bouillotte lamps

Key Features of Authentic Bouillotte Lamps

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For collectors interested in purchasing a true antique bouillotte lamp, there are certain distinctive design elements to look for. Bouillotte lamps have a long history stemming from 18th century France, where they were created to illuminate aristocratic card games. Their graceful silhouettes and intricate metalwork make them highly desirable for collectors today. This guide will overview the key features that set authentic bouillotte lamps apart.

Brass Construction

An authentic bouillotte lamp will typically be constructed from brass, which provides durability and a handsome traditional appearance [1]. The lamp’s base, shaft, candle arms, and other elements are usually brass. Modern copies may substitute cheaper metals. When examining a potential purchase, look for signs of solid brass construction. Tap on elements to check for the rich ringing tone of brass.

Candle Brackets

Early bouillotte lamps were designed to hold candles, with two to four slender candle arms extending upwards from the round base [1]. These arms served as brackets to hold taper candles that illuminated the lamp’s metal shade. Electric bouillotte lamps may incorporate empty candle arms for aesthetic purposes. When selecting a lamp, ensure it has the proper number of decorative candle brackets for authenticity.

Adjustable Shade

A key functionality of early bouillotte lamps was the adjustable metal lampshade, which allowed players to direct candlelight on the gaming table [2]. While not functional on electric lamps, some incorporate an adjustable shade as a decorative element and sign of authenticity. Look for a lampshade that can slide up and down on a central shaft.

Dish-Shaped Base

Some bouillotte lamps feature a round, dish-shaped base rather than a simple platform base [3]. This shape originally allowed space for gaming chips. A dish-shaped base adds vintage appeal and a subtle decorative element to the lamp’s silhouette.

Multiple Sockets

To achieve optimal illumination, many quality bouillotte lamps feature multiple electric light sockets [4]. While a single central socket provides light, additional sockets increase brightness. For a lamp that will brightly illuminate your space, seek out a design with three or four total sockets.

By inspecting these key features of construction, design, and functionality, collectors can identify authentic antique bouillotte lamps and select quality accent lighting. Proper selection ensures your lamp provides elegance and bright illumination while displaying its heritage as an aristocratic 18th century French creation.


[1] “Bouillotte Lamps: A Guide for Collectors.” Invaluable, Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

[2] “Mid Century Bouillotte Lamps.” Collectors Weekly, Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

[3] Aesthete. “Winning Bid: Directoire Bouillotte Lamp.” Reggie Darling, 11 July 2011, Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

[4] “Lamps Bouillotte.” Lumitop, Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

[5] Gibson, Sarah. “Trend Alert: Bouillotte Lamps.” Room for Tuesday, 22 Apr. 2021, Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

[6] “Departures and Arrivals.” Airnav, Accessed 15 Feb. 2023.

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