Fairy Lamps of Samuel Clarke
As illustrated in various advertisements and catalogs.
1887 - 1891.

Clarke 000Blue.jpg (76079 bytes)

A.D. 1857, September 29. - No 2505

CLARKE, Samuel. - Improvements in apparatus for burning "night lights and mortars."  A tray with raised sides and a handle is made of such size as to conveniently admit into the middle of it a small dish containing water.  A night light encased in paper or other material is placed in the dish.  The sides serve as a gallery for a glass chimney which is cylindrical and "made with a comparatively small hole at the domed top."  In the sides "and within the glass" are numerous small air holes.

If the night light is made without a cover, the dish is dispensed with, and a glass for the reception of the night light is placed in the middle of the tray.

Samuel Clarke's patent application for his first night light hand lamp.  A modest beginning to what was to be known as a "fairy lamp," some thirty years later.

Generally speaking, fairy lamps are candle-burning lights. They are both functional, providing a little light to dark areas, and highly decorative. They come in seemingly endless designs and are made from a broad range of art glass materials including Burmese, satin glass, Peachblow, Verre moiré (Nailsea-type) as well as crystal, Lithophanes and cameo designs. Their popularity peaked during the Victorian era and continues today among avid collectors. Best known of this period were the fairy lamps marketed by Samuel Clarke. Clarke was a candle maker by trade but patented the holders for his candles. He granted licenses to many other glass and porcelain manufacturers in the UK, Europe, and the United States to make the lamp parts and art glass shades for his company and other licensed distributors. Clarke's patented lamps came in three sizes (fairy, pyramid and wee) each with at least a dome and a clear or matching lamp cup. The clear cups often were embossed with Clarke’s trademark and logo – a fairy holding a wand.  Samuel Clarke was a marketing genius and protected his patents fiercely. However, many companies produced similar "fairy lamps" with clever designs to avoid infringing on his patents.

Fairy lamps also came on elaborate stands, pottery bases, wall plaques, chandeliers and epergnes, often with nosegay type flower holders. In the late 1890’s Clarke patented the "Cricklite" style of candle lamp with clear domes to go with changing decorator tastes and to compete with more modern types of lighting. Silk shades were often added to domes to enhance the decorative effect. Cricklites were often used in formal dinner settings and provided ample candle lighting to enhance a formal or festive occasion. Clarke Candle Company was sold to Price Candle Company in 1910.

Other glass and candle companies in Europe and America made fairy lamps in similar as well as other styles during this same period and some continue to make these lamps today.

We are fortunate that Samuel Clarke believed that advertising was the key to his success.  Many of his fairy lamps were illustrated in his catalogs and also were advertised in well known British publications such as the Illustrated London News, Pottery Gazette, The Graphic, The Queen, and others.  Many of these advertisements were in color -  an expensive endeavor in the late 1800's.  But, Clarke knew the value and importance of advertising and spared no expense.

Many of Clarke's advertisements have survived for over 100 years and have found their way into the hands of avid fairy lamp collectors.  In addition, several of Clarke's original fairy lamp catalogs have been reproduced by well known collectors and authors such as Dorothy Tibbetts and T. Robert Anthony.  It is these sources that have made this website possible. 

For convenience and to reduce the "download" time of these photo intense web pages, I have divided the collection in to manageable blocks.  Each block includes a range of Clarke's fairy lamp model numbers.  However, some blocks will include more than others due to the availability of information.  Just click of one of the blue underlined links to bring up that block of information.  Those blocks shown in grey are underdevelopment.

So, enough explanation.   Enjoy your visit.  Jim.

Fairy Lamps of Samuel Clarke


000 - 050 051 - 100 101 - 150 151- 200 201 - 250
251 - 300 301 - 350 501 - Misc Shades Cricklites

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