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Electric table lamp
  • Electric table lamp
    Benson, William Arthur Smith, born 1854 - died 1924
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Electric table lamp

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Benson, William Arthur Smith, born 1854 - died 1924 (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass, cast and sheet

  • Credit Line:

    Given by H. Blairman and Sons

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This brass electric table lamp was designed and made by William Arthur Smith Benson (1858-1924). It has a distinctive open, vaned shade that Benson used on several lamp designs and also adapted for a firescreen (Museum no. M.37-1972).

Benson was a great admirer of the designer and writer William Morris, who inspired him to set up a metalwork workshop in 1880. He later opened a well-equipped factory in Hammersmith, west London, and, in about 1887, a shop in Bond Street. The firm survived until he retired in 1920.

Benson’s firm produced some simple furniture but his great output was well-designed utilitarian metalwork, such as this lamp. He usually worked in copper and brass but sometimes in electroplate, producing lamps, teapots and food warmers.

Benson had always been interested in engineering and, unlike so many of his contemporaries in the Arts and Crafts movement, had little compunction about the use of the machine.

Physical description

The stand is cast in the form of an ogee arch with splayed ends. The moulded cast stem is soldered to the apex of this arch and curving upwards at right angles to the base. It is surmounted by a ball terminal to which a falt "U" shaped bracket is attached, supporting the shade, by a threaded screw with a knurled knob on one side and a thumb screw directly opposite. The shade is attached to this swivel bracket by two nuts and bolts. The shade itself is a cone of sheet brass, with a rivetted seam. The rim is a continuously alternating ogee shaped edge. The apex of the cone has been cut into palmettes which are splayed outwards at 45 degrees to the surface of the shade. Inside the apex is a circular disc, attached to the shade by screws, to a sleeve soldered to the underside and to which is soldered a bayonet fitting for the lamp. This in turn is screwed to a knurled sleeve with a double thread, to which the swith mechanism is attached. This is in the form of a flattened sphere. A bakelite spindle passes through the centre operating the on/off mechanism. One side of this mechanism unscrews to reveal the bakelite insulator and flex terminals. At one end of the sphere, at right angles to the switch, is a small inverted cone with an external thread for the knurled sleeve in the apex of the shade, which houses another bakelite insulator (damaged) and the elctrical points for the lamp. Directly opposite this is a small knurled screw trhough which the three core flex enters the switch housing.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1900 (made)


Benson, William Arthur Smith, born 1854 - died 1924 (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Brass, cast and sheet

Marks and inscriptions

The maker's mark of W.A.S. Benson is stamped on the underside of the base.


Height: 25.5 cm maximum, Width: 22 cm maximum, Depth: 23 cm not including length of wire

Object history note

Exhibition R.F.2002/1174

Descriptive line

Benson; Base Metal, 20th c.

Labels and date

Brsaa, with bakelite fittings
England, ca. 1900
Maker's mark of W.A.S. Benson []




Cutting; Shaping; Casting


Lighting; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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