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Is this Desk Lamp Authentic?
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15926
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

People who sell antiques and other old things are sometimes misinformed, sadly. Of course your lamp may have spent time in Japan . . . maybe even at a redecorated Imperial. It is pretty clear that the lamp was not originally designed for that job, in any event.

Could we see a picture of your lamp, again ? I'd be curious to see if my original diagnosis of cherry wood might want revisiting. Cypress, like most woods, can take many forms. The fact that it has been mistaken for oak, at one point in this discussion, should be evidence of that. Cherry is probably not the only specie to be found with pitch pockets, as well.

I had thought this thread would contain, somewhere, a more incisive look at the ways the shade spindles have been shaped. Where the tapered effect is seen on the exterior, might some maker(s) have achieved that appearance by splitting a straight stick on a diagonal, sandwiching the shade material between the two tapered halves ?

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15926
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh -- I see you tried to upload your facebook photo, on the other thread. http://wrightchat.savewright.org/viewtopic.php?t=10638&sid=f0065fd71081d4a530315eaa343eb912

I can't seem to make that work either. Wanna send the photo to me ?

S
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15926
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's Matt's lamp:






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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15926
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, let's review other Taliesin Lamps we've seen.


First, a lamp constructed by Bob Beharka:




Then, a Bexley Heath lamp:




And, a lamp at the Lewis residence:







Peter's Bexley Heath:




Lamps at Taliesin, cited by Carla Lind:



Other lamps seen at Taliesin:




Lamp at Willey house, by Stafford Norris III:




A lamp made for the Dobkins residence, c/o dtc:

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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15926
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a lamp described on a Steinrag page.




http://www.steinerag.com/flw/Artifact%20Pages/PCSprgGreen.htm#1483.30


A second lamp appears in a single photo, on the same page. That lamp has the hidden shade suspension.


S
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15926
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, we can see several variations, among these ten examples of the lamp. Seven of the lamps appear to have a visible wire shade suspension. The distance that the shade depends below the support arm varies as well; Matt's lamp might have the longest wires we've seen, while the invisibly suspended shades naturally rise closer to the arm.

At least five lamps have shade spokes which descend below the rim of the shade, while others, including at least one Bexley Heath, do not. Base rings appear to vary widely across the group, relative to the shade, from large (lamps at Taliesin) to small (Steinrag lamp), with others falling in between.

(Only direct measurements could verify these impressions, as proportions can vary considerably depending on how far the camera is from the object being photographed.)

Finally, the width of the bottom shade rim varies as well, with Bexley Heath models appearing the narrowest while lamps at Taliesin, most visibly the bedroom lamps in the black-and-white photo, have the widest rims.

Carla Lind, in her text to "Fifty Favorite Furnishings by Frank Lloyd Wright" displayed on the previous page, sees the design emanating from three horizontal square rings -- base, lower and upper shade rims. This is perhaps a novel observation, and one that might appeal to those not yet "sold" on the design of the Taliesin Table Lamp.

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15926
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be so fine to find a drawing or sketch in Wright's hand, a profile view of this object. Knowing his penchant for rationalizing measurements where possible -- the use of the planning grid alone is a strong indication of this -- I would have expected the base ring and the top horizontal of the frame to extend an equal distance from the vertical member. This is how I would make my version of this lamp, I think, based on visual and physical balance as well as reflecting typical Wrightian dimensional alignment.

As a counter-example, observe the last lamp illustrated above. It is possible that Stafford's lamps, Matt's lamp, and others have been made as I suggest -- it is hard to tell from the photos.

SDR
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peterm



Joined: 13 Mar 2008
Posts: 5796
Location: Chicago, Il.---Oskaloosa, Ia.

PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are there any who are “not yet sold” on this design?
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many are in thrall; most are, as I am, pleased that Mr Wright gave us this table lamp. Sadly, it is a compromised object, parts of it not up to the
standard set by this master designer.

Specifically, the wire suspension system is, no matter how neatly accomplished, the work of a back-yard tinkerer rather than of an organic
architect. By 1930 this first attempt at marrying a lovely shade to an appropriate base should have become obsolete. Instead, its very presence
at Taliesin doomed it to permanence. "If the Master did it, who are we to say nay ?"

Here is a case where the latter-day makers have wrought a clear improvement to the early design, achieving a streamlined appearance of the
sort for which Wright is known. It is hard for me to believe that he would not have applauded this refinement -- wholeheartedly.





Take a second look at these photos taken at Taliesin. I would like to have a close-up photo of each of these lamps; the means of suspension are clearly
different from the other authentic lamps we have been looking at. There appears to be no awkward cross-bar at the end of the support structure --
and the shade is mounted closer to that support than on any of the wire-hung shades exhibited. Would this represent the architect's final say on the
assembly system and appearance ?

(The base of the lamp just below is, on the other hand, needlessly heavy-looking, to my eye. Perhaps this too was Mr Wright's final choice -- or was it
instead the willful work of another ?)







