More than ever, we are recognising the value of our gardens as outdoor rooms. The nights are drawing in and the temperature is dropping, but that doesn’t mean we have to abandon the garden until next summer. Alongside modern inventions like the mighty patio heater, antique lanterns are a great way to create a cosy atmosphere
Let there be light
The role of lanterns throughout history is well-illustrated in books, folklore, and illustrations. They are one of the oldest forms of lighting in the world, with the first recorded lanterns dating to the Han Dynasty in ancient China.
From the lanterns sailors used in the 18th Century, lit by whale oil, to the electric ones used by police officers from the late 19th Century to fight crime in the dark, these versatile objects have long been indispensable to humans. Throughout their long history, lanterns have used animal fat, candles, oil, gas, and finally electricity.
Some antique lanterns originated in a street environment. Scotsman William Murdoch invented the coal-fuelled gaslight in 1802 to try and make street lighting more efficient. Five years later, London had its first gas-lit road – Pall Mall. These lanterns are often of good scale with a charming sense of history. Whether hung as a pendant or freestanding, street lanterns will bring authentic and unique character to a space.
Antique lanterns for every occasion
Despite immense technological advancement, antique lanterns remain very popular for both indoor and outdoor use. We may no longer rely on these primitive sources for light, as our ancestors did, but they are undeniably very stylish. Lanterns, as décor and as light sources, are perfect for creating an old-fashioned atmosphere.
No outdoor gathering works without some light to see each other by. Lanterns are ideal for creating light at all levels, without it feeling glaring. They come in all forms to suit your setting; they can hang on a chain, sit on the floor nestled by a table, or attach to a wall.
Rain or shine
One thing that hasn’t changed since the 1700s is unpredictable weather conditions, so antique lanterns are often designed to resist the elements. Good materials include toleware, steel, aluminium, copper, and brass.
Meanwhile, antique storm lanterns have a wonderful industrial look and were literally designed to withstand the most extreme weather. Years of exposure to the elements can bring out a fabulous patina in these time-worn objects. Vivid verdigris, burnishing, and tarnishing only adds to their whimsical appeal.
Featured here is just a sample of our lanterns, so make sure you browse our whole collection online.