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are familiar with Emeralite lamps, those brass-based desk and floor
lamps, named for their bluish-green cased glass shades and often
referred to as bankers lamps. Many others are familiar with
Bellova lamps which were made in innumerable shapes, sizes and colors.
Few collectors, however, realize that the glass shades and bases
used in both Emeralite and Bellova lamps were actually produced
in Czechoslovakia under order from a single American company, H.G.
McFaddin & Co. It is not known where the metal bases were made;
however, is it presumed that they were manufactured in the United
States and married to the Czechoslovakian shades in New York at
the McFaddin factory.
EARLY HISTORY OF THE COMPANY
and Emeralite lamps were the creation of Harrison D. McFaddin. It
was in 1909 that the first Emeralite lamp, as we know it today,
was produced. On May 11, 1909 McFaddin's patent application for
"a new, original and ornamental design for lamp shades," was approved.
Thus began the manufacture of Emeralite and Bellova lamps that were
to continue in production for fifty years.
the Emeralites that are today most easily identifiable, collectible
and with which the name Emeralite is most readily associated, were
simply brass-based or brass-plated desk lamps with green-over-white
cased glass shades. These desk lamp shades are substantially flat
on the sides and the back and gently slope toward the viewer in
the front. However, the shades have no sharp corners; rather, the
angles are all essentially rounded. Using the cased glass technique,
the shades were made of white opal glass on the inside with a layer
of "green" or other colored glass on the outside.
far as we know, all Emeralite shades were produced in the glass
factory of J. Schreiber & Neffen, which plant was located in
the city of Rapotin, Moravia, in what is now the Czech Republic.
Although S&N, as they were referred to by McFaddin, produced
glassware for other customers, their contract with a representative
of H.G. McFaddin & Co. allowed them to produce the green cased
shades only for Emeralite lamps. In turn, McFaddin was required
to purchase a minimum volume of shades each year. In fact, at the
height of production, fully one half of the S&N factory was
devoted to the production of glass shades for H. G. McFaddin.
FOUR PERIODS OF PRODUCTION OF THE EMERALITES
production of Emeralite desk lamps over the years can readily be
divided into four distinct periods. The first period began in 1909
and lasted until 1916 and is known as the "4378 series". These shades
were perforated with two holes, one at each side. It was through
these holes that the shade was attached to the armature of the base
and could be swiveled and then locked into the desired position.
second period of production, known as the "8734 Series", began in
1916 and lasted until the early 1930s. The desk lamps produced
during this period are those most often found and for which the
name Emeralite is most readily identified. Unlike the earlier shades,
the new shades were not perforated with holes. Instead, the bottom
of the shades were indented on the sides and back to fit into the
channel of the newly designed and patented (August 15, 1916) armature.
The armature itself had clamps which needed to be maneuvered into
place in order to keep the shade snug and stable. Since the shade
was merely clamped into the fixture, it could be removed for cleaning
or replacement without disturbing the electric wiring that was concealed,
though easily accessible.
third period of production began in the early 1930s and lasted
probably less than five years. These lamps were generally part of
the No. 9 series. Although the shape of the cased shades and the
production techniques remained substantially the same as the two
previous models, the newer shades increased in size from the older
eight and one-half inch size to ten and twelve inch versions. These
larger shades also required the use of two bulbs rather than just
one. In addition, these shades were now clamped onto the base only
at the back, almost in a clothes-pin fashion. The shade was designed
with an indentation at the back to fit snugly into the clamp. Just
as with the 8734 series, the shade could be removed for cleaning
or replacement without disturbing the base or wiring.
The last period
of the company began in the late 1930s and continued for about
twenty years. The lamps produced during this period hold little
or no interest for the collector of Emeralite and Bellova lamps
and consequently have little intrinsic or monetary value. These
lamps were, to a large extent, fluorescent and almost all were made
with metal shades. The collector, therefore, is interested almost
entirely in the Emeralite and Bellova lamps produced before the
during the first period were usually very simple while becoming
much more decorative during the second and third periods. Earlier
bases were generally brass plated over a base metal if the bases
were square or rectangular, and solid brass if the bases were round.
