These are two beautiful sconces which, although not a pair, display beautifully together. These early 19th century glazed sconces have beautiful embossed metal pieces arranged under the glass into designs depicting geometric and petal shapes. The metal is shiny and has been described in various books and articles as either tin or pewter. It is as thin as tin used for most candle sconces and I believe it to be silvered tin. However, I have never taken one of this type of sconce apart to confirm my thought that the beautiful decorative backings are silvered tin as I believe. This type of sconce is made of many separately made and placed pieces of tin which make the sconce very 3 dimensional. The different placement of individual pieces of metal changes the reflection by projecting it to other parts of the room almost like individual spot lights.
The sconce pictured on the left has an early red paint on the back and sides. The sconce would not have been painted when made, but it was probably painted soon after manufacture with this red paint. The right hand sconce has been reglazed but the color painted over the glaze is a very good match to the original paint on the back and candle cup. The arm for the original candle cup and drip pan is not soldered to the body and you can slip it closer to or farther from the back to a certain extent, but the socket for the arm is pressed close enough that you cannot remove it completely without a bit of a struggle (which I’m not going to do because I like that it is held to the body). The middle piece of embossed decorated reflector pan has slipped away from one of the nails holding it in place and the placement is a bit wonky, which I’ve tried to show you with the photos. You really won’t notice it unless you look at it closely. The metal reflectors on the very edge of the reflector pan were placed so that they are almost parallel to the glass.
The sconce pictured on the right has the most beautiful, bubbly original glass. The red paint on the glaze may be original to when it was made and also the remnants of red paint around the outside edge. I think the candle cup on this one may have been replaced, but it still looks awfully early to my eyes. The arm for this candle cup sits even with the bottom of the backsplash. It is soldered into the back so it is not removable. There are some bent individual embossed metal pieces within the reflector pan, but it is hard to notice unless you are inspecting. The embossing on the individual metal pieces is more elaborate than the embossing on the left hand sconce with an added element of texture.
The diameter of both sconce glazed backings is 9 ½”. The red painted sconce is 12 ½” tall from the top of the backing to the bottom of the candle cup (which hangs lower than the backing). The sconce with the original glass is 10” tall since it’s candle cup is virtually even with the bottom of the disc backing.
These American sconces are always rarities. Having one with an original paint history and the other with original glass plus both with such complicated designs is a great find. I will sell them separately or as an assembled pair. I think they are just lovely displayed together. Circa 1800.
(#5493 & 5494) POR
“American Tin Candle Sconces.” In Lighting in America From Colonial Rushlights to Victorian Chandeliers, edited by Cook, Lawrence S. (New York, Universe Books, 1975.) , 104-05.
Hayward, Arthur H., Colonial Lighting. (New York, Dover Publications, Inc. 1962), 31.