A Guide to buying Antique and Vintage Holophane Lights

A Guide to buying Antique and Vintage Holophane Lights

Vintage and Antique Holophane lights.

When looking at Vintage and Antique lighting the term “Holophane” is generally associated with the wonderful glass lampshades produced by the Holophane company at the end of the 19th century and up to the mid part of the 20th Century.

These fabulous Holophane glass lampshades were made with a prismatic design with deep parallel vertical ridges or crosscut prisms. Old and original vintage an antique holophane shades were made from high quality pressed glass with a high lead content. This high lead content in conjunction with the crisp and sharp detailing of the prismatic glass affords these old Holophane lampshades a distinctive, attractive and highly effective illumination effect.

The ongoing popularity of the Holophane concept has lead to the prismatic design being honestly reproduced over many decades. These reproductions vary greatly in quality and design, to be honest even the very best reproductions although good never offer the same lighting effect as an original high lead content Holophane lampshade.

Here are a few things to consider when looking for a “Holophane” or Holophane style light or lampshade.

Original Holophane Lights.

99% of the time original Holophane lights will be marked. Early shades were manufactured in the USA, France and England. If you find a Holophane shade there are a few areas to pay attention to and to inspect closely.

Let’s have a look at an original Holophane ceiling light that i recently acquired.

Vintage Holophane Light

Glass Clarity and Quality.

Here is the old holophane as found at the Antique Fair. This lovely old light dates from the early 20th Century period. The image above shows the light uncleaned, the light is actually quite grubby in this photo. Notice how the glass is picking up the light from my photography lamp and is shining and sparkling, this is despite the dust and dirt on its surface, this is the high lead content Holophane clarity.

When holding an original Holophane shade in your hands you are immediately struck with an air of top build quality, these old shades are crisp, sharp and somehow feel engineered as if they have been machined from a solid block. The glass ridges are uniform and manufactured to very fine tolerances. If you gently tap the rim of an old Holophane you will hear it ring.

Vintage Holophane lampshade

Gallery and Fittings.

If you find an Antique Holophane that has its original gallery and fittings then it’s a huge bonus as these old fittings hold many clues to the age of your find. Original Galleries and fittings will have signs of age and use including tarnish, wear and possibly splits in the brass. The fitting shown in this image is original to the shade, it is made from Brass with a pressed Art Nouveau design.

Antique Holophane Lampshade

The all important rim.

The gallery fitting rim is where Holophane placed the makers stamp. This shade is marked with the Holophane name, the patent and model number and also is marked as made in England. Notice in the image above the quality and crispness of the ridges which are still sharp despite being around 100 years old.

Vintage HolophaneCleaned, polished and ready for use.

Here is the light properly cleaned, polished, rewired and ready for use. The glass is now sparkling.

Holophane LightHung and unlit.

Notice how when hung the Holophane glass lampshade has an even shimmer and sparkle, again this is the shade picking up light purely from my photography lamp.

Holophane lampshade

In use.

Here we see the light lit with a modern low energy white bulb, now the shade really comes to life with an even glowing sparkle and the iconic Holophane glowing frilled rim.

Antique HolophaneShadowing

The frilled rim of the old Holophane glass casts an attractive shadow pattern to nearby surfaces.

More examples of Original Vintage Holophane Lights

Antique HolophaneA Pair of Antique Holophane glass shades with original fittings salvaged from a Church refurbishment.

Antique HolophaneA wide rimmed Antique Holophane and fitting with a matt graduated coating made for a specialist application.

Holophane ShadeAn Antique flush mounting cross-cut prismatic Holophane ceiling light.


Quality Reproduction Holophane Lighting.

The popularity of the Holophane design has lead the Holophane style being reproduced over many decades. There are some excellent Antique Holophane copies available that are made from quality glass and have great looking fittings.

There are also many more modern reproductions on the market which vary greatly in quality and lighting effect.

Most of todays best quality manufacturers have “prismatic” style glass lampshades available as part of their catalogue.

Holophane style lightThis Antique Style “Holophane” light is one of a number salvaged from a High Street Restaurant Chain.

Age is approx 10 Years Old.


Holophane lightA Vintage Holophane Reproduction light with Aged fittings.

Age around 1970s


Holophane ceiling LightA Vintage Art Deco styled Holophane reproduction with Chromed fittings.

Age is approx 2005

A Top Quality Holophane style light by Christopher Wray of London.

Note how the Holophane illumination effect has been reproduced really well – This light dates from the 1980s.


