Vintage Stiffel Lamps: Price Guide, Identification & Dating

Do you own an old brass or bronze Stiffel lamp? If yes, unplug it now and take care of it, as it can make you rich! How rich? You may ask. I understand that finding the true value of a vintage Stiffel lamp is a bit tricky if you don’t know its age, marks, style, and type.

So, in this price guide, I will show you how to analyze the real worth of old Stiffel lamps by checking their condition and materials. It will also help you easily date and identify old Stiffel lamps!

Key Takeaways

  • Old Stiffel lamps with their original ‘Stiffel Lamp Company’ or ‘SLC’ logo, patented push-pull switches, and shades have a high brand value.
  • Vintage Stiffel lamps have five different types, of which the torchiere/floor lamps or pole lamps are more precious than others.
  • Antique Stiffel lamps with hand-molded brass, ceramic, or porcelain stems are in demand, fetching more than nickel ones.
  • Besides the universal Stiffel lamps, even those with art-deco, mid-century modern, or Hollywood-regency designs cost up to $2,100.
  • Old lamps with rewired sockets and cords are more valuable than non-working ones.

Brief History of Old Stiffel Lamps

Established by a fine arts practitioner, Ted Stiffel, the Stiffel lamp company has faced a turbulent historical journey since 1932. Let’s see what happened:

  • 1932: Ted Stiffel established the Stiffel Lamp Company in Chicago, Illinois, to produce fancy and affordable table lamps during the Economic Depression.
  • 1940: Ted worked on a simple lamp prototype. Later, he collaborated with the Frederick Cooper Lamp Company and established a factory for more sales.
  • 1945 (World War II Era): The Stiffel Lamp Company switched to a temporary screw machine to produce bolts and other hardware for WW2 ammunition. 
  • 1948-50: Stiffel returned to manufacturing lamps and introduced a new designer – Edwin J. Cole. In 1950, the company introduced the pole lamp, an advanced version of the Stiffel ‘switch’ with a pull-&-push operating mechanism.
  • 1964: Stiffel Company lost its plea against Sears and Roebuck & Company for copying its pole lamp design due to its ‘Public Domain’ patents.
  • The Early 2000s: The company closed down due to a lack of funds. Later, the Salton Lamp company acquired Stiffel’s designs and reintroduced a cheaper version of the popular pole lamp.

Finding the Value of Vintage Stiffel (Full Price Guide)

Vintage Stiffel Lamp

The average value of common Stiffel lamps is around $80 – $400, while rare and old lamps are worth $500 to $2,000 or more. Discontinued lamp models can even fetch up to $5,000 or more. 

Generally, the value of vintage Stiffel lamps depends on their condition, design, age, material, etc. Here’s how you can appraise them based on these factors! 

Analyze the Condition

The first step in a Stiffel lamp appraisal is to ensure the lamp is in good working condition. Look for damage to your old Stiffel lamp shades, poles, wiring, and glasswork.

The amount of damage can depreciate the value. Minor tarnish and scratches are okay, but major dents, cracks, color fading, and inconsistent finish are a big no. Similarly, broken or non-operational lamps aren’t valued much.

Lastly, check if the Stiffel lamp has its original shade, finial, harp, wires, etc. While rewired sockets and cords are acceptable, lamps with replaced parts or restored bodies fetch less returns.

Identify the Type of Vintage Stiffel Lamps

The type of a Stiffel lamp can greatly affect its value. Generally, Stiffel pole lamps are most valuable, while hanging lamps or buffet lamps are worth less. Here are Stiffel lamp values based on the lamp type: 

1. Table Lamp

These are 20 – 30-inch portable lamps with solid metal stems and pleated or parchment shades. Banker’s lamps, buffet lamps, and cottage lamps are all Stiffel table lamp types.

Estimated Value: Rare, designer-made lamps can fetch up to $400 – $600. A large turquoise and brass lamp designed by Edwin Cole sold for $600 on eBay!

2. Torchiere or Floor Lamps

Floor lamps are tall, around 50 – 70 inches, and have textured or pleated shades designed to operate diffused light toward the ceiling. 