Bases made during the second and third periods were usually solid
brass. Most lamps had a hidden cast iron weight in the bottom of
the base. Generally, bases during the second and third periods were
sold with a brass finish or a statutory bronze patina, although
special finishes could be furnished to order.
four periods, there were numerous categories of lamp styles, each
category with a number of varieties. Models included lamps for desks,
beds, floors, adding machines, side chairs, draftsman's tables,
typewriter tables and many other uses. Lamps were also available
with optional removable inkwells, pen holders and pens, clocks and
calendars. The inkwells, incidentally, were produced in glass by
The Sengbusch Self Cleaning Inkstand Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
or the GEM company. The inkwells manufactured by GEM were usually
marked EMERALITE on the bottom, along with the GEM name.
It is important
to note that the starting and ending dates of the four periods mentioned
above are only approximate. This is because H. G. McFaddin &
Co. continued to manufacture shades and bases for previous periods
for many years after they introduced the new lines. Hence, in 1940
for example, one could purchase a replacement shade for the 4378,
8734 or No. 9 lamps. Some of my catalogs from the late 1930s
for example, show both the 8734 and No. 9 line lamps as well as
replacement shades for the 4378 lamps, which line was officially
discontinued in 1916.
& Co. introduced its Bellova line in February 1923. Unlike most
of the shades produced for the Emeralite lines, which were smooth
green cased glass, Bellova shades were manufactured in other colors,
as well as green, or with an acid-etched texture, or painted with
an air-brush or reverse painted by hand.
many collectors of Czech glass do not realize, is that a number
of the Bellova shades found today were produced in the standard
Emeralite desk lamp shape and, in fact, will fit the Emeralite 8734
or No. 9 desk lamp bases. It has even been known to find the identical
acid-etched, reverse-painted desk lamp shade signed Emeralite in
one instance and Bellova in another, although the latter is more
likely to be the case with these fancier desk lamp shades. Nevertheless,
Bellova desk lamps are often found in colors other than just the
green that we associate with Emeralites. These colors include russet
brown, Rhodolite (marbleized and opaque), chamois and rose. Frequently,
these desk lamps have a one-inch reverse painted boarder along the
bottom of the shade that reflects a floral or geometric design.
It is not uncommon to find these desk lamp shades on fancier bases
than the usual Emeralite desk lamps. These bases were sometimes
designed and painted to complement the shade.
to the desk lamps, the Bellova lamps that are most familiar to collectors
of Czech glass are those that were made in two parts, entirely of
glass and advertised by the company as Gnome lamps. These lamps
usually had a glass ball-shaped or cylindrical bottom with a mushroom
or "Coolie-hat" type glass top. Sometimes the top portion of the
lamp was cylindrical as well, yet squatter, like the shape of very
thick hockey puck.
generally came in three sizes. The largest, which were about 15"
tall and 14" at their widest point (the Coolie-hat shade),
were referred to just as Gnome lamps in the catalogs. The middle
size, about 9" tall were referred to as Miniature Gnomes, while
the smallest, at about 4" high, were called Petit Gnomes. Gnome
lamps are ususally obverse-painted using air-brushing, sometimes
acid etched, rarely reverse-painted and very occasionally done in
a cameo cut technique similar to Galle. The colors, etching patterns
and designs were numerous. However, most fall into the category
of either floral or "geometric Deco". Some Gnome lamps depicted
children or animals playing or oriental figures which were applied
using "transfers" rather than being hand painted. Still other Gnomes
had glass-applied handles on either side of the bottom part of the
lamp, although this is unusual.
addition to the desk and Gnome lamps, H.G. McFaddin & Co. produced
an extensive line of Bellova lamps that were made exclusively for
unique Bellova metal bases referred to by collectors as boudoir and
table lamps. These lamps were generally smaller in size, although
some larger table lamps have been found. In addition, a limited number
of chandeliers, sconces, tube, and floor lamps were produced.
