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P.O. Box 438
Pine, CO 80470
What are fairy lamps?
Fairy lamps are candle-burning lights. They come in seemingly endless designs and are made from a broad range of art glass materials including Burmese, satin glass, peachblow, Verre moiré (Nailsea-type) as well as crystal, lithophanes and cameo designs. Their popularity peaked during the Victorian era and continues today among avid contemporary fairy lamp collectors. Best known of this period were the fairy lamps marketed by Samuel Clarke. Clarke was a candle maker by trade but patented the holders for his candles. He granted licenses to many other glass and porcelain manufacturers in the U.K., Europe and the United States to make the lamp parts and art glass shades for his company and other licensed distributors. Clarke patented lamps came in three sizes (fairy, pyramid, and wee) each with at least a dome and a clear or matching lamp cup. The clear cups often were embossed with Clarke's trademark and logo - a fairy holding a wand. Hence the name – "fairy lamp." Fairy lamps also came on elaborate stands, pottery bases, wall plaques, chandeliers and epergnes, often with nosegay type flower holders.
What does the Fairy Lamp Club do?
The Fairy Lamp Club, established 1996, is dedicated to the research and advancement of information related to Victorian and contemporary fairy lamps. It is the largest (perhaps the only) Club dedicated to this very specialized collectable. The membership includes many collectors who have dedicated years—in some cases decades—to researching and collecting Victorian and contemporary fairy lamps and other candle-burning devices. They are an invaluable source of information and share their experience freely with other Club members through their contributions to the Fairy Lamp Club Newsletter and the on-line Fairy Lamp Discussion Group.
Is there a newsletter or magazine?
The quarterly Fairy Lamp Newsletter is published in the months of February, May, August, and November. The primary focus of the newsletter is Victorian-era fairy lamps, but its content is open to contemporary fairy lamps as well. In addition to articles specific to fairy lamps, the newsletter often contains photos of previously undocumented fairy lamps, classified ads with fairy lamps and other related items for sale or trade, fairy lamp auction reports, Internet news, relevant publications, etc. If you collect or deal in fairy lamps, or simply want to learn more about them, you would find the newsletter both interesting and informative.
Our newsletters have become an invaluable source of information for members and non-members alike. Our Club offers for sale complete volumes of back issues in three-ring binders along with our very popular "Undocumented Fairy Lamps" photo album. We also offer both of these publications on Compact Disc (CD) which has much more utility than the hardcopy version.
In addition, the Fairy Lamp Club's website is an invaluable resource of information. It includes fairy lamp reference materials, complete Index of the Fairy Lamp Newsletters, and several on-line articles. It also hosts extensive photo galleries of previously undocumented fairy lamps, vintage catalogs and advertisements, unidentified contemporary fairy lamps, and a webpage of "lonely parts" to help Club members find, sell or trade missing fairy lamp parts. The website also hosts several on-going research projects including: The Burmese Decorations of Thomas Webb, Fenton Fairy Lights – 1953-2002, and The Fairy Lamps of Samuel Clarke – 1887-1891. We also provide our members a means to advertise and sell the Victorian-era fairy lamps on-line. I enjoy nothing better that to see one Club member sell a fairy lamp to another Club member.
The Fairy Lamp Club website is located at www.fairylampclub.com
How many members do you have?
The members, approximately 140, are from throughout the United States with several members from Canada, England, and Australia. Our membership is very diverse with members who collect only contemporary fairy lamps, Victorian-era fairy lamps, and many members who collect both. Our membership is very constant and members tend to stay with us for many years.
What does it cost to join?
Our yearly membership fee for US residents is $20.00. Foreign membership is $25.00 to cover the addition mailing cost. This is a nominal fee, just enough to cover expenses of publishing the Newsletter. By many standards, our membership fee is very modest. In fact, I have resisted raising the fees even at the request of our members. Certainly a positive testament to the product and service we offer.
Do you hold a convention?
