Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Lava Lite Timeline - The 1970s

L E G E N D:

Years
General Information
Model Names and Numbers
Catalog tidbits
Descriptions
Colors - Lava/Liquid
Variations known or reported


<< Early 1970s >>

Any models not mentioned below were discontinued between 1970 and 1972. Some of the models below were introduced at different times - these are not yet known. The Consort with plastic base stayed in production in some form until at least 1975, later as the Nordic. This was a basic Consort, in a chrome finish. The wood-colored plastic pedestal was replaced by "onyx", in reality the woodgrained plastic in a black color. Variants include a thick, square pedestal, painted silver, and units with a solid square black or white stone pedestal. Some have a chrome cap, others have gloss black. "Nordic" was also the name for a cylindrical lamp produced in the UK by Crestworth Ltd. Another chrome Consort-type lamp has a trumpet-flared chrome support instead of a post and pedestal.

The Century
Gold-tone base. Many 1970s Century bases fade to a silver color, with the gold cap giving them away.
#101 Red / Fluorescent Green
#102 Orange / Yellow
#103 Green / Blue
#104 Yellow / Green-Blue
#106 Red / Clear

List price: $29.95.
1970s Centuries have been found with matching silver caps and bases.

Later, probably by 1973, the Century was reduced to only three colors:
#102 Orange / Yellow
#103 Green / Blue
#106 Red / Clear
List price: $32.95

The Starlight Aristocrat, model 1120
All info in the 1968-1969 section applies.
List price: $29.95
 
The Commander
A short-lived early-70s series. No details are known, save that it was produced after the switch from orange to red lava (see below). A Starlight Aristocrat with a black base and cap.

The 8000 series:
"This series features a unique NEW color combination: Lime in Green!"
In the early 70s, this model was redesigned slightly. The exact date is not known, and there are other factors; slender "Elegant" style Vase models have been found dated 1974, and yet later conical-style Planter models turn up dated 1972 or 1973. The basic model 8100 Vase was the same shape as the masses of black, silver, white and colored base models sold by Lava in the 90s, such as the Midnight - the base was a pair of narrow cones joined at their narrowest point, and the globe was a narrower version of the Century globe shape, with a taller, narrower cap having a flat top. It was the earlier "Elegant", filled out into straight angles. Again, the cap was black plastic, sprayed gold. The 8200 Planter simply added the metal tray. Again, both used a 40 watt appliance bulb.
 
The Enchantress Vase, model 8100
16 1/2" tall, 4 1/8" dia.
#8102 Orange / Yellow
#8103 Green / Blue
#8106 Red / Clear
#8109 Lime / Green

List price: $25.50

The Enchantress Planter, model 8200
This model was, like its slimmer Enchantress precursor, provided with plastic greenery.
16" tall, 4 1/8" at base, 6 1/2" tray.
#8202 Orange / Yellow
#8203 Green / Blue
#8206 Red / Clear
#8209 Lime / Green

List price: $27.50
This model has, like all 32oz and 52oz cone and small cylinder globes, a black plastic cap, sprayed a metallic matte gold; most cylinders like the Consort had a polished finish. One variant of the Planter dated 1972 has a cap that is approx. 1/8" taller than most, made from gold-sprayed RED plastic. When the lamp is turned on, the red glows softly from under the gold, probably an unintentional side effect not foreseen when they were produced.

The Mediterranean, model 2940
"Exotic Spain inspires a creation with all the mystery of Aladdin's Lamp. A hypnotic spell-binder designed for the Mediterranean mood"
This beautiful lamp followed the 1970s trend in Mediterranean furnishings. This model used a Consort globe, cup and cap. The base of the cup had the cord attached. The base was supported perhaps 4" off the table by three legs made from segments of bent steel bands made to resemble scrolls of wrought iron. The base and scrolls were finished in a dull jet black, the cap was matte black plastic. 13 1/4" tall, 4 1/4" dia. This lamp used a 30 watt intermediate base bulb.
#2942 Orange / Yellow
#2943 Green / Blue
#2946 Red / Clear

List price: $18.95, later $22.95
There is a variation having a GemLite glitter globe, see below.

The Lava Coach Lantern, model 6000
An amazing model taken directly from Crestworth in England, which by this time was still producing the AstroLight. This model was distinctively styled after a lantern. The original English version was available in red (Port) and green (Starboard) colors. The first models of this produced in the US followed Crestworth's style, the lamp being finished in gleaming polished anodic (anodized) copper, over aluminum. The lamp used a 52 oz. Century globe. The base was essentially a cone, the narrow lower end attached to a short, wide cylinder. Over the lamp's cap fitted a false over-cap, held by two rods attached into the base and bent to follow the contours of the bottle. These rods attached to either side of the over-cap with screws. A handle was attached above, which could be folded to the side. On the top of the base's cylinder, to one side, was a "fill" cap, presumably to add imaginary kerosene to this "lantern". It is believed that this lamp was imported from Crestworth in England. All catalogs before the 1980s show this style, though only a short time later, a run of simpler versions were produced in the US. The first copied the British style, but had slightly less detail, and used a very red satin copper finish. Next was the same lamp in satin brass with copper rods, handle and fill cap. By 1976, a much-simplified style was produced using a subtle brassy copper finish. This last type omitted the fill cap, had less detail, and used a different method of attaching the rods into the base and the over-cap to the rods. The side rods - and the handle, which in this simplest style did not fold - were bent from a single rod. This model was 18 1/4" tall and 6 1/4" dia and used a 40 watt appliance bulb.
#6002 Orange / Yellow
#6003 Blue / Green
#6006 Red / Clear

