Stewart Black of Des Moines, Iowa, was about 12 years old when he started collecting lamps in the late 1970s. It was an odd pastime, considering his age.
“Kids have hobbies,” he explained. “You’re either spearing frogs or hunting lamps.”
At Americana Journal, we vote for the latter.
Black was among the collectors we talked to during the 22nd annual International Antique Lamp Show held at Indianapolis on July 22-23. We found him in the Rare Room, a banquet hall set aside by the National Association of Aladdin Lamp Collectors to showcase some of the scarcest Aladdin material.
Black’s lamps were the talk of the show. To be more exact, the shades on those lamps created the biggest buzz of the event. It might not be the first thing one thinks of at the mention of Americana, but the lamps demonstrate how even factory-made material can have a significant “Wow” factor. In this case, the eyebrow-raisers were pleated paper shades on electric table lamps, including some shades even the experts hadn’t seen before.
For those willing to take on the hunt, great stuff is still out there — whether it’s a 20th-century Aladdin lamp with an undocumented shade or a newly discovered Civil War battle flag. It’s what keeps many of us looking.
And, if nothing else, this hobby of collecting stuff is a whole lot easier on the frogs.