Category Archives: Lighting

Top Brass: Weldon Lamp, ca. 1930s

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Much is made of a handful of manufacturers’ interpretations of the task lamp. Some have been highlighted in this blog: Ajusco, O.C. White, Edon, American Fixture Co. and more. These producers adhered to a strict code of pared-back design and unadulterated utility.

Add to this group Weldon Manufacturing Co., a quiet achiever in the brass, drafting-style light arena. This New York company created ranges that included desk, clamp-based and floor lamps.

This example, with a dual-clamp base, maximizes the ease in which the fixture can be relocated. While this feature proved advantageous in drafting scenarios, it was also embraced in workshops and garages alike. Also, the wide, embossed wing nut proved an ergonomic method of tightening the joint around the lamp’s telescopic arm.

A Call to Arms: Articulating Light by American Fixture Company, ca. 1920s

Regular Dorset Finds readers will remember a post from earlier this year about the American Fixture Co. stable of industrial lighting. The mostly overlooked and underrated Milwaukee firm produced lamps with a mesmerizing array of movement, thanks to the unique double-knuckle system. While simple, the design provides freedom to illuminate a wide range of space.

This example carries an impressive 58-inch reach, while the longest single arm measures 2 feet. In total, 10 knuckles provide great flexibility and articulation. The white porcelain cord insulator is intact, and this example possesses the original manufacturer’s label.

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out: American Fixture Co. Lamp, ca. 1920s

Hunting for and acquiring unusual industrial lighting is the name of the game at Dorset Finds. After unearthing models by several manufacturers, the discovery of a new player in this arena is always thrilling and… illuminating.

The American Fixture Co. of Milwaukee produced a staggering array of arms for its patented lamps, each incrementally longer than the last. The company believed that making innumerable variations of its lighting gave clients the greatest opportunity to create customized fixtures based on their exact requirements.

The pressed-steel arms are joined by what is perhaps this design’s most interesting characteristic: double-jointed knuckles — backed with wing nuts — that allow for maneuvering each segment forward, backward and side to side. This range of movement, along with the primitive materials used, gives this piece a Metropolis-esque quality. The pictured example has four sections and 10 knuckles, affording the lamp enormous flexibility and reach.

Clocking Out: Automotive Dealership Neon Clock, ca. 1940s

At Dorset Finds, we have one philosophy: The only thing better than an extra-large vintage clock is an extra-large vintage clock that lights up! (Come to think of it, we also subscribe to the philosophies that he who hesitates is lost, and there is never an occasion where three-quarter-length pants are appropriate.)

This timepiece, which dates from the late 1940s–early 1950s was likely manufactured by Neon Products, Inc. of Lima, Ohio.

In the 1930s, the Ohio-based advertising sign maker ArtKraft adopted a technique (innovated by the Claude Neon Company, in France) of bending colored tubes of glass and filling them with light. ArtKraft grew rapidly, and with increased demand, a couple of its tube-benders started their own operation, Neon Products, Inc. Neon Products went on to produce pieces for clients such as RCA, Dr. Pepper and Zenith. In addition to creating signs, the company also introduced lines of neon clocks.

This find, measuring 22 inches across, originally hung in John Howard’s Car Store in Somerset, Penn., and was given an update in 1980 when it received a hand-painted addition to the center of the clock face. Other than that, its features remain original and unadulterated. Best of all, the neon is unbroken and the clock keeps good time.

Special thanks to Jeff at Let There Be Neon in New York for his neon clock expertise.

Return To Edon: Edon Lamp, ca. 1930s

At times it can be as difficult to seek out accurate information about a rare item as it is to uncover the piece itself. Dorset Finds looks long and hard for interesting and rare lighting that’s been decommissioned from use in factories and workshops. More often than not, lamps require new parts or at very least, new wiring to make them functional again. The payoff is unearthing something special and bringing it back to life for use in a contemporary setting.

Edon lamps were manufactured in New York by S. Robert Schwarts & Co. in the 1930s. Little is known about the now-defunct company, which perhaps explains why these fixtures are commonly mistaken for early Ajusco products. Featuring a unique arm and knuckle system that incorporates rotating steel discs, the unique retro-futuristic design allows for plenty of creative maneuverability.

Even the Dazor Brighter: Early Dazor Drafting Light, ca. 1930s

The transition of the drafting stool, from a staple of the office environment to a prominent home decor fixture, has been swift. Its functionality and versatility is unquestionable.

Likewise, the drafting lamp, which historically held its place mounted to drafting and illustration tables, has repositioned itself as a useful tool in the domestic arena.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous of the drafting light manufacturers is Dazor of St. Louis, founded in 1938 by Harry Dazey and Washington University professor Albert Perbal.

During World War II, the company became widely known when the U.S. government selected Dazor’s products to replace much of the costly overhead lighting that had previously illuminated its offices. Not only did Dazor pieces fulfill the much-needed directional light application — thanks to its patented Floating Lamp system — they were also considered the more energy-efficient option in the market. (What? There was a time when the U.S. government was genuinely interested in energy efficiency?)

At the 1938 World’s Fair in New York, General Electric highlighted the uses of the Dazor lamp in its display.

B.K. Elliott (Pittsburgh), the drafting and surveying equipment retailer, touted the patented Dazor Floating Lamp in its 1948 sales catalog as working “like the human arm.” It says: “A strong spring force, acting through a shifting fulcrum and parallelogram on both sections of the double-arm, equalizes the varying forces exerted by the arm, thereby balancing the arm in any position.”

Pictured is the earliest, patent-pending version, which provides fascinating insight into the lamp’s inner mechanism. Later, this section was completely encased to avoid dust intake. It reveals heavy-duty bolts and a large, sprung steel coil, which is the muscle that powers the arm’s reach.

Two Worlds Co-Light: Pair of Ajusco Lamps, ca. 1940s

At Dorset Finds we’ve been vocal about our appreciation of the Ajusco lamp. For more that a century, the family-run company, based in Mequon, Wisconsin, has churned out quality industrial lighting solutions. Not only do these virtually indestructible pieces perform the invaluable task of directing light to a specific work area, the patented Ajusco-Loc fixture design, with it’s three-pronged reinforcement, means that even under the most harsh conditions, socket breakages do not occur.

This exceptional pair were cleaned then stripped of their original decaying finish, leaving a desirable matte patina. After being rewired, each light was mounted to solid steel repurposed factory gears. The restoration of these lamps has given them a life of their own. Intertwined, they create drama with almost limitless flexibility of movement.