List price: $39.95

This lamp, also known as a Coachlite, needs attention paid to its handle. With early types having a folding handle, the side rods screw into the base. Though the author does not advise doing this, the lamps are generally sturdy enough that they may be suspended from the handle or carried by it, provided the threads where side rods attach to base are not worn or stripped and the support screws (or on brass/copper version, hex nuts) are securely tightened. The single bent metal rod comprising handle and side rods on the later simple type had notches cut into the rod near its lower ends, each side clipping into a hole in the base, and is made of aluminum. This is NOT a sturdy arrangement - picking up the lamp, carrying or suspending it by the handle will wear on the notches, and if there is enough wear, the rods will let go from the base, resulting in a messy accident! Be careful.

The three models below, the 300, 400 and 500, may have been introduced at the same time. They shared at least one catalog page together. They all use the same sort of lamp, a 40 watt hi-intensity bulb with an intermediate (C-9) base, which was set at an angle beneath the globe due to the small amount of clearance in the base. Some versions had a domed steel reflector under the bulb to concentrate the heat.


The Carlisle, model 300

"Stylishness with simplicity; beauty without blandness"

The above ad copy really says it all. A conical Enchantress-style globe sat in a base consisting of a single, tapered cone. The base and bottle formed a single tall, narrow cone, broken only by the inwardly-curved rim of the base and the "hips" of the globe. The base was perforated with small holes for a starlight look, and the lamp was finished in satin gold-tone.

#302 Orange / Yellow
#303 Green / Blue
#306 Red / Clear

The Saturna, model 400

"...inspired by the celestial bodies..."

While the above ad copy seems to hint at Saturn's rings, this model's base was formed as a satin gold-tone flying saucer. Two wide, shallow cones, placed together at their widest points, sat on a footed black plastic tray, as used on the Century model. A few circular grooves were incised into the upper cone. An Enchantress globe sat in an opening in the top. 

#402 Orange / Yellow
#403 Green / Blue
#406 Red / Clear

An odd version of this, which may or may not be original, has a turquoise base with a flecked, granite-like finish of turquoise, green and black with bits of glitter.


Aladdin's Lamp, model 500

This themed model was a stunning addition to the Lava line-up. A hemispherical base, wide end up, was topped by a shallow conical top with a flared opening that held the Enchantress-size globe. The base sat on a shallow, domed support, and was adorned with a black metal or plastic spout attached to one side and a black plastic handle, ending in a neat scroll, attached to the other. The base and cap were satin gold-tone. A pretty and collectible model.

#502 Orange / Yellow
#503 Green / Blue
#506 Red / Clear

There are two versions of this lamp. One uses a half-sphere base, the other's base is visibly shallower.


<< Mid to Late 1970s >>

Lava-Simplex Corp. was now Lava-Simplex Internationale, Inc. A few additions were made to the line in the mid 1970s. Two new shapes were introduced: tall straight-sided columns, the cross section of one an oval, the other a square. These were designed in a 1970s "Executive Contemporary" style. As well, in these two shapes plus three others, a new glitter lamp was introduced: the GemLite. A motorized liquid display, The Wave Machine, was introduced as a non-lighted product. This, like the square and oval lamps, was probably aimed at the Business Executive market: something relaxing to watch while in the office.
 
The GemLite models
"Enjoy the newest visual sensation in environmental lighting... Thousands of floating silver flecks twinkle. A multi-color hypnotic spell that charms and fascinates"
This was Lava-Simplex's second venture into the glitter realm. This style used a thin, heat-responsive liquid, probably a combination of Freon and an Ethyl or Methyl Alcohol or possibly Perchloroethylene or Trichlorotrifluoroethane. This fill is commonly called a "fast glitter", and variants of it were used in lamps produced in the UK, in France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Scandinavia and Taiwan. Like the 60s Glitterlite, convection currents drive the glitter around; in this case, glitter consisted of square flakes of mylar with a chrome-like coating. The lamps were provided with a sticker that could be placed on the underside of the globe, printed with transparent color stripes to make multicolor effects on the glitter. The earliest ones used red, blue, yellow. Later ones added green. This liquid is NOT "user-friendly", and has rather nasty fumes. It evaporates quickly. Do not open these.

