Saturday, October 08, 2011

A light is just a light... ...or is it?

So I am trolling Craigslist the other day and knowing that I am taking on my plastering project and that I will need a new living room light, I was searching for antique fixtures.  I knew what I wanted: a Classical Revival style fixture to go with some of the transitional detailing in the house yet a globe simple enough to seem almost as if it were in the Arts & Crafts style.  To my surprise, I come across the above pic.

Now, I like old houses and taking on big projects but any projects with any level of intricacy are my Achilles' heal.  Since the price wasn't so high, I figured, "what the heck", and against my better judgement, I contacted the seller and drove a couple towns over and purchased it. 
I started by taking it apart and trying to clean it as best I could.  It did not come as clean as I wanted but I figure, I could live with it.  I hoped to learn more about the manufacturer so I began a Google Patent search looking for the fixture.  I had no luck but found a lot of other cool stuff.  So I went back to cleaning.   
After careful examination of one of the parts, I found a patent number and date.  The number didn't help at all with finding the item but the date worked wonders.  To my surprise, a patent was taken by H. A. Framburg in 1917 for an electric light fixture.  It is certainly not the item I purchased but I am sure they used this particular hook piece on several items.  What is coolest is that the hole that is in the middle of the anthemion form should have held another arm to a light globe that extended from the main light bowl.  I bet it was pretty cool. 

What is more interestingng is that I recognized the company name immediately.  Framburg is still around and the company has an interesting history. 

As I mentioned, I cleaned the item up a little but not as much as I had hoped.  I have been going back and forth in my mind to either abandon this project or embrace it and live with a VERY antique-looking fixture.  I decided to hang the bowl from the hooks and see what it looked like. 
I actually don't mind the mottled finish and think that it can still look good.  Except for one problem: I just realized that almost all of the hooks I have are broken.  There is a spring on each on that is supposed to clasp around the rim of the bowl and hold it into place.  Without the spring, the bowl easily falls off. 
So now I am at another impasse: try and learn how to manufacture my7 own springs or give up.  If anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.  Part of me wants to contact Framburg and see if they can help.  I bet they'd laugh at me.   I guess I need to sleep on it.
By the way, if you are the tinkering type and get into a project like this, a patent search is a pretty great thing.  I discovered all sorts of cool lights while doing this.  Below is a design for a light fob.  This would have been a decorative piece that would attach to receptor holes on the globe/bowl hook.  It might have come in handy for people that purchased this original Framburg fixture but didn't want the side arms. 
The multi-light notion seemed very popular: a bowl light to provide ambient lighting and then single bulbs pointing down within shades to provide task or directional lighting. 
Finally, my favorite: a light with an integral planter in the bowl.  I would love to see one of these in action.  If anyone ever finds a picture, please let me know.


StuccoHouse said...

Love the light! I've had very good luck with very fine steel wool on old metal. Also a coat of 3 in 1 oil on old finishes does a lot. I suspect with a little oil, your finish will look a lot like the mottled brass finish I paid extra for from Rejuv. ;) I'd definitely email the company. If they can't help, is there a reason why the bowl needs to be removable? Could you dispense with the springs and attach it permanently somehow?

Chris said...

Great (or warped) minds think alike. I was actually trying to figure how I might add a clip to the current hanger to get it to lock into position permanently and I woudn't have to worry about the spring. I haven't figured that out though either - it is just such an odd shape and there is really nothing to attach things to. I think I'll eventually figure it out though.