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Table lamp

Walter von Nessen (American, 1899–1943)

Pattyn Products Company (American, active c. 1900–1950)

c. 1935

Medium aluminum, bakelite, and glass Measurements H: 20 diam: 8 in. (50.8 x 20.32 cm) Credit Martha Mack Lewis Fund Accession Number 1999.5.1 Location Not on View


With stair-stepped rings of contrasting aluminum and Bakelite assembled around a central shaft, this lamp evokes the clean precision of industrial machinery. The designer’s choice of materials exemplifies the growing use of metals and plastics in consumer products in the 1930s. Aluminum was well suited for use in lighting devices; its pale matte surface softly and efficiently reflected incandescent light. Bakelite, a hard resilient plastic patented in 1909, could be cast in a mold and then cut and polished much like wood or metal.