Antique chandelier recognize

Learn to recognize an antique chandelier

What is the difference between a French, Dutch and Italian chandelier?
How did the pocket chandelier come about?
Read all about antique chandeliers here.

Van der Lans Antique Chandeliers has an extensive collection of old and antique chandeliers. In recent years antique lamps have become our specialty. The interest in old and antique chandeliers is increasing rapidly, therefore we have gathered some usefull information.

History of the chandelier

There is a variety of books and reprints of old catalogues about old and antique chandeliers, but most of them stop around the year 1910.

As many chandeliers are made after this year, we will give a summary of the old chandeliers, which are frequently offered nowadays. Besides, we notice that many people, including dealers, often think that chandeliers are much older than they really are.
The light bulb was invented by Edison in 1879. Only since 1911, the bulb could be used in private households, by using wolram-wire. So an antique electric chandelier is rare.
Antque chandeliers are sometimes fitted for electricity. They can be recognized by pierced candleholders and bobeches. The wiring runs on or along the frame, but also chandeliers of later date, made for electricity, are constructed like this. Very often a chandelier is unjustly claimed to be made for candles.

Glass and crystal

In Italy glass chandeliers were made since the seventeenth century. Especially the Venetian chandeliers are very famous.

At the end of the seventeenth century the lead crystal was discovered. This is normal with to which a percentage of lead was added. This lead in the glass refracts the light in such a way, that it splits in all colors of the rainbow. By adding lead, the glass will sing when you tap against it. A disadvantage is that lead glass is more fragile. Half crystal is glass with a small amount of lead.

Rock crystaI

In the eighteenth century chandeliers were decorated with rock crystal in Germany, Austria and France. This crystal was mined in the Alps. The rough pieces of rock crystal were hand-cut in many different shapes and sizes. We only come across this material in antique chandeliers.

Glass and half crystall

Many of the twentieth century chandeliers are decorated wih glass or half crystall drops. There are many differences in quality. The drops are pressed in a mould and later on cut by hand or machine. The quality of the glass, shape of the mould and the way of polishing the glass determine the final result. Nowadays a large number of modern chandeliers are made with Bohemian crystal, made in the Czech Republic.

Swarovski Strass crystal

Modern Swarovski Strass crystal is now regarded as the best crystal. It is very clear, free from defects and has a unique brilliance. The faceted Strass crystal has a very sharp edge. This type of crystal has been used in chandeliers since 1960.

Coloured glass

Coloured glass or crystal as an accent in a chandelier requires creativity and courage when used in a contemporary interior design, but the result can be very exclusive.

We often come across plastic parts like drops and bobeches in modern chandeliers. Plastic does not reflect the light like glass or crystal, so these lamps are less brilliant. Besides they get a mat surface. Note that plastic, instead of glass, may be used in chandeliers, which were made after 1950. We do not sell this type of chandelier.

Types chandeliers

We distinguish several different types of chandeliers.
When buying a chandelier, one usually decides on the type first. We always heve several chandeliers of each type to choose from. Usually each chandelier is ‘one of a kind’. However some popular lamps were produced in larger numbers. Usually there is some variation in the buck, the ornamental vases and the candle rings. Purchasing two completely identical chandeliers is therefore very difficult. See our page pairs of lamps.

French chandelier

This type is characterized by brass or bronze frame and arms, elegantly dressed with crystal drops and pendants. The rising central part consists of one or more decorative glass vases alternated with small branches, also dressed with drops. The bobeches are made of brass, bronze or glass, sometimes dressed with icicles. The French chandelier matches perfectly with a classic interior.
Influenced by the Art Deco period, French chandeliers were also made in nickle, a colour that goes beautifuly with a white or modern furniture.

Maria Theresia chandelier

Maria Theresia, empress of Austria in the eighteenth century, fell in love with Bohemian chandeliers when a new, lyre-shaped, chandelier was delivered at her palace in 1746. This type of chandelier bears her name ever since.
Besides the from, this type of chandelier is characterised by flat, gold painted, steel arms, coated with glass strips and rosettes following  the curve of the arms and dressed with drops.
The rising central part consists of one or more decorative vases. A proper Maria Theresa chandelier has an open centre,  containing an extra lamp, glass pinnacle or glass ball. This chandelier has been manufactured in many different shapes and sizes and does not require an antique setting. It also matches beautifully with white and contemporary furniture.

