Decorating with Stiffel Lamps

Sally Painter
Stiffel Antique Lamp

Stiffel lamps have a long history and a reputation for being quality designed lamps and highly prized additions to homes throughout America and Canada. The lamps were sold in department stores and specialty shops. You might even have one in your home.

Patented Stiffel Pole Lamp

In 1932, Chicago artist and designer Ted Stiffel founded the Stiffel Lamp Company producing his unique pewter, brass and bronze lamps as well as a few stained glass designs. The trademarks of a Stiffel lamp were superb craftsmanship, attention to detail and stunning finishes.

The most recognizable Stiffel lamp design is the patented Stiffel Pole Lamp, circa 1940s and 1950s. This lamp featured a long vertical pole with rotating lamp fixtures along its length. Sears, Roebuck and Company marketed copies of the lamp and in response, The Stiffel Lamp Company sued for patent infringement, but lost the lawsuit. In 2000, the company was sold to The Salton Lamp Company.

Stiffel Lamps in Decorating

Stiffel Wild Mushroom Lamp

You don't need a retro room decor to take advantage of one of these classic lamp designs. These timeless lighting fixtures will easily fit most design styles. Many Stiffel lamp styles complement a decorative and formal decor. Others blend well with a rustic den decor, yet can just as easily transition into a formal room design.

Stiffel advertised that their lamps were suited for use in family rooms, living rooms, dens and bedrooms. The company viewed their lamps as being functional sculptures. Many were just that with a strong attention to design details.

The art form aspect of a Stiffel lamp is something you can take advantage of in your room design. For example, a Stiffel Table Lamp from the Northbrook Chateau Collection has an overall silver finish. The lamp is a classic design that's elegant with an inverted ridged flute shape and Acanthus motifs. The silver finish is burnished with a bronze effect.

This is truly an elegant lamp that can be highlighted in your living room as a table lamp by using an end table that repeats the Acanthus motifs or use the lamp on a bedside table that also has Acanthus finishing touches. The silver and bronze combo can be used in picture frames as well as art objects throughout your room design. Don't be afraid to use your lamp with various period styles and contemporary furniture settings. The lamps are versatile and truly a prized addition to any home décor.

Where to Find Stiffel Lamps

The Stiffel Lamp company went out of business in 2000, making it very difficult to find new lamps. Salton Inc. acquired the Stiffel trade rights and intellectual property in August 2000 for its Home Decor Group and was to resume production in the fall of that year, but never did.

Dewell & Dewell, Inc.

Stiffel Chateau Milano Lamp from Dewell & Dewell

Dewell & Dewell, Inc. in Batavia, Illinois purchased approximately 300 Stiffel lamps directly from the Stiffel factory when the Chicago plant closed. The lamps were previously on display in the Stiffel dealership showrooms and according to the website are in excellent condition. Dewell & Dewell, Inc. also purchased what they call, "unique lamps that came from their design department." The website gallery of Stiffel lamps is incomplete with only a few lamps inventoried.

The website warns that, "Due to the variety of styles we have not finished cataloging and photographing all the lamps. We will post more lamps as time allows." It is possible that you could contact the company directly if you're seeking a specific style of Stiffel lamp to see if it's available. Otherwise, you may be able to find an authentic Stiffel lamp through a resale or auction site. You may want to set up an alert for whenever a Stiffel lamp becomes available and is advertised on a particular site or via a Google alert.

Lamps USA

Lamps USA carry a wide range of lamp styles that were "Stiffel inspired." These lamps are manufactured by companies such as Kichler, Famous Brand Lamps and other manufacturers. In the Stiffel tradition, the lamps are made of bronze, brass and pewter. Several stained glass styles are also available.

Vintage Stiffel Lamps

Some of the best sites to find authentic Stiffel lamps are eBay or online antique stores such as Ruby Lane. One of the best online resources for buying and restoring Stiffel lamps is Lamp and Shade Outlet. The owner of the company, Jim Hoyle located in Lincolnton, North Carolina, has been in the lighting and home décor business since 1979. Hoyle Fine Lamps began as an antique restoration arm of his home décor stores and three years later Hoyle began designing and making his own lamps and is considered an expert on Stiffel lamps and lamps shades.

Lamp and Shade Outlet has a large selection of vintage Stiffel six way floor lamps . The center bulb has three light settings and the three arm bulbs light in order of left, right, rear, all. The company also carries a large selection of Stiffel silk lamp shades.

How to Identify

The easiest way to identify a Stiffel lamp is by the trademark foil signature on either the lamp base or the lamp shade. Unfortunately, these foil signatures have been known to fall off, making it a challenge to identify genuine Stiffel lamps.

You can try unscrewing the base of the lamp and look inside for a maker's mark that reads "Stiffel Lamp Company" or "SLC." If you can't find any identifying marks or labels, you need to familiarize yourself with the appearance and materials commonly used to make Stiffel lamps.

A lamp buying guide that might help is Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide: Identifying Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Lighting by Nadja Maril.

What's It Worth?

If you have a Stiffel lamp and would like an appraisal, Lamp and Shade Outlet will give you a full professional appraisal which includes background information, history about the lamp and the period it was made. Also included is the full market value as well as maintenance and insurance recommendations. A full appraisal takes four to five weeks. If you'd rather get a value only appraisal, the turnaround time is only one to two days.

Deciding on a Stiffel Lamp Style

Whether you choose a vintage lamp or opt for a "Stiffel inspired" lamp, you can be assured that your lamp will add depth, quality and character to your overall room design. An authentic Stiffel lamp is an investment that will certainly increase in value since there are no more being manufactured. Beyond the collector value of owning a Stiffel lamp and a bit of Americana, the lamp is a true work of craftsmanship and design that you and your family can enjoy for a very long time.

Decorating with Stiffel Lamps