Buying Vintage and Antique Glass Ceiling Light Shades

Buying Vintage and Antique Glass Ceiling Light Shades

Buying a Vintage or Antique glass ceiling light shade.

When renovating your home or a single room in a Vintage or Antique style your choice of ceiling light fixture can make all the difference and can often be the final piece that really helps achieve the look you are after.

Vintage glass ceiling lights and Antique ceiling lights with glass shades can make all the difference to any style of decoration you are trying to achieve.

There are of course some excellent new and modern reproductions on today’s market but nothing quite nails the look and appearance of an original Vintage or beautiful Antique glass ceiling light shade.

When you venture into a high street or DIY superstore and look at ceiling lighting you will probably be disappointed with the choice on offer, quite often these large outlets all offer the same modern look and very few have anything that remotely resembles an Antique design.

Antique shops, Flea markets, Car Boot Sales and of course On-Line are all great places to search for the ceiling light that will finish your project.

If you are looking for an original piece of lighting to finish off your new space then you are embarking on what should be an enjoyable and fun journey; the time and effort you put into this search will pay dividends in your final completed space. It may sound a bit too much like extra trouble and a bit of unnecessary hard work but it is always worth spending time to find what is often the most important piece in your new interior design scheme.

Whatever look or design era you are trying to achieve there are a number of areas to look at when buying a Vintage or Antique Glass ceiling light shade – Lets have a look at some of the things to look for when considering Antique and Vintage glass ceiling lights.

Glass Condition.

It may seem obvious but the condition of the glass is paramount. If you are in an Antique shop and the ceiling lights are displayed at a height ask for them to be taken down to you can have a close up look and a feel. Most reputable on line dealers will be very up front with any damage or issues that a glass shade has. The golden rule is “if in doubt ask”.

Many Antique and Vintage glass ceiling lights will have small and unnoticeable damage to the rims and fitting holes. These are often called slithers or flea bites, these small marks to the fitting holes and gallery rims do not matter as they will be hidden once the light is in use, small marks to the floor side exposed rim will not notice when the ceiling light is hung and in use; Never reject a lovely old glass shade because of small marks as these will be forgotten once your new light is hung and in use.

Galleries and Fittings.

If your potential new light has a fitting or gallery then its always worth checking these over, if the light you are considering has a fitting then ask the dealer if it is original or a more modern replacement, the original Vintage/Antique fittings found on older glass lampshades really make a big difference in overall look of a ceiling light as theses old fittings have look that is very difficult to reproduce. Check old fittings for splits and any serious damage, again small damage and marks maybe worth putting up with when you consider the overall look of the light when it is hung and in use. If you find a glass ceiling light that fits your needs but that has a poor fitting it is not the end of the world as there are many on line suppliers of replacement fittings and parts for Antique and Vintage lighting.


The wiring on Vintage and Antique ceiling lights is usually straightforward, if you find an Antique light that you love but are unsure about the wiring then a small investment will be money well spent on having an electrician check it over and if necessary running a piece of new cable and fitting a new bulb holder.

The all important Lighting Effect.

As you search for a Vintage or Antique glass ceiling light you will come across a wide range of shapes colours and profiles. Some older glass lights look great unlit and will have colours and designs which make them a feature when not lit and not in use.

You also come across some Vintage glass lampshades that look fairly plain when not in use but spring into life when hung and lit up. So it is important when you are viewing a Vintage glass ceiling light try to imagine what effect the shade will provide when illuminated, most good Antique shops will have a way of showing you a glass shade lit up and many on-line dealers will also have images older lights in use.

Consider the difference between lit and unlit shades in the following examples.

Vintage Glass Ceiling LightA Large Vintage Glass Pendant from the 1970s – Unlit this large light makes its presence felt.

Vintage Glass Ceiling LightWhen Illuminated the moulding and features of this Vintage light really shine.





Antique Blown Glass LightingAn Antique caged Blown Glass Ceiling light which has an interesting profile.

Antique Blown Glass LightingIlluminated the same shade comes to life revealing textures, patterns and Iron work detailing.




This is a very large early 20th Century ceiling light with its original cast Brass gallery. Unlit the light has great presence due to its size but is quite plain and simple.

Once lit this beautiful Antique opal glass shade really comes to life, using just a single bulb the old glass provides an even and soft illumination and brings the etched pale pink decorations into view.




Another early 20th century ceiling light. A classic Flame/Torch shade from the Art Deco period an Icon of the era. Made from moulded frosted glass with a gallery fitting rim.

When properly lit the Flame shaped light shows texture and shape.




This is an Antique ceiling light that looks great when unlit and in use. An early French 3 tier crystal droplet chandelier with an ornate top ring. A great Antique look.

In use the droplets shine and the Chandelier provides an excellent lighting effect, this light had a number of chips to the individual crystal droplets but this damage in unseen in use and is quickly forgotten when the light shines.



A Late 1950s to early 1960s “Atomic” era glass ceiling light. It has an iconic central pattern set on white stippled glass but is predominately White.

Once hung and in use the profile and different textures on this old glass classic become clear and provide an interesting, varied and highly stylised focal point.



A Retro 1970s Italian Ceiling pendant with Opaline stripes in the luster glass shade. A Good looking Vintage light.

In use this Italian classic shows its true colours and brilliant design by producing a fantastic lighting effect.



A late Vintage Crackle Glass ceiling light with an Antique style glass shade. It looks nice and is of good quality but at first glance it has nothing of the “Wow” factor.

Once lit the design and texture of the glass produces a highly reflective shadowing display.



Conclusion – Things to remember when buying an Antique or Vintage Glass Ceiling Light.


  • Check for major glass damage, small chips and nibbles to the fitting holes and rims will not notice in use and will not spoil the look of the light once hung and is use.
  • Galleries and fittings – Check for damage that makes them unusable, again small areas of age related tarnish and wear will not notice in use.
  • Wiring. Bear in mind this may need updating.
  • Lighting effect – Consider the lighting effect the glass will provide, it may appear plain but give thought to it in use.
  • Bulb Choice – When you have purchased a light then experiment with different bulb strengths as over or under illuminating an old glass ceiling light will not bring out the best that the glass has to offer.

I hope that you have found this information useful.

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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