cats, their contours fitting perfectly. Is this rare? You bet your sweet bippy! The lamp itself is relatively scarce, but the pillow is extremely rare. I should mention at this point that the example shown here is currently listed on eBay, and is auction #300153002999. Read more…

Notice to Readers

Posted September 16th, 2007 by Mark

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I’m off to the hospital tomorrow to have a “minor” surgical procedure performed. (Is “going under the knife” ever minor?) I’ll be home same-day, but my recovery speed could put a damper on my posts for a few days…or not. I just didn’t want y’all to panic if there’s a brief, deafening silence!

Lamp of the Day

Posted September 15th, 2007 by Mark

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Three-Cat TV Lamp (maker unknown)

3 Cat TV Lamp This interesting lamp has developed great popularity for what it isn’t… it isn’t a Claes! It appears to be a creative re-working of Leland Claes Siamese Cats, with the addition of a kitten on the left, resulting in a format vaguely similar to the Lane & Co. 3-Cats design. In previous posts I’ve spoken of an unwritten “15% rule” regarding the use of designs from others, and the kitten would have cleverly met that criteria. So who made these lamps? The only marking is Made in Calif. scripted across the bottom, which isn’t much help. My pet theory is that it could have been done by William Hirsch Manufacturing, the company that is generally considered to have made Claes’ designs. I’m of the belief that the designer and manufacturer came to some sort of disagreement, with Hirsch opting to carry-on with modified versions of the Leland Claes lamps. Read more…

Nifty TV lamps Now on eBay!

Posted September 14th, 2007 by Mark

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Kron/Texans Inc. Poodle & Pug (white poodle), auction #260160429809.

Phil-Mar Asian Woman (pink), # 110170173382.

Lane & Co. Siamese Cats (2 cat version), #190153041428.

Jacquelin Panther (black, with original stamped marking!), #160157746489.

Cali-Co of California “Bird on a Log” (red), #130153688902.

Gonder/Bradley “Old Mill”, #150161569610.

Hollywood Ceramics Dove (chartreuse), #280152972060.

Leviton: The Light Behind TV Lamps

Posted September 13th, 2007 by Mark

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Leviton AdvertisementI’ve been contacted by many collectors looking for help in identifying their TV lamp, often confused that the only marking they can find is on the switch, Leviton. While the name appears on most lamps, they were responsible for just the electrics, as Leviton was one of the largest producer of electric switches and lamp sockets in the world. Founded in 1906 by Isidor Leviton, the company remains a thriving family-owned enterprise. Initially focusing on gas lighting, Leviton was quick to shift their focus towards electrical fixtures, the arena in which the company was to excel. Isidor’s son Harold was an active part of Leviton beginning in the ’40s, becoming President and CEO in 1965. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at the time of his passing on September 8th, 2007. No, Leviton didn’t make lamps, they made them work.

Auction Jargon: What Constitutes “Rare”?

Posted September 12th, 2007 by Mark

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Leland Claes Tigers TV LampA member of the TV Lamp Forum posed an interesting question: what does an eBay seller mean when they call a lamp rare? The cynic in me knows the answer: It means they want you to bid. While eBay discourages inappropriate claims, a term as nebulous as “rare” is hard to control. Actually, it could be argued that all TV lamps can be said to be rare. But does it matter? Rarity can be a huge plus if the lamp in question is also desirable. On the other hand, dozens of TV lamps are extremely uncommon, yet they get no respect in the marketplace. For a lamp to be truly cherished by collectors it first needs to be a terrific lamp in terms of appearance, and preferably from a designer and/or manufacturer that is popular with collectors. If those criteria are met, then rarity only fuels the fire for a frenzied bidding war. Read more…

Mystery Lamp

Posted September 11th, 2007 by Mark

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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…) Read more…

Manufacturer Profile: Cactus Craft of Arizona

Posted September 10th, 2007 by Mark

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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. Read more…

Lamp of the Day

Posted September 8th, 2007 by Mark

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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? Read more…

Manufacturer Profile: Tele-Vision Clock Corporation

Posted September 7th, 2007 by Mark

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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. Read more…