THE CARE AND CONSERVATION OF GLASS CHANDELIERS
JULIE A. REILLY, & MARTIN MORTIMER
1 GLOSSARY OF TERMS
ARM: A variably shaped glass branch appended to the stem of a chandelier for the support of a candle or glass ornament (figs. 1, 4, 5). Also called a branch.
ARM MOUNT: A metal fitting used to affix the arm to another part. The inner arm mount, which attaches a glass arm to the arm plate, is sometimes referred to as the ferrule or the socket, particularly the portion within the console or arm plate.
ARM PLATE: The cast and turned brass plate that accepts the arms of a chandelier. Also called the console or receiver plate(figs. 1, 7).
BEAD: A faceted glass item drilled to receive a wire, usually spherical, but sometimes ovoid or other shape.
BODY: The assembled central structure of glass stem-pieces and their interior metal supports. Also called the stem.
BOBECHE: An American or French term for a drip-pan.
BUSHING: The thick metal washer that centralizes and locates a stem-piece on the metal support rod. The washer or bushing is turned to provide two different-diameter collars and a flat lip upon which an upper stem-piece may rest. The lower diameter is turned to fit into the top of the neighboring stem-piece. Bushings are usually made of plated brass (see figs. 7, 11).
CANDLE TUBE: The tubular outer part of a glass arm that holds the candle.
CANOPY: Shaped inverted glass bowls with shaped borders, often provided at the top and bottom of a chandelier stem. Hanging from the outer margins various drops or chains could enrich the overall appearance of the chandelier (see fig. 10).
CHAINS: A number of faceted glass drops linked by metal chandelier pins. The drops are sometimes graded in size (see figs. 12, 13).
CONSOLE: Same as arm plate.
DOUBLE CURVE: Some arms are shaped into a double S–shaped series of curves, particularly in the rococo period of the 1760s and 1770s (see fig. 5).
DRIP-PAN: A glass dish encircling a candle tube or beneath a nozzle to catch falling wax drips (see figs. 1, 4, 5, 6). Also called a grease-pan.
DROP: The glass element hung from various parts of a chandelier or strung with pins to form chains for decorative purposes. Also called a pendant.
FERRULE: Same as arm mount.
FINIAL: The normally solid glass terminal at the bottom of a chandelier. The bottom of the finial is usually the lowest point of a chandelier (see figs. 1, 3). Sometimes in the shape of a knop.
GREASE-PAN: Same as drip-pan.
KICK ARM: A secondary arm that normally alternates with arms bearing candles and rises above them. The kick arm usually carries spires, but sometimes candles.
LINER: A spun brass bowl, gilded or lacquered, sometimes provided to lie within the glass receiver bowl to obscure the underside of the arm plate and its arm mounts (see fig. 7).
NOTCHING: Decorative slices cut from the angles of various glass components; notably from arms and spires (see figs. 4, 5, 8–10).
NOZZLE: A detachable candle holder. See also saveall and sconce.
ORNAMENT: Elaborate components added to the basic structure of chandeliers in the rococo period. They could hang or stand from metal mounts.
PAN: Same as drip pan.
PENDANT: Same as drop.
PLATFORM: The flange provided beneath a candle tube on a glass arm to support a drip pan (see fig. 4).
PRISM: A term preferred in the 18th century for a spire (see figs. 8, 9).
RECEIVER BOWL: The bowl-shaped glass stem-piece that covers the underside of the arm plate (see fig. 7).
RECEIVER PLATE: Same as arm plate.
ROCK CRYSTAL: The natural colorless quartz stone used to decorate metal chandeliers before glass was used. The term crystal is normally only applied to the natural stone and is not appropriate to use in the description of glass.
ROD: The central metal support of a chandelier. Usually iron or copper alloy and sometimes covered with silver or white metal plate covers or paint to alter the color of the metal within the glass stem-pieces (see figs. 1, 7, 11). Also called a shaft.
SAVEALL: A detachable glass candle sconce or nozzle, its saucer-shaped top integral with a tube that sockets into a candle tube on a glass arm (see figs. 5, 6). See also NOZZLE and SCONCE.
SCONCE: A term for a detachable candle holder of glass, sometimes interchangeable with nozzle. In the first half of the 18th century, the term was used to describe a pier glass with candle arms. See also NOZZLE and SAVEALL.
SHACKLE: The suspension ring of a chandelier, often elaborately shaped. It is secured by a nut, itself fitted with a stop screw designed to prevent the shackle nut from unscrewing, making the shackle free to turn 360° (see fig. 2).
SHAFT: Same as rod.
SINGLE CURVE: The normal shallow S shape of the glass chandelier arm (see fig. 4).