 
The two new models below, the 700 and 800, were probably based on liquor bottles. An executive or designer may have found these bottles, envisioned them as part of new lamps, and had the company that made them for the liquor producers ship them some of the same bottles. Many globes of 700s have turned up with "LIQUOR BOTTLE" embossed on the underside of the glass. The globes of many 800s are embossed "750 ML. (25.4 FL. OZ.) " on the lower edge on both sides. Only liquor bottles are routinely marked in this way. The tops taper, with a neck and a screw-on cap. Some later models' caps have a date sticker on top, and some are wrapped with a sticker warning the user not to open the lamp, as the contents were "under pressure" - in reality untrue, though GemLites should not be opened. All that aside, they are beautiful lamps, though sometimes a bit wobbly due to their small footprint, especially if heat has warped the plastic bottom plate. In the 700 and 800 GemLite models, lamps have been found with either large or small square glitters. Cylindrical bottle GemLites only used small glitter.

The Mystique, model 700
"Square and smart; its simplicity makes it one of the most sophisticated styles in our line"
This interesting new style had a 3" square cross-section, and was 14" tall. The base and top were brushed aluminum finish. The ends (bottom and top) are black plastic. The top fits over the bottle, and the black plastic end plate snaps into the top. There are internal bottle supports. It used a 30 watt intermediate (C-9) bulb.

#702 Orange / Yellow
#703 Green / Blue
#706 Red / Clear
GemLite #750

The Continental, model 800
"A new version of the ever-popular Lava Lite in a highly stylized, oval-shaped brushed aluminum base with matching cap"

(Note by author: Please note reuse of both model numbers of discontinued models, such as the 300 and 500, and reuse of names, such as this one)
This was a companion lamp to the 700, having the same metal finish, construction, and end caps. The bottle was a 6" wide by 3" deep oval, and the entire lamp was 14" tall. The viewing area of the bottle was slightly shorter vertically than the 700, and the edges of the metal at the top and bottom where it meets the glass were cut at angles. Facing the broad side of the lamp, the bottle view area was roughly the shape of a rhombus, with straight sides and the upper and lower sides cut at a matching gentle slope. The oval bottle used two small, circular heat coils side by side. It. too, used a 30-watt intermediate (C-9) bulb.

#802 Orange / Yellow
#803 Green / Blue
#806 Red / Clear
GemLite #850
 
The other lamps offered with GemLite globes were the Mediterranean and (see below) The Capri and Confetti.
 
This nice, simple model was essentially a Consort globe/cap set into a straight cylinder base, set on a short narrow cone. It was offered in gold or silver finish. The base cylinder had no "hips" or wider section near the top to seat the bottle into; instead, there were internal supports.
Orange / Yellow
Green / Blue
Red / Clear
Capri variants: Silver model with slide switch in vertical slot on the base.
Parody lamps: It's unknown whether these were factory, or whether they were bought, modified and resold. Silver finish with a GemLite globe, the base cylinder is printed with a faux beer or soda can logo, either "Coorz" beer or "11-Up" soda, with a lot of humorous small print.
 
The Astro Lava Lite, model 2500
"A new celestial version of the ever-popular Lava Lite, with three shiny brass "astral" bands encircling the base"
This pretty and rare model used the same globe/cap as The Consort, set in a straight cylinder. This sat on a 1/2" tall, 4" dia. support. Encircling the base, the "three" bands were actually one single band of gold-tone metal perhaps 1/2" wide, bent around the base in a three and a half turn coil. This coil stood 1/2" away from the cylinder all around. It was attached to the base by short posts, one directly above the other on the base, with goldtone "buttons" on the face of the band, an inch from each end. The upper post's screw also held an internal ring which supported the globe. The cylinder sat on a wide, round, 1/2" tall pedestal. The rest of the base was brushed silver, and the cap was gold-tone "to match the 'astral' bands". This model stood 13" tall. The metalwork on this lamp is of unusually high quality.
#2502 Orange / Yellow
#2503 Green / Blue
#2506 Red / Clear
 
The Confetti, model 650

The only model offered only as a GemLite. A Consort bottle in a gently flared base, which had a 'pinch' near the top to support the globe. Satin silver finish with a metallic painted silver cap. 

A note on colors: At the beginning of the 1970s, 02 was still orange wax in golden liquid. By the mid-70s, however, the lava had become dark red like the 06 red/clear. It was still noted as "orange/yellow" in catalogs. Similar changes occurred with green/blue as the lava went from rich grass green to mint green (sometimes identified in sales sheets as "sage green") and finally to cream. The cream lava tended to "cook" with use into an amber or even a rootbeer color, and the liquid tended to fade, so many 03 globes have become amber, cream or brown lava in clear liquid! If you see a Carlisle or Enchantress Planter with any color from cream to light brown in clear, you're looking at an ex-green/blue. Also, for unknown reasons, some green/blue Century globes around 1971-74 have a tendency to turn into a murky green-brown full of air bubbles in a hazy yellowish liquid.


Got questions, additions, changes, suggestions? Email me at KitDaKat@aol.com!

Info about The Nordic courtesy of Kyle Goo. Info about Aladdin's Lamp variations courtesy of WeeboTech. Thanks a lot!

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