‘New Lamps for Old’ so begins Doulton’s own advertising for these lamps. Particular to the 1920’s, 1930’s and possibly into the 1950’s these lamps often cause a little confusion amongst collectors who come across often long forgotten figures still attached to these charming lamp bases.
Sweet & Twenty mounted as a lamp and also as she featured in a catalogue from 1935.
As early as the 1920’s Doulton introduced their by then world famous figures mounted on lamp bases as yet another way to sell this most popular series. Diversity is perhaps the byword for these lamps…no two appear to be the same. The most popular I can find is a lamp with a square base mounted with the ever popular Victorian Lady. If you are lucky enough to find one that has never been removed from the base, you may find one of Doulton’s original paper labels underneath.
An advert for lamps from 1934.
The style of lamp base, just like the figure itself, is given a number preceded with an L for lamp. There were at least 10 different styles of base, some of which appear to have been used for particular figures. Lamp 6 seems to have been used exclusively for Clothilde, whilst number 8 was used for Cerise and number 10 for the Hinged Parasol. The bases were made of wood – with either a mohogany, oak or ebonised finish – or alabaster. I have one base in my collection that is made from wood used to create Westminster brigde.
A catalogue page from 1930 showing the Parson’s Daughter as a lamp with matching shade.
The shades too were a work of art in their own right. Tassles, cascading shades, hand finished detailing….all can be expected when you discover one of these lamps. Of course the shades are perhaps the most fragile part of these lamps and the majority have perished over the years. However, if someone has preserved the frame their are specialist lamp shade coverers out these who will re-vitalise these now sad skeleton shades.
An elaborately refurbished shade.
The prices of these complete lamps were often three times the price of the figure alone, yet they were obviously popular as they do turn up. When they do they often need refurbishing as the electric cables should be replaced. This is a relatively easy practice but you need to know what you are doing.
The enduring popularity of these lamps is perhaps best explained by Doulton themselves who advertised these lamps as “enhancing the beauty of colour and the refinement of the models” and that “nothing could be more suitable for a wedding present, for which they are now in great demand”.
All of the Doulton figure catalogues of this period state that any of the figures advertised could be mouted as lamps with “shades in suitable colours.”
To finish, a personal favourite of mine. Marietta fitted with a shade with tassles to match her costume. Although a little faded it evokes the 1930’s deco style perfectly. This lamp was exhibited at the V&A Doulton Story exhibition in 1978.