The Right Shade for the Lamp

It is no secret that I love vintage Art Deco lamps. And over the 2017 Holiday season with time off from work Chris and I hit the local antique and thrift stores. We did have some luck in finding a “treasure” at a bargain price.


Greenovation, Rochester, NY

Greenovation on East Main Street, Rochester, NY. Image from Facebook.

Our first stop was Greenovation on East Main Street in Rochester, NY. Located in the former Vietnam Veterans Thrift Store, Greenovation is a combination thrift / antique store. While Chris and I have not have the same consistent luck at Greenovation as we did with the former occupants, we still get an excellent find now and then. This time Chris spotted a great Art Deco / Machine Age table lamp in need of some TLC. I have to admit that when Chris showed me this lamp, I was not enthusiastic about at all. The chrome looked pitted and stained and the black cast iron base was rusting.


Chrome and cast iron machine age lamp from the 1930's.

Chris taking the lamp to get rewired at Top of the Lamp in Victor, NY.

There were cobwebs on the underside of the base and in the light socket. We knew if we bought the lamp it would need rewiring, the rubber power cord was crumbling and the plug had melted. Now the moment of truth, how much? Because it was the Thanksgiving weekend Greenovation was having a “black Friday” sale and everything was 75% off. The lamp had a price of $30.00, but with the discount it came to $7.50! No matter what I thought of the lamp originally, at that price I wouldn’t have left the store without it.

After getting the lamp home, Chris started to clean it up. To his surprise, what we thought was pitting and rust was just dirt and tar stains from heavy smoking. The lamp started to come back to life. A little Turtle Wax on the base helped to bring back some of the original crackle paint finish. Now time for rewiring. In the nearby town of Victor, New York is The Top of the Lamp, not only a great place for lamps and lampshades, but also a great lamp repair shop.

Because the lamp is large, we had a three-way socket installed. I have no way of knowing if this was true of the original socket, but I assume it did. With the lamp repaired now it needed a shade that would be period appropriate.


Detail of the socket on the moderne lamp.

Moderne lamp socket detail.


Created in the mid-1900’s the Illuminating Engineering Society (I.E.S.) studied the relation between illumination and good eye sight. The I.E.S. designed lamps in the 1930’s that gave glare free light for reading as well as providing general room illumination. To do this a glass diffuser is the solution that I.E.S. came up with. These diffusers softened the glare of the light downward, while sending light up toward the ceiling to illuminate the room indirectly.


I.E.S. ad from 1935 in the Toronto Globe.

December 20, 1935 I.E.S. advertisement, Toronto Globe. Image from Proquest Historical Newspapers.


So now we needed to find a milk glass (called opal in the 1930’s) diffuser. Chris lucked out and found one for $5.00 at a small antique store near Clinton, New Jersey.


Milk glass diffuser.

Waffle pattern milk glass diffuser. Image from

But never use these diffusers for shades. I’ve seen them used for shades in period films, all I can say about that is . . . WRONG!!!!


The Aviator, 2004

The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, US 2004) Starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Set decoration by Francesca Lo Schiavo who wasn’t aware that diffusers need lampshades. Image from the DVD.

Finding a period 1930’s lampshade is almost like seeing a unicorn or big foot. On the whole they just haven’t survived. Dark Drum shades were popular in the 1930’s, usually with contrasting stripes. Today it is easier and cheaper to get a solid color shade than have one custom-made with stripes. So a simple black drum shade was our choice, since it would only send the light up and down, not out.



So if you have an Art Deco lamp in need of a shade,  remember diffusers are not shades. Try to be sensitive to the lamp’s time period. And simple is always better.


Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, ‘Tiquen Guys)

Reference Library Update – Examples of Modern Furniture by DIM

The latest update to the Reference Library is a short, three page article on Modern Furniture. To Read the article click on the cover below.

Also included are two advertisements from the magazine.

Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, ‘Tiquen Guys)

I’m “puzzled” how you can be “board”

The 1920’s and 1930’s were a time of change for this country. Movies gave people, young and old,  the sight and sound experience. However, with the economy in flux, movies were a luxury for many just getting by. Instead, family and friends spent time at home listening to big bands on the gramophone, serial soap operas, news and radio plays on the radio and in – wait for it – conversation. Conversation didn’t just happen around the radio.

Movies were great but talking and gossiping during them made you very unpopular.

A new, inexpensive craze was sweeping the nation.  Jigsaw puzzles and board games could be enjoyed by all. And when completed, you could trade the puzzles with your neighbors.

From “The Jig is Up” (via

Anne Williams tells us in Jigsaw Puzzles: An Illustrated History and Price Guide that a map maker in England cut up a map and sold it as a game in the late eighteenth century, thus producing the first jigsaw puzzle. Chris McCann wrote the history of the Great Jigsaw Puzzle Panic of 1932-1933 which traces the popularity of this hobby in the Northeast United States. In September of 1932 Viking Manufacturing Company of Boston produced 12,000 puzzles which sold out instantly. In December they sold 200,000. In January one half million puzzles sold at newsstands for twenty-five cents each. Puzzle factories sprang up to compete, adding extra shifts to meet the new demand. Six million puzzles were sold at peak. This craze quieted in March of 1933 when FDR closed the banks for two weeks and people were forced to buy only vital necessities. Today there are an estimated ten million puzzles sold each year.

Early jigsaw puzzles did not have true interlocking pieces and sometimes, no picture to guide you! They covered a variety of subjects including storybook characters, historical scenes, fantasy bucolic visions of homes and gardens .

They brought far-off lands into the home as well as historical scenes used for educational purposes.

 As a collectible, vintage jigsaw puzzles are available from $8 to over $100 depending on condition and rarity.

As for board games, Senet, is the earliest known game, created in Egypt, and pictured in a burial fresco from 3300–2700 BC.

Backgammon originated in ancient Persia over is over 5,000 years old.

Flash forward a few millennia and England produced the greyhound racing game. In this game greyhounds race around a track chasing a hare. Two different sized dice are used and the smaller one represents the hare. The players moves their dog in turn, but the hare moves at each throw of the dice.

Two popular games in the 1920’s were American Mahjong, and Billy Whiskers, a loose forerunner of the game Sorry! (1934)

Introduced in 1925, Marseillais Chess is a variant of Chess.  It reached its popularity in the late 1930’s with its final game play rules established  in 1963! In essence, the game played as regular chess but with each opponent taking 2 turns each round. A rule established in 1963 was an exception to game play to avoid an unfair advantage to the white player.

Pegity, also introduced in 1925, is a version or tic-tac-toe for 2-4 players. The goal is to get four of your game pieces in a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

The 1930’s saw  Scrabble, Monopoly, Sorry!, The Game of Life, Chutes and Ladders introduced. These games resonated with the public as shown by their continuing popularity.

As board games grew in popularity, Hollywood wanted a part of the action releasing MOVIE MILLIONS, the Glamorous Board Game, a 1930’s studio tie-in.

Vintage board games are a bit more expensive to collect than jigsaw puzzles,  Starting at $15, board games can top several hundreds of dollars.   Vintage Mahjong sets are among the most costly.

Unfortunately, a host of horribly offensive board games based on negative stereotype of Americans of African descent proliferated at this time. Names so offensive I decline to list them.

So the next time your device fails, the power goes out, or your kids say “there’s nothing to do”, break out a puzzle or board game and dabble in some one-on-one conversation the deco way.


Chris & Anthony (The Freakin’ ‘tiquen Guys)

Reference Library Update – Twentieth Century-Fox

December, 1935 Fortune.

Fortune Magazine, December, 1935.

Driving For Deco’s last reference article update looks into the newly created Hollywood studio, Twentieth Century-Fox. The studio was a merger of the Fox Film Corporation of 1915 which was struggling through the 1930’s and highly successful independent production company, 20th Century Pictures. Darryl F. Zanuck (1902 – 1979), production head, made the studio one of the most successful in the American film industry. To read the article click on the cover above.

Anthony & Chris (The Freakin’, ‘Tiquen Guys)