Archive for chandeliers

Brass Chandeliers

Posted in Antiques, Tracking the Marvelous with tags , , , on May 20, 2009 by dutchnduchess

If you’ve ever looked inside one of the many cathedrals in Europe or noticed classical paintings of European interiors, (i.e. Vermeer), you’ve seen prime examples of item number 6 on our Top Ten List of Antiques to Buy in Belgium.– the  Brass Chandeier.  It is characterized by a middle baluster shaped support, (not unlike the wooden decorative shape in a stair railing) and radiating arms that scroll into elegant S-shaped extentions with candleholders  accompanied by a drip saucer.  The range in height can be from 1, 2 or 3 tiers and in diameter from 4 up to 24 arms.  Similar style and quality sconces or ‘appliques’  have three arms and look marvelous below a small to medium mirror

First, the weight of an older one is a fast way to note its quality and age, as modern copies are mostly hollow and tinny in comparison. You might be saddened by a second obvious sign, a possible energy conversion to either gas or electricity giving way to uncharacteristic drilled holes and/or encased wiring. The best examples will be without electricity but if conversion is done and is desired, check that it might need rewiring either for reasons of safety or international currency if relocating. In this case the price should reflect a ‘not-in-original-state reduction and if it is in original state, consider yourself a super sleuth and very, very lucky. If funds allow this is truly a no brainer, and you’ll just have to accept that everyone will want to have all future Christmas dinner and special entertainment at your place.The ambience of a beautifully lit chandelier with its Vermeer reflections is truly priceless.

Age & Patina
The age of a brass chandelier (unlike the glass one) can be determined by how shiny or dull the surface brass appears ( sans dust and grime) and its speed of tarnishing to a warm patina after polishing. The older, the shinier might be a rule of thumb if quantum leaps came with the dealers package, so then you can revert to Plan B and indoctrinate your expert eye. Look to see if the arms are ‘pinned’ into the (shiny, solid) central support (16 c), afixed with screw threads or bolted (mid-to end 19 c).

Hanging and Support
As with all lighting with a drop feature or cascade of tiers, brass chandeliers should be measured for placement, adequate ceiling height, tall heads in the family will not enjoy close encounters of this gorgeous albeit robust handbanger. Make sure the support for this beautiful albeit possible headbanger is sufficient. The length of its drop can easily be adjusted with matching brass chain or a non-matching one, covered in velvet, silk or linen as appropriate to the decor. it might be good to mention that there are matching accessory sconces or ‘appliques’ [French] possible to compliment the room as well. Dealers and collectors love this chandelier for the ease of shipping and moving it from one place to another. Oversized shipments are usually priced by volume so being able to stack the arms makes transport easy as well as economical. Antiques do not have taxes levied or incur custom charges so make sure you get a certificate with your purchase.

Polishing once a year is adequate for brass chandeliers as part of the fun is letting the brass repatinate and show its continued abilty grace the most elegant of occasions. The ease of cleaning, is in tandem with the ease of dismantling the arms, so the pinned model wins. Just remove the pins, polish and re-pin, never having to remove the full weight of the chandelier. For the others, there is basically the same maneuver, but more time consumption can be expected due to the slower dismantling or inability to dismantle the arms separately. Still, besides its aesthetic beauty, the practicality of being able to remove candle wax without climbing a ladder, is a redeeming quality soon forgotten. The unsurpassed warmth and romantic atmosphere generated in any weather condition by this king of lighting fixtures adds a marvelous touch of European craftsmanship and history to any occasions. Whether placed over a refectory table, high ceiling foyer or conservatory with pool in view, it turns into a showpiece chameleon in a range of rustic and formal decors.


Lusters (Glass Chandeliers)

Posted in Antiques, Tracking the Marvelous with tags , , on May 20, 2009 by dutchnduchess

What dining room table could not benefit from an elegantly appointed antique  hanging chandeliers ? I personally like to see them in arched doorways and entrances where the multi-tiered ones make a grand first impression of which any collector can be proud.

A search for one of these will soon reveal that although they may all seem alike at first glance, but a few questions may rise: How do you tell the older ones from the more modern ones? How many tiers will look best? How many lights are on each tier and can you get bulbs for the fittings in most countries?

Detecting age
Older lusters , at least pre-WWII, are more delicately scrolled and the armature is less robust. The later armatures are ‘outlined’ in glass, concealing the metal and giving an appearance of more bulk-indeed they do weigh more. The metal in the earlier version is visible and the type of metal used is strong and heavy though delicate in design. Lusters from this time will have a more basic ‘feel’ and patina. All of the teardrops will be glass as opposed to crystal.

Some of these chandeliers suspend more teardrops than others, and taste varies individually. When making a purchasing decision, an important consideration is the intended placement vs the hang depth and ceiling height. A general rule for price is the more tiers/the bigger the circumference, the higher the cost.

Care and Maintenance
Maintaining the luster is easy. If needed it can be rewired for different currency and cleaning is done by spraying with cleaning solution only periodically. The light fittings are normal size and one can fit them with candle flame type bulbs that have a twisted texture and pointed end, or bulbs with long narrow shape without the twisted texture. In all cases, the crowning touch is installation of a dimmer switch to capitalize on any moment that deserves a special atmosphere and great memory of your time in Belgium and the thrill of the hunt. [See also Brass Chandelier]