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What is an Electrolier?

19 / May 2020

Antique Lighting

So what on earth is an electrolier?

Electrolier is a bit of technical jargon that we often use at Fritz Fryer Lighting.  It is used to describe a multi-armed ceiling pendant (or 'chandelier') that was originally made for electricity (i.e. as opposed to candles or gas).  Most people would call them chandeliers but, technically chandelier means the fitting was originally made for candles.  

Electrolier's began to appear in significant numbers in the Edwardian era as people began to convert their homes to electricity and wanted a beautiful 'chandelier' powered by this incredible new energy.  Many people converted existing fittings to work off electricity, but a whole new industry was born, without which, Fritz Fryer would never have existed.

The boon in electricity after the First World War saw it installed in many households on a large scale, so most 'antique' electroliers that you see will date from this era onwards.  The organic Art Nouveau style remained popular, but the more angular designs of Art Deco lighting became highly fashionable post war and many very beautiful examples of electroliers in these styles survive today.

Art Deco Chandelier

This beautiful Art Deco electrolier, dates from around 1920 and is a fabulous example of the simple, geometric designs of this style.  It is in stark contrast with the more organic lines of the nature inspired Art Nouveau electrolier below.

Art Nouveau Chandelier

This beautiful Art Nouveau electrolier has vaseline glass shades, which are highly collectible and rare.

Fortunately for us, companies such as Faraday and Sons and GEC had large catalogues of many wonderful designs of electroliers, many of which we see pass through our shop.  The combination of available electricity and new industrial techniques saw a move away from the ornate and delicate crystal chandeliers (although these have always remained popular as a prestigious lighting option) towards metal electroliers which were produced in larger numbers and which tend to survive somewhat more intact than their crystal counterparts.  Generally made of brass, these wonderful fittings are prime for restoration and a staple of our antique collection.  We have a pretty special collection of both crystal, brass and bronze electoliers available here.