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Is this Desk Lamp Authentic?
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Matt



Joined: 25 Nov 2009
Posts: 411

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:14 pm    Post subject: Is this Desk Lamp Authentic? Reply with quote

I came across this at an antique store. Judging from the socket and the electrical cord, it looks to be from the 30s or 40s. The owner says it came from "some hotel he built in Asia." Did the Imperial Hotel used such lamps? What's the value of such a piece? The wood is very blond, not the cherry so many reproductions are made from.

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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 16099
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cherry has been known to fade; the grain and what's left of the color do speak to cherry. That said, I wonder why cherry -- an excellent furniture material -- continues to be used for Wright-designed pieces, when the architect himself never specified cherry, as far as I know. He clearly preferred (in this order, and depending on era) oak, mahogany, cypress, and redwood.

Someday someone will uncover and publish the story of this lamp design. It appears often in Wright structures, whether placed there by the man himself or (more often, I believe) imported by Wright fans as a token of their respect and interest. It appears to be a one-off in his work, not quite like anything else he designed. Perhaps it was designed by an apprentice ?

Did the lamp first appear at Taliesin North, in the residence ? I don not believe there is a connection to the Imperial Hotel -- the design is later than that, isn't it ?

SDR
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Unbrook



Joined: 08 Jan 2005
Posts: 706
Location: Lakewood, Ohio

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:00 pm    Post subject: Lamp Reply with quote

A quick search on line show a taller lamp with a fussier shade. It looks like shirred fabric. My first inclination would be to dismiss it, but you never know.
More investigation to follow!
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 16099
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.shopwright.org/product/lamp-taliesin-large/lamps


Here is what Carla Lind has to say about the "Taliesin Lamp," in her 1999 50 Favorite Furnishings by Frank Lloyd Wright:




The lamp she shows, at Taliesin, seems to be made of cypress. It lacks the cross-piece visible in the photo above. Something isn't right there . . .

SDR
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Matt



Joined: 25 Nov 2009
Posts: 411

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the cross piece is curious. The modern knock offs have no gap from the cantilevered arm to the shade. The better once do have that gap and I assume the shade is supported from the vertical support or somehow from the bulb itself. This one has the not very elegant cross piece form which hand metal pins that hook through eyes on the shade, thus suspending it.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 16099
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The above arrangement may have been the result of the need to access the key switch on the lamp socket. Wright's design (see link) perhaps made use of a line switch; the placement of the socket at the top of the shade doesn't seem to lend itself to the use of a socket switch . . . unless it was a pull chain.

This lamp exposes Wright's lack of familiarity with wood structure, as I see it. The base and the shade are lovely, and sound; the support bracket is less so, particularly when the top arm begins to sag as the inadequate miter joint at the bend begins to let go. That joint should be made as a multi-blade finger joint, to provide adequate glue surface at a right-angle joint of slender dimension. The miter is formally pure; it lacks strength when used as a structural connection.

SDR


Last edited by SDR on Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:46 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Matt



Joined: 25 Nov 2009
Posts: 411

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't see these lamps having a pull chain switch given the cantilever design. And I'm not sure how faithful the repros linked to above are to the originals. Anyone have any photos of an authentic lamp from the period? That's what really got me thinking about this piece…that the socket and cord are period and who else but Wright has having such a lamp made back then?
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 16099
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Google "Taliesin Lamp" and look at Images; virtually every example shown has the same setup as in the link I provided above. That is, the socket seems to be supporting the shade -- perhaps via a special four-legged spider attached to the socket ? No shadow of it is cast on the shade. I do believe most of these lamps are of relatively recent manufacture.

The photo Lind shows in her book, taken at Taliesin, shows a socket of a more conventional type, depending directly from the wood arm and supporting the shade (in a slightly off-center position). I have seen photos of lamps with some sort of visible cords or wires suspending the shade from the arm . . .

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 16099
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps the lamp you found at an antique store is indeed of the original type. You might want to grab it if it is reasonably priced. I'll continue to look for photos of earlier examples.

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 16099
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found photos of the lamp in Taliesin bedrooms -- three examples, all with sockets supporting the shades (and one shade sitting askew). The photos were taken by Yukio Futagawa and published in 1975.

SDR
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5823
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lloyd Lewis house:
http://www.ambienceimages.co.uk/m/media/06f45af8-67e9-11e1-a104-63f2cd5669b0-lloyd-lewis-house-1939-libertyville-illinois

I have a reproduction done in oak, made in the 1980s which is similar to what you have posted. Mine, however, has the switch on the cord and the space between the crosspiece and shade seems to be smaller. If the price is reasonable, (under $750.00) buy it! If it's more, they are selling it as a non posthumous piece, and it would require extensive research to authenticate the provenance.

I think the cross piece is fine. We need to remember that Wright was constantly tweaking his designs, so many different versions might be based on an "original".


Last edited by peterm on Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Matt



Joined: 25 Nov 2009
Posts: 411

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Peterm, I appreciate the insights. As in the photo you attached, it seems oak was his go-to wood. This one almost looks like maple.
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5823
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually think that by the time Wright designed this lamp, he had abandonded oak in favor of red tidewater cypress. I can't think of any Wright originals made from cherry...Yours very well could be cypress and original!
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 16099
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is certainly not cypress, from the photo. I wonder what the dark "scribble" is at the left hand rim; the dark grain at front is like what we see with cherry. I'll post the photo of Peter's lamp that he sent, and the cypress one (?) Lind found at Taliesin.

SDR
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Unbrook



Joined: 08 Jan 2005
Posts: 706
Location: Lakewood, Ohio

PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 9:08 pm    Post subject: Lamp Reply with quote

I don't think it is from the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. The room interiors I can find online show a taller lamp with a fussier shade.
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