Antique Table Identification Guide

Antique Tables Worth

Historical Furniture / December 30, 2021

The original shade, especially if it's glass, adds to the value of your antique lamp.The original shade, especially if it's glass, adds to the value of your antique lamp.

An antique table lamp may carry significant value if it is rare or made by a sought-after designer. On the other hand, just because a lamp is old or even rare doesn't mean it is valuable - if it is in poor condition, not functioning properly or not of good quality, it may only be worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Studying the lamp carefully to learn as much about the piece as possible will help you determine its value.

Flip the lamp on its side to examine the bottom. Look for a sticker, a nameplate or a stamp bearing a maker's mark. Use a magnifying glass if you notice a stamp but can't read it well. If the bottom of the base is covered with felt, lift the felt gently to look for signs of the lamp's maker.

Study other areas of the lamp if no maker's mark is on the base. Some manufacturers, for instance, placed a metal nameplate on the socket. If the lamp is dusty, rub it gently with a dry dust cloth to clean it up a bit while you search for a maker's name.

Examine the cord and plug carefully to determine whether the lamp appears safe to plug into an outlet. If so, insert a light bulb in the socket and plug the light in to test the lamp. If the cord appears frayed or wires are sticking out from the cord or plug end, do not plug it in. Note whether the cord and plug look old - many old cords are covered in cloth, and the end of the plug is open with screws showing, rather than sealed during manufacture. This is especially true of lamps from the first half of the 1900s. If the cord does not look old, someone may have replaced the original.

Examine the lamp closely for signs of damage, such as cracks and dents, or crazing if the lamp is made of ceramic material. Look for signs of repair or repainting; these may negatively affect the lamp's value.

Examine the lampshade, if intact, to determine if it is damaged. This is important especially on lamps with glass shades or painted glass shades, because the elegance of the glass gives the lamp a good deal of its value.

Compare the information you've found about your lamp, such as the maker, type of lamp and its condition, with collector sites online. Note that collector prices may be inflated, but they will give you a general idea of the high end of your lamp's value.

Things You Will Need

  • Magnifying glass
  • Dust cloth
  • Lightbulb


  • Replacing the cord on a lamp is often a simple task with a lighting kit, but it may affect the value of your lamp if all pieces are not original.
  • Stained glass or reverse-painted glass lampshades have been collected for decades. Many were made to replicate the looks created by famous designers, much the way designer clothing and accessories today are copied by less pricey brands. If you aren't sure who made your lamp and it looks like a well-made piece, ask a local antique appraiser to tell you more about it and determine its value.