As you can see from the examples above the Holophane/Prismatic design has been copied over many decades and is still really popular today. These old designs offer a great fit into many styles of period settings.

Please have a look at my eBay shop as i often have a range of Antique and Reproduction Holophane lighting in stock.

My eBay shop can be found here – Hertfordshire Lighting

New Holophane Style Lighting.

There is a wide range of new Holophane Style lighting available on todays market.

Although the lighting effect will not be as sharp as the original Vintage and Antique prismatic shades some of this new lighting fits well into antique and period styled interiors.

Graham and Green offer a fine range of affordable, simple and elegant pendants with Holophane inspired designs. The Brass fittings on these modern Holophane interpretations are nicely Antiqued and allow these modern lights to fit well into a period setting.

A new Holophane Style Pendant from Graham and Green.

Please see here for the Holophane style range of lighting and other quality home interior pieces by – Graham and Green

Holophane Style LightingThe magnificent Globe ceiling light by Timothy Oulton.


I hope that you have found this information useful.

There are some great Holophane bargains to be had on auction sites, Antique shops and in flea markets.

Remember, the key to finding an original Antique or early Vintage Holophane shade is the pressed marking in the glass and the type and condition of the fittings.

If you have a restored Holophane I would love to see an image of the light and to hear your restoration story.

As always if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask me and I will always do my best to help.



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28 thoughts on “A Guide to buying Antique and Vintage Holophane Lights

  1. I love your examples of antique Holophane lights.I very unfortunately broke two antique shades recently. I am looking for Holophane shades – 12 inch diameter, 7 inches high and 3 1/4 inch neck. I hope you can help or point me in the right direction. Louise

    1. Hi Louise, Oh that’s such a shame. At the moment I have nothing like that in stock I’m afraid.
      Finding 2 replacements may be very difficult as your shades are of a larger size.
      The best bet is to look on eBay and online at specialist retailers, however the specialist retailers can be very expensive. I often buy good and reasonably priced glass shades on eBay for projects etc.

      I will keep my eyes peeled on my travels and if anything comes along I will let you know.
      Sorry I cannot be of much more help at the moment.

      Kind Regards

      1. Hi Michael, I recently acquired 3 antique flush mounting cross-cut prismatic holophane ceiling mount globes unmarked. I also have one very large bell shaped one that looks like it has (2) different type of cuts. The large one is marked on the rim and I’m pretty sure my research shows it’s from the 30s. I also have one that’s quite small and goes on like a tulip lamp that’s unmarked. All my research shows not all but most holophane is marked. Is there anyway you can help me with value and if the (4) unmarked are holophane? I do not see a picture of my marked bell shaped large one and if you scroll up from here the three i just purchased are identical to the 7th fixrure up. Really appreciate it, Bob

  2. The lampshade is my mom’s room was accidentally beaten by my dog. I’m so afraid that mom will get mad at me and I am looking for a store that is selling a pair of antique Holophane glass shades from church refurbishment. I find it very classic and it will match the theme of her room, I’m sure that she will love it once she sees it.

    1. Hi Katie. Holophane globes are getting rarer and rarer with each passing year. There are still many available through specialist retailers and salvage companies. Price depends on a few factors, size, condition, fittings.
      If you are looking to buy one I can recommend some dealers if you tell me where you are.

      Kind Regards

  3. I have recently bought two industrial old Holophane lights that require cleaning. Any pointers would be much appreciated.

    1. Hi Lynn.

      The old Holophane’s are lovely glass and provide a great lighting effect – They can get very grubby with use. The dirt can get “in” to the prismatic ridges and can be difficult to shift.

      With really dirty examples I usually soak them for a while in warm soapy water and then use an old stiff nylon brush to brush the dirt away.

      Sometimes I also use degreaser which can be bought in supermarkets from the kitchen dept. “Mr. Muscle” or similar.

      Not very high tech methods but they do work!

