We were able to identify and restore a pair of mid-century light fixtures in our 1955 Eichler this last week. I was not liking the frayed cords and was worried about fire hazard; after ~50+ years' worth of use, these fixtures were in need of rehab.
You can see the full project here on Flickr.
I must give special thanks to:
- Bo Sullivan, historian and archivist at Rejuvenation for help in identifying the lamps EJS Model 1204, per a 1959 light fixture catalog;
- Pam Kueber from retrorenovation.com for posting about mid-century lighting and leading me to Bo;
- Norman Metcalf and his assistant, David: clever Sacramento area electricians extraordinaire.
I started this project by trying to identify the pair of pull down brass fixtures online, which led me to Pam's wonderful blog entry regarding the identification of her vintage pull down fixture. This, in turn, led me to Bo Sullivan, historian with Rejuvenation in Portland, Oregon. I sent him some pictures and he had a hunch that the fixtures were from E. J. S. Lighting Corporation from Los Angeles and began his research.
Bo then sent me this picture of Lamp EJS Model 1204, page 70 from 1959 E. J. S. Lighting Corporation's catalog and I immediately knew he was correct. Per Bo, "None of the other catalogues showed wood wall brackets remotely like this shape - one of those details where everyone had something slightly different. The catalogue states the bracket is walnut. This catalogue is 1959, so perhaps if your light is original to the 1955 home EJS had evolved the design a little by this time. The 1204 sold for 19.40 in 1959."
Bo also confirmed that the original rounded style rayon cord is no longer available, so I decided to try to rehab the lamps using the original cord, even though I had obtained new rayon flat cord from Revival Lighting.
Our electrician, Norman Metcalf, and I discussed this re-use and decided that the undamaged old cord was just as well-insulated (if not more) than the newer cord. Once he disassembled the first fixture we got quite an eyeful of what heat from excess wattage can do to a fixture.
After rewiring the fixtures, Norman recommended lower watt CFL's instead of incandescent bulbs. We used 60 watt equivalent CFL's. After Norman's repair magic, we can now rest easier that the lamps will no longer be a fire hazard. The CFL's generate less heat, use less energy and the fixtures are no longer too hot to the touch. They throw a decent amount of light and due to the enclosed design of the fixture are just as aesthetically pleasing.
If you have a vintage lighting project, I recommend Norman from Metcalf Electric at (916) 456-6862. I've been working with him for years at our other mid-century home up the street. He is easy to work with and will help you find a good solution specific to your needs.