In 1855 the American professor of chemistry Benjamin Silliman jr. (1816–1885) designed the first paraffin lamp (a. k. a. kerosene lamp). From about 1870 onwards kerosene (paraffin, lamp oil) was used to illuminate indoor rooms on a broad scale. Since the cheap, basic (shadeless) lamps were blinding, resourceful people thought about possible remedies they could sell. Consequently, almost all printers of card models and similar paperware, always looking for new sales opportunities, took up the idea to produce lampshade construction sets. Of course the shades were printed with fashionable and popular motifs that might enhance sales. What would have been easier than making them into exhibitions of an ideal world or far-off countries? Thus, from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century, lampshades became a popular way to satisfy one's yearning for "beautiful places". Constant favorites were images of exoctic regions, in particular if they were way out of reach for the buyer; common examples (for US citizens) were Switzerland, India and Turkey. A very popular additional effect were "night images" – transparent sections that produced, when back-lit by the lamp, an illusion of seeing a night view of a town or landscape. If you are interested to read more about lampshades we recommend the corresponding chapter by Dieter Nievergelt in our book „Von der zweiten in die dritte Dimension – 500 Jahre Bauen mit Karton
“ (p. 217), Möckmühl 2015.
At the "modell-hobby-spiel" fair 2016 in Leipzig the AGK had, among other things, 11 such lampshades on display, built by Dieter Nievergelt. In 2017 a smalle exhibition in the Schreiber museum in Esslingen shows approx. 20 different lamp shades. Because of a strong public demand we offer selected historical lampshades for download so you can print and build your own. All models shown are from the collection of Dieter Nievergelt who has also built the models and provided the images.