One of the most mis-described lamps is the Banquet Lamp. Although it is difficult to set absolute parametres as to what is and is not a Banquet Lamp, like many things in life, many want to be the best, and many hope that what they have is the best. In the Miller family of lamps beyond the table lamp there are Column Lamps, Vase Lamps and finally Banquet Lamps, of which Figural Lamps are a part.
The true Banquet Lamp was a display of absolute decadence. Certainly some Column and Vase lamps are so decorative that they could almost be Banquet Lamps and some argue that they are. Column Lamps certainly are not banquet lamps as the true column lamp does not have a removable font but is the vase lamp? It does have many of the features of a banquet lamp. In my opinion what vase lamps do not have is a stem thus they are in their own category.
All true banquet lamps have removeable founts, brass (plain or embossed), cast spelter or painted milkglass vases, decorative stems and generally have a painted globe shade - but not always. Remember that originally customers were able to purchase their lamps from 'factory outlets' to their personal choise and were able to have them built on the spot to their individual liking with only the cost being a limiting factor. Vases, stems, bases, fount, burners - all interchangeable thus making the range endless so a 10" dome shade on a banquet lamp is possible. And not all Banquet Lamps are large, as shown by the very rare 'Tiny' Banquet lamp below.
The Banquet Lamp c. 1893
The Vase and base are cast from ‘spelter’, a pot alloy which was easy to work with and allowed for fine casting of which this lamp is an outstanding example.
The column is of brass with a marble or onyx ‘ball’ for decoration. This lamp displays the A1 quality removable central draft font, original hand painted ‘globe’ shade with the very scarce and elaborate No. 2 ‘rosette’ burner. This lamp was designed purely for appearance, with function being only a minor consideration.
A lamp only found in most wealthy Victorian households. Such lamps held price of place in the parlours, ball-room or main hall of the Victorian Mansion and today are very scarce.
Height of lamp photographed (to top of burner) 23 3/8"
The ‘Juno’ Cherub Figural Lamp c.1896
This lamp, with a cast base, has a superbly cast spelter cherub kneeling on an onyx or marble disc. Originally the cherub would have been plated in bronze or gold. Nicely proportioned he is holding an embossed brass vase in which the removable ‘Juno’ font (with No. 2 burner) sits with an etched glass globe shade. A very ‘heavy’ lamp and like other banquet lamps, its purpose was just as much for decoration as light.
This lamp would have been found in the sitting room or parlour of the better Victorian house.
Height of lamp (to top of burner) 20 1/2"
The Tiny Banquet Lamp c.1893
This lamp is an excellent example of the extensive range of lamps made by the Miller Company. It is also a contradiction in terms. This ‘Tiny’ lamp has all of the features of a true ‘banquet’ lamp. This lamp has a highly decorative cast spelter vase, stem and base and a removable embossed brass font. It has a small No. 0 burner and in this case, a 6” white dome shade. It would have also been available with a ‘miniature’ painted globe shade.
The ‘Tiny’ removable font has all of the features of its larger cousin, including the embossed filler cap. The lamps kerosene capacity is very limited and although the small burner was economical, it is not designed to be lit for any great length of time.
A lamp like this, which today is extremely scarce, would have displayed on a ladies dressing table in only the wealthiest households.
Height of lamp photographed (to top of burner) 9 3/8"
Other Banquet Lamps c.1892 - 1898
A plainer lamp. This lamp is fitted with a plain brass removable font. The vase is brass with a copper coating with a decorative spelter ring. Given the copper coating that still partially remains on the base, I suspect that the spelter stem was also coated, and maybe still so, however it would be destructive to the lamp to find out. It is photographed here without its painted 10" dome shade.
Height (to top of burner) 21 1/2"
An impressive banquet lamp, of similar patterning to the banquet lamp above (first on page - yellow painted shade). This lamp displays a similar cast spelter vase, but with a 'crown' thus accomodating the scarce and very early high shoulders embossed brass removable fount. The stem is of fine white marble with a brass embellishment Like all good quality lamps, this one also displays the scarce rosette burner.
Height (to top of burner) 23 3/8"
An excellent example of the fine spelter casting that Miller used for his lamps. This cherub is found in Millers 1894 catolgoue - albeit with a different vase and fount. Here it displays a brass vase with a decorative cast band and pierced crown. The fount is the embossed ribbed pattern most often seen with the Juno wick raiser but here with the c. 1892 patent raiser.
Height (to top of burner) 22 5/8"