Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Hey all,

Early 70s models switch to a solid, but seamed, base and a brass color which often fades to silver. From the late 70s onward, a brass finish was used that did not fade. Starting in the mid 90s, black and satin silver versions were produced.

Considering purchasing a silver base Century 100 model and need some advice as this is a new hobby for me. The listing title is "Vintage Underwriters Laboratory, " with a silver base and top.

 In the Lava Library here it states that "Early 70s models switch to a solid, but seamed, base and a brass color which often fades to silver. From the late 70s onward, a brass finish was used that did not fade. Starting in the mid 90s, black and satin silver versions were produced."

So, my question is this: Is there any way to tell whether the lamp I am considering is an early 70s model whose brass base faded to silver or a mid 1990's one that is a satin silver version? Thanks!

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One way to tell may be by looking at how the globe is sealed. Older Centuries used a screw on cap, while more modern ones have a traditional bottle cap with a decorative cap over the top. Additionally, if it is a screw cap, the finish may have faded on the base, but not the screw cap; look to see if its a silver colored base with brass colored screw cap on the globe.

Hm so if it is in fact early 70's the cap should screw off? Just by hand? Or do you need a tool?

The top of my much later 1997 Midnight Century seems to be unremovable by hand, at least. I was hoping to easily take it off to confirm the more modern bottle cap.

Also, the cap itself is silver, so its looking less likely it was an early 70's brass one that faded.

You are a font of information! Thanks so much : ) There's so much more I need to learn


Jim said:

One way to tell may be by looking at how the globe is sealed. Older Centuries used a screw on cap, while more modern ones have a traditional bottle cap with a decorative cap over the top. Additionally, if it is a screw cap, the finish may have faded on the base, but not the screw cap; look to see if its a silver colored base with brass colored screw cap on the globe.

Yea, don't brute force that cap off, it will be an absolute devil to find a replacement for.

Below are two example Silver Centuries, one with a screw cap and one with a modern bottle cap + decorative silver cap. In the 2nd lamp, that metal cap should lift right off with absolutely no effort, revealing the bottle cap beneath.



M said:

Hm so if it is in fact early 70's the cap should screw off? Just by hand? Or do you need a tool?

The top of my much later 1997 Midnight Century seems to be unremovable by hand, at least. I was hoping to easily take it off to confirm the more modern bottle cap.

Also, the cap itself is silver, so its looking less likely it was an early 70's brass one that faded.

You are a font of information! Thanks so much : ) There's so much more I need to learn


Jim said:

One way to tell may be by looking at how the globe is sealed. Older Centuries used a screw on cap, while more modern ones have a traditional bottle cap with a decorative cap over the top. Additionally, if it is a screw cap, the finish may have faded on the base, but not the screw cap; look to see if its a silver colored base with brass colored screw cap on the globe.

Also around what year do they switch from screw off cap to the traditional beer bottle cap? Thanks

M said:

Hm so if it is in fact early 70's the cap should screw off? Just by hand? Or do you need a tool?

The top of my much later 1997 Midnight Century seems to be unremovable by hand, at least. I was hoping to easily take it off to confirm the more modern bottle cap.

Also, the cap itself is silver, so its looking less likely it was an early 70's brass one that faded.

You are a font of information! Thanks so much : ) There's so much more I need to learn


Jim said:

One way to tell may be by looking at how the globe is sealed. Older Centuries used a screw on cap, while more modern ones have a traditional bottle cap with a decorative cap over the top. Additionally, if it is a screw cap, the finish may have faded on the base, but not the screw cap; look to see if its a silver colored base with brass colored screw cap on the globe.

A slightly different comparison between globes.

Aha! I see. Extremely helpful, thank you. Your info is already helping me narrow down and be more aware of the pieces I've been considering.

Bit off topic, but the top to my 1997 Midnight century will not come off at all. I'd assume it'd come off easily, revealing the bottle cap underneath. To your knowledge, do the tops to these much newer ones come off at all? Or are they glued or affixed somehow?

A million thanks

Jim said:

A slightly different comparison between globes.

I believe they transitioned from screw caps to bottle caps around 1995. Try this link: Lava Lite Identification


M said:

Also around what year do they switch from screw off cap to the traditional beer bottle cap? Thanks

M said:

Hm so if it is in fact early 70's the cap should screw off? Just by hand? Or do you need a tool?

The top of my much later 1997 Midnight Century seems to be unremovable by hand, at least. I was hoping to easily take it off to confirm the more modern bottle cap.

Also, the cap itself is silver, so its looking less likely it was an early 70's brass one that faded.

You are a font of information! Thanks so much : ) There's so much more I need to learn


Jim said:

One way to tell may be by looking at how the globe is sealed. Older Centuries used a screw on cap, while more modern ones have a traditional bottle cap with a decorative cap over the top. Additionally, if it is a screw cap, the finish may have faded on the base, but not the screw cap; look to see if its a silver colored base with brass colored screw cap on the globe.

