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Dedicated to the research and advancement of information related to Victorian-era fairy lamps.
Fairy lamps are candle-burning lights. Their popularity peaked during the Victorian era. Best known of this period were the Clarke Fairy Lamps. Samuel Clarke was a candle maker and patented many holders for his candles. Other manufacturers made the lamp parts and art glass shades for his company. 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 logo – a fairy holding a wand. Hence the name – "fairy lamp." Other fairy lamps came on stands, pottery bases or in wall plaques, chandeliers and epergnes, often with nosegay type flower holders. In the late 1890’s Clarke patented the "Cricklite" style of candle lamp with clear domes to go with changing decorator tastes and to compete with more modern types of lighting. Silk shades were often added to domes. Clarke Candle Company was sold to Price Candle Company in 1910.
Fairy lamps are both functional, providing a little light to dark areas, and highly decorative to decorate the most elaborate table setting or gala. 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, lithophane and cameo designs.
Their popularity peaked during the Victorian era and continues today among avid collectors. Best known of this period were the fairy lamps marketed by Samuel Clarke, in the United Kingdom. Clarke was a candle maker by trade but patented the holders for his candles. He granted licenses to many glass, porcelain and pottery manufacturers in the UK, Europe, and the United States to make the lamp parts and art glass shades for his company and other licensed distributors. Well known companies such as Thomas Webb, Stevens & Williams, Taylor & Tunnicliff, Royal Worcester, Doulton Burslem, and many others produced fairy lamps or parts for Clarke's fairy lamps.
Samuel Clarke was a marketing genius and protected his patents fiercely. However, many companies produced similar "fairy lamps" with clever designs to avoid infringing on his patents.
Fairy lamps also came on elaborate stands, pottery bases, wall plaques, chandeliers and epergnes, often with nosegay type flower holders. In the late 1890s Clarke patented the "Cricklite" style of candle lamp with clear domes to go with changing decorator tastes and to compete with more modern types of lighting. Silk shades were often added to domes to enhance the decorative effect. Cricklites were often used in formal dinner settings and provided ample candle lighting to enhance a formal or festive occasion. The Clarke Candle Company was sold to Price Candle Company in 1910.
Several other glass and candle companies in Europe and America made fairy lamps in similar styles during this same period. Some companies continue to make these lamps today.
As you explore this website you will find many examples from my personal collection and collections of many others who made contributions to the Fairy Lamp Club and Newsletter (1996-2014). Also included are many advertisements, patents, price lists, and articles that will aid in the research and understanding of fairy lamp manufactures and production.
Finally, even after over 45 years of researching and collecting Victorian-era fairy lamps, there is still much to learn. I welcome the opportunity to pass along what I have managed to learn along the way and welcome new information from others who wish to expand our knowledge of Victorian-era fairy lamps.