High-quality construction and sleek contemporary finish elevates any decor. Classic frosted glass shade in white for a warm, room-filling glow. Comes with an LED bulb.
The pull chain needs a firm grip.
A classic banker’s lamp with a tinted green shade and antique brass finish. Comes with an LED bulb. Arrives fully assembled and securely packaged.
Chain is hard to pull at first.
Striking oil-rubbed bronze finish and frosted amber glass shade offers warm lighting and a retro, farmhouse look. Comes with 3-foot cord. Simple, no-tool assembly.
Doesn’t come with a lightbulb.
Classic banker’s lamp design with green tinted shade and antique brass finish. Includes a 1-amp USB charging port for smaller devices and smartphones.
Does not come with a lightbulb. Some buyers have received broken deliveries.
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Lighting is an important element of any desk environment, and one way to improve your available light without breaking the bank is with a banker’s lamp. Around since the early 1900s, these lamps offer a classic design with the added benefit of taking up little desk space.
Simple to operate and maintain, a banker’s lamp works equally well as a source of light to work by or as an attractive warm accent light. If you are used to the classic brass base and green shade of a banker’s lamp, you may be surprised by the wide variety of styles, shades, and sizes that are now common with these lamps.
Our buying guide examines all the key considerations and features you will need to take into account when shopping for a banker’s lamp, including price.
While the classic banker’s lamp has changed little over the past hundred-plus years, there are now a variety of other styles to choose from. The most common styles of banker’s lamps are traditional, modern, and Tiffany-style.
Some banker’s lamps have simple lines, while others are more rustic or feature intricately carved bases. Your best strategy when selecting among the various banker’s lamp styles is to consider the décor of the room where you will place it.
Some banker’s lamps are designed to hold two bulbs, while others are designed for one bulb. Two bulbs will usually produce more light and also produce light over the whole length of the shade. Some banker’s lamps are also restricted in what type and size of bulbs they can use.
One of the benefits of a banker’s lamp is its compact footprint. They typically don’t take up much space on a desk. But the one size aspect where these lamps can differ a bit is in their height. If you are planning on using a banker’s lamp on a desk, height can be a significant factor in how comfortable the lamp will be to use. The bottom of the shade should be positioned right at your eye level. Everything from your own size to the height of your chair to the height of the lamp itself needs to converge to maximize comfort.
Banker’s lamps start out at around 12 inches tall and can reach up to 20 inches. The average height for a banker’s lamp is 14 to 16 inches.
As mentioned, a banker’s lamp shade is no longer relegated to one lovely hue of green. Shades can now be found in a range of styles and colors. While the majority will be some form of glass – frosted is common – some will be made from plastic or even materials such as mica.
The color of the glass is important for everything from aesthetics to the amount of light that filters through, but the quality of the glass is also key to finding a lamp that will last for years. The glass of a shade should be thick enough that it will not easily break. At the same time, it shouldn’t be so thick and heavy that it can overpower a lighter base and cause the lamp to tip over.
A shade should also easily adjust so that you can direct where the light goes. The shade should also have enough tension on the ends that it will hold its position until you reposition it. Often a shade will feature bolts on either side to adjust the shade tension.
Traditionally made from bronze, banker’s lamp bases are usually crafted from some form of metal these days. Manufacturers seeking a traditional appearance will then add a brass coating. Some bases are relatively plain in design, while others feature intricate carvings. Some also feature a distressed or worn finish, giving the banker’s lamp more of an antique feel. Whatever its makeup or design, the base should be heavy enough to keep the lamp stable.
The classic banker’s lamp design has a pull string, a simple metal chain that is used to turn the lamp on and off. While some banker’s lamps use more common rotary switches to power on and off, the majority of these lamps stick with the original pull-string design.
Be careful when using these pull strings, as some are very springy and can snap back up to strike the lamp shade. If the pull string has a larger metal element on the bottom – also common – the string can crack the shade if it hits it just right.
The electrical cord should be long enough to easily reach an outlet. If you’re using the lamp on a desk, this typically isn’t much of a problem. The average length for a banker’s lamp power cord is five to six feet.
Banker’s lamps were first sold as Emeralite lamps, a name which some still refer to them by.
Banker’s lamps start out at around $35 to $40 and can reach up to $70 or more. The average price for a quality banker’s lamp is in the $40 to $55 range.
Banker’s lamps under $40 typically offer a simple build. These tend to be single-bulb lamps, shorter in height than other banker’s lamps, and feature either an inexpensive glass shade or even a plastic one. The majority of lamps in this range offer the classic green shade design.
In the $40 to $55 range, you start to find banker’s lamps that are more ornate. Lamps here are taller – averaging around 16 inches – and can be found in a range of colors. Some cheaper Tiffany-style banker’s lamps can also be found here.
Banker’s lamps over $55 offer a superior build and often more elaborate bases. Intricate Tiffany-style shades are common here, as well as two-bulb designs capable of producing more light and “filling out” a shade better.
A. In addition to brightness (wattage), bulbs are also sold in three different temperature ranges (measured in Kelvin). These ranges provide different types of light for different tasks or settings.
A. This will vary lamp to lamp, but, generally, yes. Manufacturers today often design banker’s lamps with LED bulbs in mind. LEDs run much cooler, last longer, and can provide more light in a lamp of this size than incandescent bulbs. You should take care if using incandescent bulbs, as higher-wattage incandescent bulbs can produce enough heat to actually damage a banker’s lamp, particularly if it uses a plastic shade. When deciding which type and size of bulb to use, adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
A. Not really. One of the great aspects of banker’s lamps is that they offer a simple design that requires little upkeep. You should plan to dust the lamp every couple of months with a soft cloth and perhaps a bit of furniture polish to shine up the base. You can also wipe down a glass shade with a little glass cleaner if it starts to collect grime or fingerprints. Before attempting any lamp cleaning, though, be sure the lamp is off and the bulb is cool.