We just held our first meeting last year in New Bedford, Massachusetts. We are currently planning future meetings at locations of interest to our members. While yearly meetings are common among collector clubs, our membership has expressed a desire to meet every other year. The most recent meeting was well attended with members coming from distant paces including England and Canada
What is the best reason that someone should collect fairy lamps?
I suppose there are many reasons, but for me it is the glass. You cannot collect fairy lamps without a passion for art glass in general. Add to that the seemingly endless varieties, countless art glass styles, their simple and diverse origins, and lest we forget, their painful rarity, you have all the makings for a rich and rewarding collection. Each fairy lamp in my collection has a story. Perhaps how cheap it was, how rare it is, who owned it, who made it, or simply where I found it. Unlike so many dealers, I cannot bring myself to part with a single one. That said, I have a finite amount of room and someday, something has to go. Hmmm, maybe we really don't need two bathrooms?
While the beauty and diversity are at the forefront of many collections, there are a few Victorian-era fairy lamp collectors who look at them as a long term (a short term investment in some cases) investment. Choice Victorian fairy lamps are extremely scarce. Most are already in collections or museums and out of circulation. Even when a fairy lamp collector passes away, their collections are passed on to their heirs who cherish them as much as the original owner. Some collections have been in the same family for generations. And, of course, it goes without saying; the demand far exceeds the supply of available choice Victorian-era fairy lamps.
What can the beginning collector expect to spend? What's on the high end?
I would have to say the fairy lamp market is mixed. For the beginning collector there are good buys available on the more common Victorian-era fairy lamps. While that is good news for the new collector, it does little to help the seller achieve a fair market value for their more common fairy lamps. Of course, "fair market value" is in the eye of the beholder. There was a time, before on-line auctions, that "common" was not a term applied to any Victorian fairy lamps. But, with millions of potential buyers and sellers just a key stroke away, all that has changed dramatically. Today, what was once a rare find is often readily available from the comfort of your home. Buyers can be selective and often they are only interested in "one perfect example" of a particular style of fairy lamp in their collection, leaving the next one to another buyer.
For the advanced collector, the market (on-line and live auctions) is highly competitive. These collectors fully appreciate the rarity of particular styles of fairy lamps and will often pay more than "fairy market value" to add that "special piece" to their collection. While it is true that some advanced collectors buy for investment purposes, I would contend that just as many buy purely for the satisfaction of improving the completeness of their collection, at any cost. This is good news for the seller of truly rare fairy lamps. Unless the piece is damaged in some way, they can usually expect to easily recover their investment and make, in many cases, substantial profit.
As to the range of values, there are no bounds. A common Victorian-era fairy lamp may sell for less than $100. A rare decorated Burmese epergne may sell for many thousands. And, should a fairy lamp chandelier ever come on the market it may bring 10's of thousands. These extremes, and all the values in between, take place regularly as demand far exceeds the supply.
What is especially positive about the market?
Surely, the positive aspect about the market is the Internet, on-line auctions, and to some extent, live auctions. Gone are the days when "the market" was a few dozen miles from your home. Today, thanks to the Internet, my next fairy is just as likely to come from New Zealand as my local Antique Show. If fact, I think it is more likely! As for on-line auctions, the contemporary fairy lamp market is over-saturated. On any given day, 300 or more contemporary fairy lamps are up for auction. However, Victorian fairy lamps are a different story. It is not too uncommon, however, to have a few Victorian fairy lamps being offered at any given time. Very different from what you would likely find at a local antique show or shop. As for live auctions, I think they also can credit their success in fairy lamp sales to the Internet. Absentee bidding and on-line bidding at a live auction is the norm for rare fairy lamps, much to the dismay of those who sit for hours in the live auction gallery.
Any fascinating or fun facts you would like to share?