No, they come off easily; you should be able to literally flick it off the top of the globe as if you were playing Polish Football.

I will offer one potential explanation. Some caps have three small tabs centered in the top of the cap, that are intended to "hug" the sides of the bottle cap on three sides and keep the cap straight. That cap should still lift right up unless someone applied some adhesive to the tabs to pretty much glue it to the bottle cap. Whoever did that should be forced to drink the contents of the globe. Unless it was you of course; then we'll just say you shouldn't have done that.

M said:

Aha! I see. Extremely helpful, thank you. Your info is already helping me narrow down and be more aware of the pieces I've been considering.

Bit off topic, but the top to my 1997 Midnight century will not come off at all. I'd assume it'd come off easily, revealing the bottle cap underneath. To your knowledge, do the tops to these much newer ones come off at all? Or are they glued or affixed somehow?

A million thanks

Jim said:

A slightly different comparison between globes.

Gotcha. I will be sure to study the Lava Lite ID document to limit all these questions I'm asking!

Bit off topic, but the top to my 1997 Midnight century will not come off at all. I'd assume it'd come off easily, revealing the bottle cap underneath. To your knowledge, do the tops to these much newer ones come off at all? Or are they glued or affixed somehow?

Nope, shouldn't be affixed. That bottle cap seals up the globe tight as a drum, so the top cap really isn't functional, just decorative. I did offer one theory above; that someone may have applied adhesive to the decorative cap to seal it permanently to the bottle cap. Not the best thing to do as some collectors like to swap out bottles. 

M said:

Gotcha. I will be sure to study the Lava Lite ID document to limit all these questions I'm asking!

Bit off topic, but the top to my 1997 Midnight century will not come off at all. I'd assume it'd come off easily, revealing the bottle cap underneath. To your knowledge, do the tops to these much newer ones come off at all? Or are they glued or affixed somehow?

Oh shit, I missed your previous message about the top on the Midnight being potentially glued/affixed, since in theory it should just sit on top. Yeah, it is very firmly on there. And haha, no, it wasn't me who glued it so I fully support the offender being forced to drink the contents of the globe lol!

My 1975 Carlisle top is also firmly affixed too. Unremovable. I know we're talking Centuries specifically so Carlisle is potentially different? Idk. I bought that one from a gentleman who had owned it since new and it had been in storage for years, so I'd be surprised if it was tampered with.

Are these early screw on tops only seen in Centuries or across the board for earlier ones?

Jim said:

Nope, shouldn't be affixed. That bottle cap seals up the globe tight as a drum, so the top cap really isn't functional, just decorative. I did offer one theory above; that someone may have applied adhesive to the decorative cap to seal it permanently to the bottle cap. Not the best thing to do as some collectors like to swap out bottles. 

M said:

Gotcha. I will be sure to study the Lava Lite ID document to limit all these questions I'm asking!

Bit off topic, but the top to my 1997 Midnight century will not come off at all. I'd assume it'd come off easily, revealing the bottle cap underneath. To your knowledge, do the tops to these much newer ones come off at all? Or are they glued or affixed somehow?

There were 32 ounce screw tops as well, like the Carlisle, as well as earlier midnights, the Aztec, etc.

One thing to remember about these screw tops, is you're dealing with a lamp that's been sealed for at least 25 years. A wee bit of lube may be needed to loosen up 25 years of accumulated gunk in the threads.

M said:

Oh shit, I missed your previous message about the top on the Midnight being potentially glued/affixed, since in theory it should just sit on top. Yeah, it is very firmly on there. And haha, no, it wasn't me who glued it so I fully support the offender being forced to drink the contents of the globe lol!

My 1975 Carlisle top is also firmly affixed too. Unremovable. I know we're talking Centuries specifically so Carlisle is potentially different? Idk. I bought that one from a gentleman who had owned it since new and it had been in storage for years, so I'd be surprised if it was tampered with.

Are these early screw on tops only seen in Centuries or across the board for earlier ones?

Jim said:

Nope, shouldn't be affixed. That bottle cap seals up the globe tight as a drum, so the top cap really isn't functional, just decorative. I did offer one theory above; that someone may have applied adhesive to the decorative cap to seal it permanently to the bottle cap. Not the best thing to do as some collectors like to swap out bottles. 

M said:

Gotcha. I will be sure to study the Lava Lite ID document to limit all these questions I'm asking!

Bit off topic, but the top to my 1997 Midnight century will not come off at all. I'd assume it'd come off easily, revealing the bottle cap underneath. To your knowledge, do the tops to these much newer ones come off at all? Or are they glued or affixed somehow?

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