When I first got married and went to work, we saved money to buy our first home. We had just transferred to Ohio after moving from New York to New Mexico and then to California. By then, we were both ready to settle and stop living out of the cars.
We rented a twinplex in the township of Green…a very rural area outside of Akron, Ohio, which now has become the City of Green. I remember when we first moved in that summer, I could not sleep because of the noise of the crickets and frogs and something called tree frogs?? An unknown to me. I was more use to traffic and garbage trucks. Now that noise, I could sleep through. I have acclimated to the country now and don’t think I could sleep through the garbage trucks again.
We lived in Amish country; beautiful handmade furniture could be found just about everywhere and at very economical prices. We found exclusive wood furniture. We found beds, tables, kitchen dining sets, and living room furniture offered by companies that went south to procure name brand upholstered furniture for their warehouses.
These many years later, I still have a few pieces still in my home. One item is a set of Stiffel maroon ceramic and brass table lamps. The twist on-off button is no longer working on one of the lamps. I needed to get a replacement. I ordered a brass socket from Amazon.
You can see the crackling on the brass. I only used Pledge or a damp cotton cloth on this lamp. I never tried to refinish the brass and I love the age-old patina on it.
I am grateful for having these items. Not as a result of any great foresight, but because the pieces were indeed super handcrafted, and I managed to keep a few of them. Who knew I would grow to develop a real fondness for vintage and good antiques. My time in Europe introduced me to homes and people who knew how to value timeless items and who had the style charisma to display them on their modern home.
I went online to try and value my two lamps and found similar lamps: cream, not maroon, on sale from $400 to $1,000 a pair. To me, this demonstrates how quality made furniture or decor items can be an excellent investment.
I did some research on Stiffel and located this information on the Stiffel website:
“The Stiffel Lamp Company was founded in 1932 in Chicago, Illinois, by Ted Stiffel. A talented craftsman, Ted Stiffel had a background in fine arts that gave him a unique ability to design innovative and intelligently crafted lamps, which were also beautiful to behold.
Stiffel’s dedication to excellence established the company as the industry leader in quality.
Proudly all of our products are still made in America at our 40,000 square foot facility in Linden, NJ.”
Backstory to the Stiffel Lamps Story
However, that is not the only story connected to Stiffel. The backstory can be found in this news article. HERE
It seems that Stiffel was very proud of their made in America only status and their special forms for brass and other handmade processes. In 1995, America had changed its values to cheaper, faster, out of country manufacturing and Stiffel began to fail. Labor pay went up, people no longer shopped in high-end department stores and Stiffel tried to make cheaper items to sell at Target but could not continue and went up for sale in 2000.
On February 5, Steven Filler, president of Cutting Edge Industries in New Jersey, and executives at Spectrum Brands (formerly known as Salton, Inc.) inked an agreement to sell the Stiffel® brand to Cutting Edge for an undisclosed sum.
Filler has long been an admirer of Stiffel and had closely followed the sale of the company to Salton and even attended the auction years ago in the hopes of obtaining some original molds (which were ultimately acquired by Salton).
“Stiffel lamps were zinc casting and that’s exactly what we do. Our intent is to revive the brand,” Filler explains. A search for the original molds, which were sent to a Chinese factory when Salton moved production of the Stiffel line overseas, has turned up empty, but Filler is optimistic. He also has at his domestic factory’s disposal some 10,000 to 12,000 molds of classic lamp designs plus operates his own domestic shade shop through the Lite Tops division.
“The timing was right,” says Filler about the purchase, which involved roughly three to four months of negotiation. “American-made products are coming back.” Domestic manufacturer Cutting Edge Industries is uniquely qualified to handle high-quality production of the venerable brand. SEE
Cutting Edge now owns Stiffel.com. See website. The metal products of cutting edge are on the website, as is the catalog for Stiffel lamps. The lamps, however, are purchased at authorized dealers only, such as lampsusa.com. They still sell for around $300 to 1,000. They are still made in the USA.
Three Things to Look for in a Vintage Stiffel
- I found that vintage Stiffel has a serial number and name on the bottom.
- The shade has a little brass tag on the inside of the shade rim.
- The lamp is very heavy.
- Made in Chicago
I was so impressed by my own research- HAHA; that I went to lampsusa.com and ordered a new Stiffel on sale. If you remember, I started to upgrade the lower family rooms and workroom in the condo. My older furniture went downstairs when I redecorated upstairs.
Valuation of Stiffel Lamps
I know spending $250 to $300 for a lamp is a big expense but from my own experience, my laps are over 60 years old and the one just broke this week. I have used these lamps daily for years. And as an added incentive, these are vintage and collectible. Seem to hold their value quite well if the vintage are selling as well on eBay and other sites. As I said, I did find two sets of lamps similar to mine for sale from $500 to $1000.
Lampedusa has a wonderful post on vintage Stiffel Lamps HERE. My lampshade is the original, made from special silk only used by Stiffel. Now I can go to this website and order a replacement shade from Stiffel and a cleaning aid to take care of the shade. so I saved this link to my files.
I’ll show you my new Stiffel when it arrives. I also need a pole lamp or floor lamp. I had a Stiffel floor lamp of my Mom’s but the brass was so tarnished it looked awful. Stiffel had a then patented on one of the features of this lamp. You could turn the floor lamp only by pulling the pole down to turn it on and off. Great like magic to a young kid. they lost that patent and now most pole lamps have that feature. The website says you can remedy that by having Stiffel re-electroplate the brass. I did not know that and I threw it out. Hopefully, a knowledge person got it and either fixed it or got a good price for it!!
Armed with all this new information, I will see how I find the new Stiffel lamp, but I will definitely be on the lookout for Vintage Stiffel lamps: those made in Chicago. Looking forward to the garage sale season!
How about you? Does anyone have a Stiffel lamp? Please send me a comment.
Take good care