The most well known name in Victorian fairy lamps is Samuel Clarke from England. Anyone who collects fairy lamps, contemporary or Victorian, will quickly recognize the name. Clarke was a marketing genius in his era. He advertised profusely in period publications often in full color with precisely detailed drawings. In fact, many fairy lamp collectors prize the early advertisements as much as their fairy lamps. Early ads are extremely difficult to find and they often command high prices. Clarke also had a "legal streak" and patented or registered his fairy lamp designs in many countries to protect his substantial market share. Should anyone infringe on his patented designs, he was quick to prosecute and often demanded a public apology in writing for infringing on his patented design along with a promise never to do it again. Consequently, all of his fairy lamps are embossed with his name and famous "fairy" trademark. The interesting thing, however, is that Clarke never actually made any fairy lamps. He was a candle maker by trade (since 1844) and commissioned or licensed many other notable companies (Thomas Webb, Stevens & Williams, Taylor & Tunnicliff, Royal Worcester, to name a few of the most recognized companies) to make his fairy lamps or fittings for fairy lamps. The heyday for his fairy lamps was 1885-1900. His candle business began to wane with the spread of gas lighting. He sold his company and rights to Price's Candle Company in 1910.
What styles are being most actively traded?
Well, that is a tough question given the seemingly infinite variety of fairy lamps. But, to try to answer your question, I would say that contemporary fairy lamps of all types dominate the sales. That much is obvious. In respect to Victorian fairy lamps, I don't think there is a dominate style except for the more common blown mold styles and certain glass types such as diamond quilted satin glass or the Nailsea-type seem to be more common than others. That said, a choice fairy lamp in decorated Burmese would surely capture the bulk of the revenue. And, will certainly have the attention of many bidders and non-bidders alike. Sometimes, it is even fun to watch someone else spend their money. Can you imagine?
Can you provide an anecdotal example?
A good example is my personal collection, which by many standards is modest. While my collection is very diverse, you will find at least a couple dozen of the Nailsea-type and almost as many diamond quilted satin fairy lamps. The reasons I have acquired so many are the Internet (on-line auctions) and their availability. Again, I would not have nearly as many of these without the availability of the Internet. And, to illustrate the point, many of those fairy lamps came from Canada, England, and Australia. Hardly, my "market place" just a few short years ago.
How is your club doing?
Well, I can hardly give you an unbiased answer. But, to put it plainly, terrific! All kidding aside, I measure the success of our Club by the amount of meaningful information we are able to put in our Newsletter and the steady on-going development of our website, www.fairylampclub.com. Each issue of the Newsletter contains valuable information not available anywhere else. It includes photographs of undocumented fairy lamps and newly discovery information, sometimes in the form of original manufacturer design catalogs. In fact, a recent discovery was the original design books from the English firm, Stevens & Williams. We have long known that Stevens & Williams produced fairy lamps, but it was not until this discovery that we fully appreciated how they adapted some of their satin glass bowl designs to accommodate fairy lamp shades.
Our Club website is, without a doubt, the best website available to learn about Victorian era fairy lamps. The website is photo-rich to say the least. It provides our visitors, members and non-members alike, an opportunity to learn and fully appreciate the truly rewarding experience of fairy lamp collecting. I cannot begin to express the accolades we have received regarding the information on our website. Some from truly grateful visitors who were simply trying to find information on a newly acquired collection that they knew absolutely nothing about. The website provided them an appreciation for their newfound collection and, in some cases, provided them the information they needed to properly dispose of it. As I indicated, our website is dedicated to providing "information" to our visitors, members and non-members alike. Some days, it seems that I get just as many inquiries from non-members as I do members. And, that's OK. What goes around comes around.
Do you feel your membership is growing?
As I indicated, we have about 140 members. Almost all are from the United States with small, but growing, numbers from the UK, Canada, and Australia. Our membership has been steady with small increases for the past year. I would say, however, that the growth rate is beginning to level off. That said, I hope to increase the membership to 175 by the end of next year. Once I reach that level, I will "tone down" my advertising as that is about the limit of what I can manage on my own. In case you haven't figured it out, I am the editor/publisher of our newsletter and "webmaster" of our Club website? While I do all of the work it is our membership that makes our Club successful. Without the participation of our membership, there would be no Club, no newsletter, no website, and I would be "unemployed." I am forever grateful to our Club members for providing me the opportunity to learn and share information about our common interest - fairy lamps.
