Learn to recognize an antique chandelier

What is the difference between a French, Dutch and Italian chandelier?

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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. Sometimes a chandelier is unjustly claimed to be made for candles.

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.

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.

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.