      Kind Regards Mike

  4. I have been looking on eBay and Etsy as well as at flea markets and find that the term Holophane is used quite widely to refer to any prismatic glass, old or new. I have noticed that some shades have an almost bluish cast even when dirty compared to others that have a very flat appearance. Is this an indication of a higher lead content? I have also noticed that there is a huge price range from thousands to very inexpensive. I find it very hard to see on a picture from eBay why some are so expensive and others are not. Are there some pointers that indicate the older aged shades? Like the ruffles edges? The screw in style at the top rather than the 3 turn screws? the metal clips to hold together the separate shade and the diff user as opposed to solid construction?
    Thank you in advance for your help

    1. Hi Elizabeth.
      You are correct in stating that “Holophane” has become a catchall word for prismatic “style” glass. A bit like Angle poise that has become a generic name for adjustable lamps or Hoover has become a generic name for a vacuum cleaner.
      Holophane glass is so effective at producing an interesting and positive lighting effect that it has been reproduced for many years. I have seen some really good modern versions from the 1980s and some very poor versions from the last few years.
      The blue tinge could be a higher lead content, I have come across some with a graduation blue and green colour which was applied to provide focus effect lower down the glass shade.
      If you pick up an original Holophane and compare it to a modern repro it is very easy to see the difference and to feel the difference as the originals are much heavier made from lovely quality glass. Yes tightly ruffled and sometimes irregular edges are a good sign of originality, many but not all originals will carry a small makers name somewhere, these range from clear marks at the neck to tiny marks on the shade surface itself.

      The smaller Holophane shades are usually mounted by three screw galleries, if you are lucky you will see an old shade with a badly tarnished and possibly dented brass gallery, these galleries are another indicator of possible antique age. The larger bigger Holophane lights were often in two parts held together by special brass clip mechanisms, I have yet to see a repro of one of these bigger lights.

      I hope this is of some help, please ask if you have any questions.

  5. I have several original holophane globes and fittings. Could you recommend a place I could get a dollar figure on their value? I have around 50 globes and fitters. Thanks

  6. Hi Mike,

    I recently bought four 1940s holophane lights that really need a good clean, could you please advise me on what to use please?

    I’m in the UK, so product names may be tricky, but I’d like to get them looking as spectacular as yours!

    Happy Christmas!


  7. Hi Michael,

    I purchased what I believe to be a Holophane at a thrift store, but am unsure how to verify it’s authenticity, age or value. It weighs around 10 lbs, is apx 12 inches in diameter and is acorn shaped. There is a band around the middle where the top and bottom shades meet, which appears to be made of plastic or very thin metal. The top shade has a vertical pattern and HOLOPHANE marking along the top rim, while the bottom shade is more of a prism pattern.

    Any information or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.


  8. Hi,
    I have a number of Holophane Pagoda Light Fittings which I have removed from a factory, is this something you may be interested in?
    Please feel free to email me for more information


  9. Greetings from Maine USA
    I purchased a Halothane lamp shade with original gallery fitting (brass with three screws and cap) with the inscription on the neck
    Halothane USA XI 150-O with the letter c within the O itself .
    Is there a means by which one could properly date this item? I believe the c within the letter o is a makers mark. the ruffled edges measure 10.5″ 26.7cm the gallery opening is 2.5″ 6.4cm Thanks Rick

    1. Hi Rick.

      I am not familiar with these markings from the USA – I have asked a friend who has more experience in US Holophanes and he suggests around 1920 – 1930. Pre WW2 – Kind Regards Mike

  10. Hi Mike,
    Great information, much appreciated. In our Church in Leicester we have 8 huge (14inch diam) Holophane-type lamps plus a substantial number of smaller ones of the same style. They are all three-piece prismatic glass, with the removable base-piece and brass fittings. The big ones have a complete double-ring of brass connecting the two main parts together and providing chain-rings to suspend the whole thing from the ceiling.
    These huge ones are required to be lowered the 50 feet (or whatever) to change the bulbs, and we have been able to step down from the 500w tungstens of years ago, via halogens, to 100w corncob LEDs which look just fabulous inside the glass. But alas, the most recent lowering ended all too abrubtly when the rope gave way, shattering the glass. (We had a good exclusion zone so nobody got hurt, and amazingly the LED inside survived unscathed and still works). But now we are one lamp down in our nice Georgian+Victorian+Edwardian interior and are trying to find a replacement. We have all the brass-work, (slightly bent but repairable) so just need the glass (or even one with missing base-plate if that was all that was available.) I can send a picture of the style, and if you have any suggestions on where would be the good places to look, we would be delighted to see what can be done. Thanks

  11. Hi I have 30+ complete holophane endurol, are they something you may be interested in? Thank you

  12. Great info on Holophane lighting. A while back, I purchased two industrial large holophane shades and was fortunate enough to get them with the glass plate cover for the bottom. They also came with fiberglass shades – which I opted not to use. Do you know what decade these are from?


    I’m also currently in the process of restoring a dental lamp from the early 1900s. Mine didn’t come with the original holophane shades but I’ve found 2 shades so far. Currently looking for two more.

    Similar lamp and pulley.

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