The fact that Shawnee Pottery produced lamp bases came to light some 16 or 17 years ago. Figural lighting, popular in the Forties, became very fashionable in the Fifties. Oriental décor was also very much in vogue and Shawnee made a variety of inexpensive figural lamps including more than two dozen Oriental designs and colorations. Collectors were starting to become aware that there were Orientals, Spanish Dancers, Moor Heads w/gold trim, Colonials and Deer figural lamps out there. Ribbon with Bow, three urn styles (Floral, Bluebird and Open Bow) and Ballerina lamps were also found and identified. Many others have been discovered and verified over the years. I always expect to see a photo of a new “maybe” on this website.
In some respects identification can be challenging. The inside of a lamp made by Shawnee will be glazed. Most, but not all, will have bottoms with step-down glazed “Inner Strength Rings” (ISRs). A few were also marked USA. A lamp with an ISR, as stated, was made by Shawnee. An apparent duplicate of that lamp, with a different bottom, was not. We never bid on a lamp listed on Ebay unless the seller will provide a photo of the bottom. Better safe than sorry.
The very popular Shawnee Deer lamps and the hard-to-find Puppy (see Note) on the same base, for whatever reason, were made without ISRs. They all have open bottoms with narrow unglazed rims. Designed in a variety of color combinations they were introduced in the early or mid-Forties since many have been found with their original Bakelite sockets (metal was in short supply during WW2).
Orientals and Spanish dancers were made in several different sizes with some on separate attached pedestal bases. The pedestal bases all have ISRs. They came in two color styles. “Pink” (maroon, pink & yellow) and “Green” (deep green, light green & yellow). We own one Oriental with a lavender jacket that was probably a “lunchtime project”. There are a lot of “young Boy w/urn and Girl w/fan” Orientals without ISRs made by some other pottery. We have not heard of any non-Shawnee Colonials but there are plenty of Moor Heads without ISR’s, so be careful. Ribbon & Bow lamps were made with either pink ribbons or blue ribbons and were marked “USA.” We have seen a few of the Bluebird and Floral lamps that were not made by Shawnee.
Native Man and Woman lamps have either natural native skin tones or the very rare “black” skin color and are gold trimmed.
The Ballerina /pedestal is a beautiful HTF lamp. Most are found with a blue tutu and pink background. Ours has a pink tutu and blue background and we’ve never come across another although there must be more of them out there. Anyone own one dressed in pink? Smaller ballerinas have been found without ISRs. Did Shawnee make them? Since we’ve only seen photos it would be foolish to even venture a guess.
Shawnee cold painted lamps marketed in the early Forties were found and confirmed in 1992 (re: April article).
Mother Goose was produced in the mid-Forties on the same base as the earlier cold painted Goose. A harder to find Rabbit was also made on that base in several different color combinations. Original sockets were Bakelite. Base bottoms have a step-down to a glazed strength ledge. The cold painted Cowboy lamp (re: April article) has that same kind of glazed ledge.
Patent records revealed one issued to Shawnee for a wall sconce lamp that was being collected as a Hull product. The bases (that attach to the wall) are decorated with yellow or green or blue, have ISRs and are marked USA.
A hard-to-find nautical lamp with embossed rope, anchor and stars has the ISR and USA marking and has been found in burgundy, light blue and cobalt. We have a pair in cobalt and they are striking. We also have a smaller 7” lamp with the same exact body shape and bottom. It has the embossed floral design found on a Shawnee teapot (Mangus’ book, pg. 198, top left). The lamp is dusty rose with a matte finish and probably was an experimental sample.
There are three styles of little known urn lamps with florets on their handles. All of them have typical Shawnee ISRs. So far, found in burgundy and flax blue. Two styles are 9” and have USA marks. The third style (photo #3) is 9.25” and has a barely discernable number that could be 718. One lamp is ours and the others belong to Bob Treutelaar who was kind enough to supply photos.
Note: Although all the Puppy Dogs and Deer lamps that we’ve seen or heard of have narrow rimmed open bottoms without ISRs, we own a Puppy with a step-down glazed ledge (the same type bottom as the Mother Goose and the Rabbit). It has a very deep brown puppy (that looks black) on a white base. Cary Taylor has, what appears to be (from photos), the same exact lamp. His, however, does have the same bottom as all the others. Ours could have been a preliminary model that was never produced with the bottom constructed that way. If anyone else has one (Deer or Puppy) with a bottom like ours we would like to hear from you.
If Shawnee lamps were as aggressively searched for as their kitchenware and dinnerware products many more would have been found by now. That’s our opinion for whatever it’s worth.