Innovation, circa 1905

What did the Rockefellers, Vanderbuilts, the White House, and the Boston Public Library have in common?  Lighting designed by the most prolific designer of early electric lighting, Edward F. Caldwell.  In fact, Caldwell lighting could be found in almost all of the finest homes and institutions for the first half of the 20th century.  Already an experienced gaslighting designer, he started his own company in 1895, focusing solely on creating beautiful lighting using the new electric technology.  He and his business partner, Victor von Lossberg, took frequent trips to Europe, and were students of traditional antiques and forms, replicating them in their lighting.   Caldwell worked with architects to custom design lighting for opulent interiors.  With a team of draughtsmen and a foundry right in New York City,  Edward F. Caldwell & Co. became known for exacting quality and limitless design possibilities.   

Caldwell Basket Chandelier C320

The Chandelier featured here was commissioned from E.F. Caldwell for a property on Commonwealth Ave around 1905, and is signed.  The gilt bronze castings and form are french inspired, and the fife and drums are a symbol of the American Revolution.  It has 12 interior lights around the center stem, lighting from the center, with a glow that would not have been possible with candle or gas, a true celebration of electric light.

For more about Caldwell including drawings and photos, visit the Smithsonian Institution’s Digital Collection: Shedding Light on New York: Edward F. Caldwell & Co.

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