Category Archives: Lighting

Top Brass: Weldon Lamp, ca. 1930s


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.

On Base: Factory Task Lamp, ca. 1940s

Stand any closer, Mr. Capshaw, and I'll be able to count the change in your pocket.

If you’re a regular to Dorset Finds, you’ll be aware of our desire to revive tired and overlooked objects — pieces that have beauty beneath layers of factory soot and grease.

Though intact when found, this Fostoria task lamp was plagued by several coats of paint and decayed wiring. To resurrect it, the light was stripped, exposing the raw metal underneath, then rewired using twisted cloth-covered cord. Finally, an old steel gear was added to provide a weighty base. This allows the bulb to be directed to a specific area. Also, by not being affixed permanently to a work surface (as was intended by the manufacturer), the unit can be easily moved.

Write At the Light: Fostoria Lamp W/ Custom Base, ca. 1960s

Here at Dorset Finds we’re always excited to acquire retired factory lamps. If we can find a way to expand on their function, all the better.

The Fostoria light pictured is in remarkably good shape; clean battleship gray paint, clear manufacturer’s label and an unusual anodized switch. The three knuckles are tight and allow for easy maneuverability.

Forming a base to this piece is a construction-grade, steel bracket which doubles as both a writing station – with space for pens and pad – and, as a non-fixed support clamp that can be inserted into just about any vertical shelf or table space.

Enjoy the Silence: Drive-In-Movie Speaker Lamp, ca. 1940s

There are certain iconic designs that, in some form, helped to define a period. These seminal objects shadow our daily lives,  performing their distinct functions in a way that elicits a response from us and, in turn, shapes our perceptions of a given era.

There were a number of major drive-in movie-theater speaker producers during the mid-20th century: RCA, Simplex and DITMCO models lined the aisles at hundreds of drive-in locations around the country. Perhaps the biggest — and arguably, most desirable — was the Eprad. These cast-aluminum speaker casings embody a mastery of the understatement. Their solid curves form a front grill, mirroring automotive styling of the same period.

This unit has been modified to become a lamp, rewired with cloth cord and an adapted volume control that now commands the on/off switch. Its surface has been buffed to bring out the unmistakable aluminum finish. The original bracket is present at the rear, allowing for easy wall-mounting.

Heavy Medication: Illuminated Drugs Sign, ca. 1940s

Here in the U.S., drug stores can be spectacularly confounding. Walking the aisles, one can find vitamins, supplements, bandages, ointments… or speak to a medically trained expert, qualified in dispensing hundreds of varieties of pharmaceuticals. Then again, at the same store one can grab a pack of cigarettes, a Snuggie and a 4 lb. bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Perhaps the business model is based on the consumer abusing one set of “products” and then remedying their ailment with another set?

Here we have a double-sided, lighted advertising sign that would have hung outside a drug store in the 1940s. The casing is wood and the glass areas possess hand-painted lettering that has gradually dried out and peeled, leaving a beautifully distressed window through which the porcelain light sockets can be seen.

This item is currently available for purchase at Modern Anthology.

You Gotta Fight For Your White: O.C. White Task Lamp, ca. 1930s

O.C. White Advertisement, 1936

Industrial lighting enthusiasts can identify a good task light at a thousand yards. Plenty of early 20th Century lighting manufactures created what are now highly sought after desk items but in this case, there is nothing more coveted to the avid collector.

With prices now clocking four figures, the desk light that sees more prospective buyers leaping flea market trestle tables to make a purchase is that of O.C. White.

Be sure, these articulating lamps were not meant to be pretty ornaments but rather, heavy-duty lighting tools that no factory work bench in the U.S. was complete without during the 1920s to 1950s.

O.C. White was established in 1883 when Massachusetts dental surgeon, Dr. Otis C. White patented his first adjustable joint. By the end of the 19th Century the company had become the pioneer in the area of task lighting. In 1939, with the advent of luminescent light technology, the company turned its hand to developing lighting for the stitching trade, hospital floor lamps and physicians examination units. Today, the company continues to manufacture a wide range of lighting out of their facility in Thorndike, Mass.

This example comes with an aged, green shade and original 8-Ball knuckle; the company’s trademark. Though darkened and worn down, the fittings are brass and stamped with the maker’s mark.