Estimated Value: Stiffel floor lamps range from $130 to $500.

3. Tension Pole Lamps

These lamps are fixed light fixtures on a pole extending from the floor to the ceiling. The height of these lamps depends on the height of the room. 

Estimated Value: The Stiffel tension pole lamps can sell for $500 – $2,000. A mid-century style pole lamp designed by Raymond Loewy made $1,200 on eBay.

4. Hanging Lamps

These are decorative glass, bronze, brass, or fabric lamps that hang from the ceiling using metal chains. You’ll also find opaque or opal glass shades and wired bulbs.

Estimated Value: Common Stiffel hanging lamps are valued at around $40 – $300, with high prices for older lamp designs. 

5. Bouillotte Lamps

Stiffel Bouillotte lamps are 20 – 30-inch table lamps with two or more candle arms, a weighted base, and diffusing bulbs.

Estimated Value: The Stiffel Bouillotte lamps sell for around $90 – $400, depending on the size and design. 

Find the Age (Identification Marks and Features)

Vintage Stiffel lamps aren’t valuable and collectible if they are less than 50 years old, which means the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s Stiffel marks are more valuable. So, make sure to find out your lamp’s manufacturing date.

The Stiffel branding marks will help you with this. Authentic Stiffel lamps typically feature a brand mark or label on the lamp’s base, felt covers, shade, or light socket. Sometimes, the marks are etched inside the base. So, you have to unscrew the base to find it.

Stiffel Lamps Brand Mark
The Stiffel Company Brand Mark
Stiffel Lamp Brand Mark

Apart from the brand marks or labels, you may also find a manufacturer’s label or sticker on the underside of vintage Stiffel lamps. This label details the lamp’s origin, production year, model, etc. 

But if there are no marks, you can date and identify the lamp based on materials and designs.

  • 1940s Stiffel Lamps (75 – 85 years): The 1940s lamps are simple prototype stage lamps with geometric designs, rotating fabric shades, solid brass stems, and track lights. These may have an incised ‘Stiffel Lamp Company’ or ‘Stiffel Lamp Co.’ mark on the base.
  • 1950s – 1960s Stiffel Lamps (54 – 74 years): These lamps have a three-way or pole-like shape with hand-sewn or pleated shades, unique push-pull switches, and adjustable diffusers. You’ll find an etched or printed ‘Stiffel’ mark on the lamp’s socket or base.
  • 1970s – 1980s Stiffel Lamps (45 – 55 years): These new lamps had bold and minimal brass or bronze-plated designs with sleek stems, glass accents, and decorative finials. These have ‘SLC,’ ‘Stiffel Lamp Company,’ or ‘Made in USA’ marks on the switch or base.

Two of Stiffel’s patented pole lamp switches (No. 2,793,286 & No. 180,251) faced legal trouble as other lamp companies like Sears and Roebuck & Company copied them.

Check the Lamp Materials

The material of a Stiffel lamp may help you find its production date and correct value. The earliest 1950s Stiffel lamps had hand-molded brass bronze bodies with shiny silk shades, which can hike the value of the lamp today. 

But later, during the mass-production era in the ‘60s, makers moved to machine-molded nickel and porcelain stems with matte linen shades. The newer lamps may also have a polished brass finish on the nickel bodies, which are valued decently.

Here’s a quick charm to understand the importance of Stiffel lamp materials:

Vintage Stiffel Lamp Stem MaterialsEstimated Value (Used)
Brass$100 – $2,000
Bronze$50 – $500
Nickel$60 – $1,200 (Up to $2,500 for brass-plated)
Porcelain or Ceramic$100 – $500 (up to $1,500 for new)

Vintage Stiffel lamps with silver, enamel, gunmetal gray, brushed or polished nickel, bronze, or burnt umber glazes are more precious than galvanized ones.

Check the Styles & Designs

Since most of the old Stiffel lamps were made in America, they adapted to the nation’s regional art movements, giving us different neo-classical & art-deco Stiffel collections.

