The Anglepoise desk lamp is a true British classic.
Any original Anglepoise lamp will carry in its form over 80 years of design and manufacturing history.
This classic line of lamps was Designed by George Carwardine and was first manufactured in Bath England in the early 1930s. The simple idea and highly effective design of the Anglepoise lamp was an instant hit and the Anglepoise company could not meet the early demand for these new desk lamps. A licensing agreement with Herbert Terry & Sons lead to the manufacture of the lamps moving to a larger factory premises in Redditch which was in the heartlands of English industrial manufacturing. Herbert Terry and Anglepoise are phrases that still go hand in hand today when looking at secondhand versions, many early versions are stamped with both company names.
During WW2 Anglepoise produced a range of low voltage navigator lamps for RAF Bombers which are highly prized by
RAF & WW2 enthusiasts the world over.
Anglepoise is a phrase that most people know, they may not know it as a brand name or trademark but the phrase “Anglepoise Desk Lamps” is known to people all over the world and that is a real testament to the brilliant simplicity of the original design concept.
A very early Anglepoise that has design details still used today by Anglepoise UK. Photo by CATMANUM
An Anglepoise lamp has many key details that make the design a timeless classic.
- A heavy and stable base that provides the foundation for the lamp in use and a pivot allowing 360 degree adjustment.
- Flexibility at the shade allowing both vertical and horizontal adjustments.
- A twin arm joint that is firm enough to hold a position and not too tight to stop easy adjustment.
- The famous Anglepoise springs – Three or Four springs that are key to smooth operation and flexibility.
Buying a second hand Anglepoise Lamp.
The second hand market is awash with “Anglepoise” desk lamps.
The first and most important thing to remember is that not everything described as an Anglepoise is an actual Anglepoise is actually a trademark and brand name that is often mistakenly applied to any desk lamp that has springs in its design. Most Vintage Anglepoise lamps will have a mark somewhere that will show the brand name. In the early models the name will be stamped on the base pivot bracket.
Let’s have a look at a secondhand and late Vintage Anglepoise Apex desk lamp and have a look at the areas to watch for when buying second hand, this is a more modern take on the model 90 & 75 lamps that were manufactured in the 1960s and 1970s.
Vintage Anglepoise Apex.
Here are the main areas to pay attention to when buying a second hand Anglepoise lamp.
The base and springs.
Check that there is not too much play between the pivot point and the base, this joint should be free to move but should not wobble, if there is excessive movement check under the base that the original fixing nut is present or for newer lamps check for the Circlip.
Give the springs a quick stretch to check that they have the required strength to move and hold the arms’ in different positions and be careful if the springs are heavily pitted or rusted.
The arm pivot point.
The pivot point on this Apex is made of plastic, these joints are well-made and do a good job but check for cracks or repairs. On older versions check for rubbing on the arms’ paintwork, often when springs had lost tension people over tighten this joint to compensate which leads to rubbing.
Check the lampshade for dents, shallow dents can be quite easily pushed out. Pivot the shade in all directions to check that the pivot points under the shade are not worn.
Check the operation switch at the back of the shade. This Apex version has the classic push button switch, The very early lamps had switched bulb holders at this position. There was a phase in production when Anglepoise experimented with a rocker type on off switch. All of these switches can be replaced.
Check the overall condition of the lamp by extending it to a long reach position, if the lamp holds this position without any signs of drifting backwards then generally this is a sign of a well looked after lamp.
If possible check the lamp for proper operation.
If you are lucky enough to find an early example of an Anglepoise then the chances are that it will not be perfect. Cosmetics are not the most important aspect of an early lamp, in fact many people prefer them with signs of life and battle scars from its history and use.
If you find a Vintage lamp and fancy having a go at restoration then look on line and you will find a few specialist suppliers who sell replacement parts for old Vintage and newer Anglepoise lamps.
As always carefully check the wiring on any second hand lamp and consider having an electrician check it over if you are not confident in doing this part yourself.
Special application Anglepoise Lamps.
Due to the flexibilty and reach of the spring design Anglepoise lamps have been made for special applications.
This wall mounting medical Anglepoise was salvaged from the refurbishment of a Dental surgery.
A desk mounting Medical Anglepoise from a Doctors Surgery.
New Anglepoise Lamps.
The great British name of Anglepoise is still going strong today with a fine range of desk lamps that reproduce the early 1227 model from the 1930s. Anglepoise also manufacture these Iconic desk lamps in different sizes, designs and finishes as well as a range of top quality wall lights and hanging pendants.
If you have a restored Anglepoise I would love to see an image of the lamp 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.