Flush With Green: Large Ajusco Lamp, ca. 1940s

If you’re a dedicated follower of this blog you’ll be aware of the infinite love affair I’m having with old workshop lamps. My apologies if it’s sounding like a broken record, but hopefully the merit of these heavy duty artifacts is self evident.

Here we have a rare find indeed: a complete and original Ajusco lamp in matte green. This alone is not enough to make it rare but what is of particular importance is the scale of this Goliath of the lighting realm. Measuring a whopping 64″ in overall length, this is the largest Ajusco task light I’ve come across. Its versatility and reach is almost unending.

Shedding Light: Ajusco Factory Lamp, ca. 1940s

The state of the decor solutions you choose is subjective. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that for my money, I prefer pieces that proudly display their wounds; aged, blemished wood, broken-in leather – and in this case – tarnished, stained steel with a marbled patination of chipped mustard, gray, rust, silver, black and green paint.

While cosmetically, this lamp, manufactured by Ajusco, shows its history, structurally and electrically it performs perfectly. The jointed knuckles move easily, the paddle switch works and the original steel shade is dent-free and cradles the light socket like a helmet.

Future’s So Bright: Bausch & Lomb Desk Lamp, ca. 1950s

The Rochester, NY-based Bausch & Lomb has been around since the mid-nineteenth century and are best known for their optical lenses. The company is perhaps most widely known for its Ray-Ban lenses but they’ve also been heavily involved in manufacturing lenses for microscopes, cameras, projectors and even periscopes!

With this pedigree in hand, who better than Bausch & Lomb to make an articulating lamp that casts a subtle yet effective amount of light without causing the eye to squint.

Move Toward the Light: Industrial Factory Lamp, ca. 1930s

The hunt for the perfect articulating desk lamp seems to be an unending challenge. Just as well, it’s a labor of love! So many variations exist across many manufacturers that it can be tough making a choice.

This unmarked lamp, dating to the 1930s is likely a “Localite” manufactured by Fostoria of Ohio. What makes it special is the aged, spun aluminum shade and porcelain light socket. The flat steel base allows for easy placement on a wall, ceiling or desk. Definitely a contender, wouldn’t you say?

Be My Light, Be My Guide: Explosion-Proof Nautical Light, ca. 1950s

The power generated from the firing of 16 inch guns is nothing short of staggering. To put down an opposing ship the size of the Chrysler building, it needs to be, right? Ships, and more so their lighting systems, need to be strong as steel – if you’ll excuse the lame pun.

This ship light has been converted to use a household plug, is encased in thick glass, accented with brass screws and protected by a heavy-duty aluminum cage. Weighing in at over 30 lbs. and a towering 17 inches, this light means business, bitch. So don’t mess with it.

Big Red: Six Foot Lighted Arrow Sign, ca. 1940s

It’s always exciting to find something rare that against all odds, survived the test of time – and the lure of the junk yard – unscathed.

This 72″ lighted red arrow sign was manufactured in the 1940s by the United Neon Sign Company of Los Angeles, CA. and originally hung outside a New York motel.  The fact that it was removed from the building’s exterior and stored for several decades is nothing short of miraculous.

It’s been rewired to now run on a standard household plug and once lit, the impressive double-sided rows of 60 bulbs blink in repetition.

It’s Not Easy Being Green: Early Fostoria Factory Lamp, ca. 1940s

Once again, that Fostoria lot have manged to sink their claws in.

Check out this indestructible ’40s task lamp, with a perfectly aged patina to the original green paint. This example also has a base-mounted switch rather than the more commonly seen toggle, at the lower end of the shade. The knuckles allow for good positioning and the manufacturer’s logo appears clearly, in Fostoria’s signature position, halfway across the front of the shade.


Shine On: Fostoria Task Lamp, ca. 1940s

My heart has opened widely to the industrial mecca that is…the factory lamp.

War-weary, sturdy and reliable, these industrial lighting solutions clamped to desks and were bolted to walls for decades. The jointed, sectioned arms made for easy spotlighting of a specific workspace while also being able to be pushed away to cast an overall glow.

Fostoria is one of my favorite manufacturers. No, they’re not the most expensive task light, nor the most collectible, but their maneuverability and patented flick-down toggle switch design (rather than a press down or a turn version) really set them apart.

Pictured is a well used, gray steel, factory version which includes a retrofitted magnifying glass.