tube lamps were usually tall and round, similar in shape to the cardboard
inner lining of a paper towel roll. The panel lamps were rectangular
in shape, flat on all six sides and taller than they were wide. Both
the tube and panel lamps were usually cameo cut, although sometimes
found as acid etched. Patterns ranged from delicate pastel florals
to, believe it or not, a stagecoach with horses. All tube and panel
lamps came on a flat or stepped black shiny glass base, either round
for the tube lamps or rectangular for the panel lamps.The
number and variety of Bellova lamps appears endless. Even an experienced
collector regularly uncovers Bellova styles, colors or patterns which
may never have been seen before.
to Emeralite and Bellova lamps, H. G. McFaddin & Co. produced
a line of heat lamps, called Thermolite, to be used for medicinal
purposes and a line of industrial lamps called Mefcolite. Also,
at some time during McFaddin's history, they purchased a company
which produced a line of miniature oil lamps called Glow Night Lamps.
None of these three lines holds any particular interest for Emeralite
and Bellova collectors.
without exception, all Emeralite and Bellova shades were signed.
Emeralite shades were either signed with a silver ink stamp, a rectangular
decal about two inches wide and one-half inch high or a round decal.
shades were always signed, as well. The Bellova signature was almost
always an ink stamp although a round decal is very occasionally
found. The ink stamp is about the size of a dime, usually silver,
although red, white and other colors were also used. The signature
consisted of what appeared to be a four petaled flower in the center
two concentric circles. On the outside top edge of the circles is
the word BELLOVA and on the outside bottom edge of the circles is
the word CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Bellova desk lamps were usually signed
on the inside front or back of the shade, near the bottom rim. However,
many Bellova lamps have been signed in any number of other places.
For example, if the shade is reverse-painted with a floral pattern,
the signature is usually found in the middle of one of the flowers
and is often hard to see. Otherwise, the signature is generally
found around the top outside rim of the shade for the boudoir and
table lamps and on the underside of the top and bottom halves of
the Gnome lamps. Bellova tube and panel lamps are usually signed
near the bottom outside rim of the top half. The bottom half of
the tube and panel lamps, which as described above is generally
black glass, is usually signed on the bottom with a silver ink stamp
with the word ALBINOR. Albinor is the trademarked name that H.G.
McFaddin & Co. used on these black glass bases for the Bellova
should be noted that the methods for signing the lamps described
above are the methods usually found. However, lamps have been discovered
with genuine signatures in other less likely places.
1939, H. G. McFaddin & Co. was purchased by one of its employees,
Charles Inness Brown, when H. D. McFaddin chose to retire. Upon
the companys sale, the name of the firm was changed from H.G.
McFaddin & Co., Inc. to The Emeralite Co., Inc. After the takeover,
the direction of the corporation changed, as described above, from
the collectable Emeralite and Bellova lamps to contemporary models
which, though modern, are today far from memorable.
Inc. started to become unprofitable in the late 1950's. When Inness-Brown
died in 1960, the business was sold again, at which time the company's
name was changed from The Emeralite Co., Inc. to Tilarem, Inc..
Note that Tilarem is Emeralite spelled backwards after dropping
the first and last "e" in Emeralite. In 1962 Tilarem was legally
dissolved. Thus ended the Emeralite and Bellova story.
simplicity and warmness of Emeralite lamps and the beautiful artistry,
colors and designs of Bellova lamps generate an immediate appeal
to all who view them. Today, only a fraction of the large number
of lamps which filled the homes and offices of America remain intact.
Those that remain are taking their rightful place in collectors'
books. Their value, not only as functional accessories, but as pieces
of art, has now been well established. We collectors are delighted
by each new find and are constantly amazed at the variety of patterns,
colors and shapes produced, particularly in the Bellova line. Our
appreciation for their artistic creativity will continue to grow
as each new example is found.