The Stiffel Company was founded in 1932 by Ted Stiffel, and his lamps immediately became the benchmark in quality for all lamps produced in North America. Rather than simply focus on producing the cheapest lamps available, he instead focused on producing lamps that would last. In fact, his lamps were so well produced in terms of longevity that they actually became a standard heirloom that families would pass from one generation to the next. These lamps were of such high quality that they would actually outlive their own wiring.
Curiously, unlike, for example, Tiffany-style lamps, Stiffel lamps do not denote a particular design of lamp. In fact, there is no style of lamp that was ever initiated by Stiffel. On the contrary, Tiffel took the lamps that were already available, and tweaked the styles. He took those lamps and tried to make them look more classy, often improving the quality of materials, the level of ornamentation and even the type of craftsmanship applied to the lamps. As a result, there are Tiffel lamps available for all tastes and style choices.
New Stiffel Lamps
The current series of lamps from Stiffel leans toward the more traditional forms of decor. This “Expressions” series includes a high quality brass base that has been attractively moulded into a series of surprising yet attractive curves. They have done a very good job of keeping some of the geometric shapes of more modern design with the more natural flow of more traditional designs. The lampshades are in a surprising white, which both makes the lamp feel more lively while providing your room with a higher quality of useful lamps.
Vintage Stiffel Lamps
Although there are some Stiffel lamps still in production, the best source of them will still almost always be online. Stiffel has cycled through a number of different styles over the years, and therefore, you are more likely to find the Stiffel lamp that you are looking for if you search through vintage lamps. Be aware, though, that there really isn’t such a thing as a Stiffel-style lamp. Stiffel is a brand known for its quality of production and materials, not for its particular style. Therefore, you should be wary of anything claiming to simply by Stiffel “style”.
Recognizing Stiffel Lamps
Despite their being the most well-respected producers of lamps in the last fifty years, Stiffel lamps can actually be tricky to recognize, at least for non-antiques dealers. Since they have a wide variety of styles over a number of decades and since there is no signature style, how does one even know which lamps are Stiffel? Fortunately, there are three ways to tell. First, Stiffel lamps come with a small, foil signature that says “Stiffel Lamp Company” right on it. Unfortunately, this signature often came off. If there is no foil, look for the word “Stiffel Lamp Company” or the initials “SLC” on the lamp itself. Most lamps don’t have it, but some do. Finally, open up the base of the lamp to look for “Stiffel Lamp Company” or “SLC” on the inside. Unfortunately, when purchasing a lamp, many dealers won’t let you open it. However, never buy a lamp that someone claims is a Stiffel lamp without proof that it is such.