Those who have been saddled with the task of constructing one or more of these lamps can testify as to the difficulty of achieving a simple goal: make
the shade hang level. Note that lamps from Taliesin, including those in the bedroom here and at the Lewis house, further above, fail in this regard,
perhaps from misuse. The hook-eyes must be perfectly uniformly placed, in the vertical dimension, and the wires made perfectly uniform
in length. And, the suspension points are so closely spaced that any difference in the density of the rim material could cause the shade to tilt a
little. Much fiddling, and great care, are likely necessary, at the start and over the life of the lamp ? This is flawed design.

We have already spoken of the stresses placed on the joints of the base structure: one of the Lewis lamps exhibits failure of the bottom joint, while
the lamp at the rear left of the color photo above shows deformation of the upper miter joint. Here is a case where proper construction ought to be able
to overcome this structural issue. Mr Wright was never afraid to challenge gravity; it was left to his assistants, again and again, to make this happen
reliably. Could he possibly have been pleased at the haphazard result found in a bedroom of his own home ? He had no doubt moved on . . .


So, count me a qualified supporter of the Taliesin Table Lamp. No owner should regard their lamp as inferior; rather, they should be pleased
to have one at any price and in its original form -- warts and all !

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
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Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One way to suspend a shade in a way that resembles the original but is infinitely and easily adjusted to level, is to substitute a single cord which is passed in turn through all the eyes or holes, above and below, and knotted to itself to make an endless line.

. . .

Why, one wonders, is the cross-bar at the top not a square ? This would allow the suspenders to be placed further from each other, correspondingly reducing the likelihood of tilt. The square panel would be more prominent than the narrow cross-bar, but its form would be in harmony with the other parts. No hot-spot of direct illumination would appear on the ceiling above.

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 15926
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The single lamp in cherry, shown above and on the linked Steinrag page, is from Yamagiwa (Yamagiwa U.S.A. Corporation, Westlake Village, CA) and
dated 1994. Further material from the company, dated 1999, is found here:

http://www.steinerag.com/flw/Artifact%20Pages/Lamps.htm#1483.30

These reproductions were doubtless approved by someone at Taliesin and/or by the Foundation. Note the reduction of superfluous detail, and the
resolved proportions of the base: the depth of the square appears to match the length of the upper arm. All parts seem in harmony, neither too fat nor
too skinny. I would have liked to see the extra width to the shade rim that appears to be present in the Taliesin bedroom photo.

It would be interesting to know if this finalized version was drawn at Taliesin, or if it was proposed by an individual at Yamagiwa. Either way, I
would suggest that a satisfactory attempt was made to bring Wright's design "the rest of the way" to perfection. It is only too bad that the correct
material selection was apparently not made: cherry, while a fine material for the job, was not a wood that Mr Wright every employed, to my
knowledge.

It will be fruitless, I believe, to claim that either the lamps as found, or the Yamagiwa version, is the superior artifact. Clearly each has its place in the
story. No one can argue that the original lamp, and its descendants, aren't authentic in every way -- that they represent the design that Wright
apparently found acceptable; no one (I think) can argue that there isn't an unresolved issue with that early attempt, which as I see it became fossilized
before it matured.

Few architects are as adept with the tools of the workshop as they are with the tools of the drafting room; it's a fact of life that must be accepted, at
least for those careers already put to rest. Today's practitioners are no less victims of specialization. Indeed, with the increased complexity of every
aspect of their work, it seems even less likely that architects will have time for hands-on craft. But every single day spent in the field will, I believe,
give the architect an advantage over his peers, and will benefit his clients with superior work.

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
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Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matt's lamp seems to be a perfectly nice example, with (as he points out) some spalting to the wood, which I earlier mistook for pitch pockets.
Spalting is found in hardwoods like maple and birch, and in conifers, usually after the tree is cut; it results from a fungal growth. The markings are
often sought-after by woodworkers.

The lamp came with a Perkins paddle-keyed socket dating, he says, to earlier than 1910. Matt could replace that with a non-keyed socket,
introducing a line switch, which change would allow the shade to be moved closer to the bracket, bringing the lamp into line with other Taliesin lamps
seen here.

As shown in the second photo, which was made during disassembly, the shade hangs somewhat lower than normal, exposing more of the socket than
necessary. The limitation to the distance the shade can be raised is the size of the lamp (bulb) being used: the bottom of the bulb should not be visible
in a straight-on (elevational) view. The original wires, which appear to terminate in nail-heads (?) at their tops, could be shortened to accomplish
this adjustment.

Sockets may be found in different lengths. A non-keyed socket could be expected to be shorter than one with a built-in switch. A visit to a well-stocked
electrical supply house would be likely to produce a satisfactory choice for the restorer. Sockets used by the Yamagiwa company appear to be specially
made or custom sourced; they were designed to be fully exposed and have no visible set-screw or threaded barrel.

SDR
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DRN



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 3512
Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

PostPosted: Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While doing some gift shopping this evening, I thought I was hallucinating when I saw Taliesin lamps on a Jumbotron screen at the entrance to a Hollister shop. YouTube has proof that the lamps were real and possibly in the Walker house:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DKUXiO5zIqQ
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SDR



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No doubt:



Alan Weintraub photo
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
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Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the Lamberson house, pmaunu has a newly-made redwood lamp, constructed by Stafford Norris III.


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