About ten years ago, I was watching the Antiques Roadshow and saw a piece on Pairpoint lamps. We had a similar lamp sitting in my daughter’s bedroom that had been inherited from my mother-in-law. It had been bought sometime in the 1930’s probably in a good store in Toronto. Nobody in our family, including my late father-in-law who was a silver buyer, had any idea of the present value of this item. We certainly weren’t taking any precautions to be careful with it. I even tried to clean the base with brass cleaner at one point.
The Pairpoint Manufacturing Co. produced lamps from the 1880’s to the 1930’s. The shades were hand painted on bases that were silverplate, brass and bronze. The “puffy”shade which is its most popular style was free-form, frosted glass and painted on the inside with flowers, butterflies and leaves. The paint was fired and is very durable; it will not scrape off easily. When the lamp is turned on the effect is quite pretty, a muted colourful glow. The lamp in the picture above has a tree-shaped base which is also highly-prized. There is a Pinterest page devoted to Pairpoint lamps which you can see here. Pairpoints generally have a P enclosed in a diamond shape at the bottom.
Our lamp is identical to the one above. It is a lilac puffy and was in excellent condition with very little crazing on the outside glass. We had always thought it was attractive but that it was some type of imitation Tiffany lamp, with no particular value until I saw the TV show. Then I started researching it and I must have hit the high point of collectors who were buying these lamps. Around the time we sold it, prices peaked and one went for $45,000 at an auction. Since then, the market has cooled and prices have come down.
There is a bit of irony in this story. My mother-in-law had lovely things that she had inherited e.g. antique furniture, sterling silver, Crown Derby china etc. But although those items have some value, this funny little lamp was the only thing that was a genuine collector’s item.