Thursday, November 5, 2015

Porcelain Light Fixtures of the 1920s

By Gretchen Sawatzki

This ad shows the ideal "sanitary kitchen" of the 1920s.
Image source 
From 1860 to 1920 the United States population boomed from approximately 31 million people to over 106 million. This influx impacted America's largest cities stressing what little infrastructure existed and raised questions about sanitation. With millions of immigrants entering the country annually, concerns with infectious diseases, sanitation systems, and public health became a civic problem forcing large cities to organize public health commissions to address the issue.

Among those most concerned with sanitation were the women of the era with a particular concern with sanitation in the home. At the turn of the century concerns of infectious disease and public awareness of proper cleanliness and hand-washing altered home interior design. Manufacturers began marketing porcelain products from tile, to sinks, toilets, and even light fixtures as a solution to keeping the home clean. By the 1920s porcelain light fixtures became widely used in kitchens and bathrooms and maintained their popularity through the 1950s. Today, porcelain light fixtures are still used in kitchens and bathrooms due to their ease of cleaning and maintenance, and can be found as ceiling fixture, sconces, and even pendants lights.
Art Deco porcelain bathroom sconce from the 1920s.
Image by Hannah Manning via Materials Unlimited 

This 1920s porcelain light fixture typified the fixtures of the era.
Image by Hannah Manning via Materials Unlimited


  1. do you know if it is possible to find a new socket with a pull chain for this kind of fixture. I have an old one and have been told that the only way to make it workable again is to replace the socket with a twist switch as you show in first fixture above.

  2. Hi Geri, yes it is entirely possible to replace your old pull chain socket with a new one, in fact the photo above does show a new replacement socket inside an antique light fixture. You can purchase replacement sockets through a number of vendors, but this is one that we prefer:

    Hope this helps!

    @Mike Stathos: Thanks for the compliment!

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