Basket chandelier

The basket chandelier, sac à perle in French, has been introduced around 1750. The had delicate designs in the beginning. From de central ring, which supports the branches, chains of cut glass run to a smaller ring on top, like a tent. There are two different types, the tent and waterfall chandelier, and the tent and bag chandelier. The waterfall part consists of a lot off cut-glass drops or icicles. The bag or basket is made of strings of glass beads or buttons. Later on, when electricity was introduced, armless types were made, with only internal ligting. This type is very popular because of its simple form and its shielded light.

Dutch chandelier

The classic Dutch chandelier has been known since the fifteenth century and it was very popular, especially in the Netherlands. The chandelier is made of brass or bronze and is characterized by curled, S-shaped arms and a baluster-shaped body, which provided a beautifully reflecting surface, when highly polished. The weight of the heavy brass ball keeps the chandelier in balance and prevents it from swinging.
These chandeliers were often made for churches, but they were also used for domestic lighting. The simple, recognizable form matches very well with most rooms.
Since 1950 chromium-plated and nickel- plated Dutch chandeliers were made, which perfectly fit in a modern setting or in a kitchen with stainless steel elements.

Italian chandelier

The Italian chandelier is an elegant chandelier, made of gilded metal.
Sometimes the graceful metal frame is decorated with strings of small glass beads and covered with glass drops in many different shapes en colours, at times even opalescent glass was used.
These dazzling coloured chandeliers look less formal than the classic French chandeliers.
An individualistic statement in your room.

Lantern and hall lamp

A lantern was usually hung in a hall and vestibule.
Characteristic of a lantern is that the candles were shielded by windows against the wind.
The most common shapes are round and hexagonal.
A lantern can be austere and simple, but it can also be decorated in a baroque way, suitable for any hall.

Chandelier at home

In order to select the perfect chandelier, it is important to know which one is suitable for your home. You have to take into account the height of the ceiling and the size of the room.
If you have a vast room, possibilities are numerous, but for a smaller room you have to do some homework. If the chandelier will hang in an open space you have to be careful.
A small chandelier is at least 40 cm high, adding the chain and the cover, it will reach approx. 60 cm.
This means that the height of your room should be at least 260 cm. If you are looing for a chandelier above your dining room table, there are many possibilities. We recommend at least 160 cm from the lowest point of the lamp to the floor. A ceiling height of 240 cm is sufficient.

Most chandeliers have a diameter between 40 to 100 cm, this is a normal size for most rooms. A larger chandelier requires a higher ceiling or a very large room.

Restoration and cleaning

All our lamps are thoroughly cleaned and, if necessary restored.
In order to clean them, we disassemble the antique chandeliers, we fit them with new wiring and lamp holders and reassemble them. This is necessary for old wiring can be dangerous. All drops are removed, washed and dried carefully, and reattached with new brass wire. For a more antique look, we colour them.

The frame of the chandelier is usually made of brass, bronze or iron, sometimes it is gilded. We clean the frame very carefully, removing nicotine, grease and dust, but leaving the old patina that gives the chandelier its distinguished appearance, as it is. Each lamp and each chandelier, depending on the state they’r in, get a specific treatment.

Sometimes it takes a couple of days to restore a lamp, but the final result, a beautifully sparkling old chandelier, is a reward in itself. If you want to be sure that a chandelier is properly restored, always check for damaged or missing glass drops, messy wires and drops, attached to the lamp in the wrong order. A chandelier catches everyone’s eye and should be in perfect condition.
We only restore chandeliers of our own.

Buying tips

Now you know a bit more about antique chandeliers and antique lamps.
* do you like the lamp, its shape, design, composition, colour etc.
* is the size right? Not too high, too large or too small?
* is the lamp technically in safe condition?
* is the chain strong and reliable?
* does the lamp have any severe damages or restorations?
* is it clean?
* are the bobeches identical?
* are the glass vases in the center in good condition?
* are the glass or crystal drops in good condition?
* no drops are missing?
* are the identical drops really identical?
* are the drops arranged in the right order?
* is the lamp dressed with the correct drops?
* are the drop connections in good condition? (not corroded)
* are the drop connections identical in size and colour?
* are the strings of glass beads identical in length and size?

After answering above questions you are able to make the right decision.