Old Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Mid-century Modern Stiffel lamp designs with detailed quintessential carvings are worth the most. Here are some more collectible Stiffel lamp styles and their worth today:

Antique Stiffel Lamp StylesAverage Cost
Art Deco & Art Nouveau (Bold & Geometric)$800 – 1,700
Mid-century Modern (Curved & Rounded)$30 – 2,000
Hollywood Regency (Exaggerated & Jewel-toned)$80 – 1,200
Neoclassical (Symmetrical & Geometric)$100 – 900
Traditional (Intricate)$50 – 800

Check the Rarity & Other Plus Points

Generally, if a Stiffel lamp belongs to its special or limited series or collection or is a discontinued model, it can make hefty returns. So, don’t forget to explore online auctions and sales to check the availability and rarity of your Stiffel lamp model.

Here are some other premium features that could make normal, old Stiffel lamps pricey:

  • Textual Stiffel logos or labels and ‘Made in USA’ stamps
  • A silk shantung or beaten brass label with the words ‘Stiffel Lamp Company
  • Unique three-way switches 
  • Brass, bronze, nickel, or ceramic stems & pleated fabric shades
  • Packed & heavy bases for stability
  • Unique light switch with a stem-pull-down mechanism
  • Etched ‘SLC’ mark on the base
  • Decorated lampshade in unique drum, conical, dome, and bell shapes

5 Rare & Expensive Stiffel Lamps Worth Money

Valuable & Rare Stiffel Lamps

As I told you in the beginning, rare or discontinued vintage Stiffel lamps can sell for over $5,000! So, here’s a list of the rarest Stiffel lamps, their unique features, and the latest sale values for your reference:

Most Valuable Stiffel LampsSale Values
Chinoiserie Ceramic & Brass Dragon Lamp Set$7,750
Emerald Statement Lamp Set$4,200
Windows Lamp Set$6,500
Tension Pole Lamp$2,250
Vintage Stiffel Cat Tail Floor Lamp$2,500 – 5,500

1. Chinoiserie Ceramic & Brass Dragon Lamp Set

This is a designer Stiffel brass lamp handcrafted by Edwin Cole with a rare lacquered wood base and sculpted dog heads. A pair of these lamps is available at 1stDibs for $7,750!

2. Stiffel Emerald Statement Lamp Set

This Stiffel emerald green porcelain lamp with a brass finish base and pole oozes a Mid-century Modern touch. This porcelain is difficult to find, which makes this lamp rare. You can get this Stiffel lamp set of 2 for $4,200!

3. Stiffel Windows Lamp Set

This Stiffel table lamp set features walnut wood boxed stems and brass fixtures. The lamps feature light drum-shaped shades and minimal WW2-era designs. This unique Stiffel “Windows” lamp set is sold for $6,500!

4. Stiffel Tension Pole Lamp

This Mid-Century style 1950s Stiffel pole lamp sold for $2,250 on eBay. It features brass metal elements and has five white plate- and bowl-shaped shades with brass accents on a long metal pole. 

Screenshot 2024 06 25 113244
Source: eBay – chami2112

5. Vintage Stiffel Cat Tail Floor Lamp

This unique 1950s torchiere brass lamp has a Finnish style with luxurious glass lighting. You’ll find three brass metal pipes with three sockets attached to a triangular base. This rare lamp is sold for $2,500 – $5,500 on Charish.

Should You Repolish Your Old Stiffel Brass Lamps?

Repolishing any old Stiffel metal lamps might strip the lamps of their original aged patina and marks and devalue them considerably.

Where Can I Buy Antique Stiffel Lamps?

You can buy old & authentic Stiffel lamps from antique flea markets, walk-in stores, or e-commerce sites like eBay, Etsy, 1st Dibs, Charish, and RubyLane.

Are Stiffel Lamps Brass or Brass-Plated?

The early 1950s Stiffel lamps had a pure brass or bronze stem, but the new, post-1960 lamps are brass plated, often with a zinc or nickel core in between.

Despite their troubled legal history, people love antique Stiffel lamps for their original brand marks, patented switches, materials, and colors. Just note all its marks, brand labels, and features correctly, or you might lose money!

If you have an unbranded or local lamp, explore my detailed antique oil lamp and vintage lamp identification guides!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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