As a club, what do you try to provide to your members?
There are many things I provide our members, but foremost is a "community" of individuals who share a common interest. A community that has as its foundation the sharing of information. A community that is open to learning new information, even if we have to put aside what we have learned in the past. A community that helps one another when the need is there. A community that takes "ownership" of our Club and participates as often as they can. A community of friends, albeit many of us are simply e-friends. But, friends none the less.
What is the sentiment?
Of course, each fairy lamp in my collection is special to me. It may be the type of glass, unique design, or even an unusual maker. But, I must say, it is the seemingly infinite varieties of art glass that "light my candle." There is perhaps nothing more beautiful than Thomas Webb's Burmese, especially decorated in his unique style. But, in addition, I think I enjoy sharing my hobby with others the most. As you might imagine, fairy lamps are not well known, even by "experts." To be able to share my hobby and collection with so many others is certainly a pleasure to me and the real value of our Club.
How do we contact you?
For additional information related to the Fairy Lamp Club contact Jim Sapp at (303) 816-0944 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Well, as you can see, I allowed myself to ramble on. Perhaps, if you are lucky, you can glean a couple "nuggets" from my ramblings for your broadcast. Let me know if you need additional information.
I will send sample images in a separate email.
Click on the thumbnail to display and save to disk the full resolution image.
Fairy-size Verre Moiré (Nailsea-type) fairy lamp resting on a Clarke lamp cup with a matching ruffled and pulled tri-corner base with applied frosted wafer foot. Maker is unknown but may be a product of the US Phoenix Glass Company. Thomas Webb & Sons satin Burmese fairy-size shade resting on pressed Burmese lamp cup. Fairy lamp rests on rare Burmese hanging ruffled and pulled tri-corner base with applied unfired Burmese prunt. Thomas Webb & Sons satin Burmese fairy-size shade decorated in the Hawthorn (Prunus) floral design resting on pressed Burmese lamp cup. Fairy lamp rests on matching Burmese crimped pedestal base with ruffled foot. Thomas Webb & Sons satin Burmese fairy-size shade decorated in the Hawthorn (Prunus) floral design resting on pressed matching Burmese lamp cup with applied un-refired Burmese prunt. Thomas Webb & Sons satin Burmese fairy-size shade decorated in the Hawthorn (Prunus) floral design resting on pressed Burmese lamp cup. Fairy lamp rests on matching Burmese ruffled base with applied un-refired Burmese foot Stevens and Williams fairy-size shade with crimped top cased in white resting on Clarke clear crystal lamp cup. Fairy lamp rest on matching base with crimped and pulled rim. Baccarat fairy lamp in Rose Teinte with pressed Rosaces Multiples (Multiple Rosettes) pattern. Shade rests on matching saucer base marked "Baccarat Depose." Pyramid-size fairy lamp shade with embossed swirl pattern covered with mica flakes and blue threading. Shade rests in Taylor and Tunnicliff pottery base with blue floral tapestry pattern. Pyramid-size fairy lamp shade in Diamond Quilted Mother of Pearl satin glass. Shade rests in Taylor and Tunnicliff pottery base with pink floral tapestry pattern. Thomas Webb & Sons satin Burmese fairy-size shade decorated in the Hawthorn (Prunus) floral design resting on clear crystal Clarke lamp cup. Fairy lamp rests on matching Burmese ruffled base attached to brass menu holder with two posey vases. Pyramid-size fairy lamp shade with embossed vertical ribs in "End of Day" mottled glass. Shade rests in matching lamp cup on brass Ormolu stand. Thomas Webb & Sons satin Burmese pyramid-size shade decorated in the Woodbine floral design resting on pressed clear Clarke lamp cup Clarke registered "Corolla Lamp" shade with embossed reverse drape design on Clarke clear pegged lamp cup attached to cut crystal pedestal with brass fittings. Dome is embossed with Rd 62029 which was registered by Thomas Webb & Sons on 23 November 1886.
Fairy Lamp Club & Newsletter
just click on the Fairy and she will take you to our web site.