SOCKET: Same as arm mount.
SPIRE: A tapered ornament of triangular section sometimes cut with notches on the angles, sometimes fitted at the top with small canopies and finials. The spires are often fitted to glass arms with metal mounts (see figs. 8, 9, 10). See also PRISM.
STEM: Same as body.
STEM-PIECE: A hollow glass element of various shapes that is fitted over the rod or shaft (see figs. 1, 11). Often made in a baluster shape.
VASE: The central glass stem-piece of a neoclassical chandelier. Made either in one or two pieces (a vase and a separate cover) (see figs. 1, 11).
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SOURCES OF MATERIALSBench vise, ladders, flashlight, clamps, hand tools
Available at hardware storesClosed steel or brass chain, wood blocks, rubber bands, string, Ziploc bags, moving pads, detergent, distilled water, plaster, plasticine, acetone, ethanol, aliphatic hydrocarbon solvent, cotton
Available at hardware storesAmmonia, UV light (long- and short-wave), paper tags, pH strips, (Fisher, CMS, Thomas) Parafilm, thiourea, photographic wetting agent, formic acid, precipitated calcium carbonate
Available at scientific supply companiesCellulose nitrate coating
Agate Lacquer Co., 11–13 43d Rd., Long Island, City, N.Y. 11101, (718) 784-0660Chandelier pins
Midwest Lamp Parts, 3534 N. Spaulding Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60618, (773) 539-0628Tape recorder
Available at electronics storesAcrylic resin (for adhesives and for coatings), two-part epoxy, resins, etc.
Available from conservation supply stores
RECOMMENDED CHANDELIER AND PARTS SUPPLIERS
The reader should note that the following suppliers may have a selection of extra chandelier pieces that they may be reluctant to part with. These pieces may have been gathered for the purpose of finishing incomplete chandeliers in the supplier's collection rather than to sell to others.
Pegrex Ltd., 113–126 New John St., Birmingham B64 LD, U.K., (0121) 359-6881Various gauges of chandelier pins in various lengths, as well as pinning pliers with round points and side cutters.
Nestle, Inc., 151 E. 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10022, (212) 755-0515,Biggest U.S. supplier of light fittings.
Andrew Burne, 24 Parkway, London SW20 9HF, U.K., (0181) 540-4422,Serious period light fitting restorers with a large selection of parts.
Delomosne & Son Ltd., Court Close, North Wraxall, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 7AD, U.K., (0122) 589-1505, (0122) 589-1907 (fax),Specialists in period English light fittings with a large selection of parts.
David Fileman Antiques, “Squirrels”, Bayards, Steyning, Sussex BN4 3AA, U.K., (0190) 381-3229,Restorers of glass light fittings with a selection of parts.
Danys Sargeant, 21 The Green, Westerham, Kent TN16 1HX, U.K., (0195) 956-2130, (0195) 956-1989 (fax),Restorers of glass light fittings with a selection of parts.
Neil Wilkin, Unit 3, Wallbridge Business Park, Frome, Somerset BA11 5JY, U.K., (0137) 345-2574, (0137) 345-2574 (fax),A glass house where copies may be made. Cutting is done offsite.
Blue Crystal, Unit 6, 21 Wren St., London WC1, U.K., (0171) 278-0142,Good glass cutters.
Wilkinson PLC, 5 Catford Hill, London SE6 4NU, U.K., (0181) 314-1080,Offers a wide range of made and cut parts.
JULIE A. REILLY is the associate director and chief conservator for the Nebraska State Historical Society, where her responsibilities include the initial establishment and operation of the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, a new regional center in Omaha, Nebraska. She has been an objects conservator for 14 years, working and teaching at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution; Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Winterthur Museum; University of Delaware; and University of Nebraska. She has been privileged to work on several interesting chandelier projects with Martin Mortimer, Amanda Lange, Debbie Long, and Mack Truax. Address: Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center, Nebraska State Historical Society, 1326 South 32d St., Omaha, Nebraska 68105-2044.
MARTIN MORTIMER joined his business, Delomosne and Son Ltd., (founded in 1905) in 1948. The firm of dealers in varied ceramics had been handling glass lighting fittings since the early 1920s, and it was not long before he made this aspect of the firm's activities his main interest. Some hundreds of period English chandeliers, candelabra, wall brackets, and candlesticks have passed through the firm's hands, most requiring attention. The quantity and quality of the material have made possible great experience together with a considerable photographic archive. Martin Mortimer has written many articles on the subject of glass lighting, and a book is near completion. Address: Delomosne & Son Ltd., Court Close, North Wraxall, Chippenham, Wiltshire SN14 7AD, U.K.