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The History of the Lampshade

Kerry  Voronoff

The first lampshades were used to soften and disperse the light from candles, and later, oil lamps.The predecessors of the lampshade that we are accustomed to today began to appear in the 1600s.

Oil Lamps

This old rusty lantern has a vase-like shade to protect the flame.

In the 19th century, lampshades for oil lamps and gaslights were made primarily of glass. The vase-like shade was fitted above a receptacle fitted with a wick that contained oil.

Victorian Shades

The Victorian lampshade is made primarily of fabric stretched on a wire frame with beading hanging from the bottom of it. The Victorian lampshade emerged in the late 19th century when electricity became common.


Lampshades are used to dull the harsh light of the electric light bulb.

With the increasing availability of electricity in the early 20th century, the popularity of the lampshade grew. Over the years, the lampshade became more and more decorous.

Tiffany Shades

In 1890, Louis Tiffany began the sale of his highly ornate lampshades to the general public. Made of brightly colored glass, the Tiffany lampshade is admired worldwide.


Modern lampshades are made from fabric, plastic, metal and glass. From the modern styles to Tiffany and Victorian reproductions, there are many lampshades of various shapes and sizes available to suit your lighting and decor needs.