TV Lamps

1950s swan TV lamp. Image from the Johnson Historical Society.
By the 1950s, the new invention of television had transformed the suburban home - the radio was ousted as the centre of home entertainment and the 'box' became the focal point of the living-room, particularly in the evenings. It was an age of energetic consumerism and new products, in modern and streamlined designs, were coming onto the market with increasing frequency. One such product was the 'TV lamp', purpose designed to provide a soft glow in the corner of the room, that would be conducive to television viewing. Whether or not there was really a need for such a thing was largely irrelevant - if there wasn't, the market would create one.

Unusual clock//TV lamp combination. Image from the Canadian Clock Museum.
In cinemas, patrons had become used to watching films in the dark and in the very early days of television, so too did viewers at home; plus darkness intensified the luminous screen and made for a better viewing experience. However, some people became concerned about this and there was talk that watching TV in a dark room could damage eyesight. Thus, the invention of the TV lamp - a shaded, ambient light that sat on top of the TV, creating just the right atmosphere and soothing all worries about watching the flickering box in darkness. It was a fad that lasted for  only a decade or so but during that time produced a plethora of different light designs.

The TV lamps were very often ceramic and lit from behind. Some of the more popular, imaginative themes included animals -(dogs, siamese cats, horses, panthers, ducks), decorative figurines, greek mythology, mermaids, boats, cars or flowers, leaves and trees - there were literally hundreds of different designs as almost everyone who owned a television during the height of the fad, bought a lamp to go on the top. So varied were the designs that it would probably be near impossible to collect one of each. Some of the TV lamps even doubled as pot plant holders or vases. Indeed, many claim the pottery industry was rescued by the TV lamp craze.

1950s designer lights, including TV Lamps. Image by Black-Afro at Flickr
While in the main, the classic 50's TV lamp was ceramic, there were metal ones used as well. The '50s was the atomic age and  many of the general, utilitarian lamp designs reflected  space-age technology and sci-fi themes - they tended to be metal and shiny in flying saucer shapes or conical, like rocket heads. Colours ranged from silver and gold through to rich metallic hues in reds, blues and greens.

1950s Black Lady Lamps