Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Went to a bunch of thrift/antique stores today. Look!

But I didn't buy anything.  :(

I saw these at an antique store in Davenport. I had always wanted to see these in person, but they were in AWFUL shape. All around $200, too. Why would these be so much?

Price: $178. Said year 1958. That's wrong, right?


Price: $178. Said 1950s style.



Price: $178. Also said "1950s style".


Price: $295. Read "Approx 1960s"


Couple of other oldies. really awful shape:



And saw a giant? Grande? China lamp though. And cloudy.


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Yes, you're correct. Coal Valley. Nothing there of interest (maybe you got them all? LOL). I didn't find the prices to be bad, but it's such a HUGE place to look through. I was most disappointed in Riverbend antiques. Such cool, old lamps in horrible shape for wayyyyyy too much money!

I think my best bet is going to be eBay. It was a tiring day and I didn't come home with one lamp. We visited at least six stores, too.
What does F.A. mean?

What should those lamps go for, given the condition I saw them in?
Holy cow, those are cool! Thanks for the link!
I thought I had seen some overpriced lava lamps but wow you found something special. You should offer $10 a lamp and see what they say. Maybe you can find out why they think their stuff is worth over $100 each.
My guess is these things will sit in there until the end of time. They are junk. I wouldn't take them if they were free. Ok, maybe if they were free. Someone priced them years ago and they'll just sit there...forever.
Whoa! Ok, so maybe these weren't priced incorrectly then? They just seemed like such junk. Would have been fun to revive them if they were cheaper.
If you buy the FA lamps you might consider polishing them with blue magic metal polish. It could possibly turn out as clean looking as bohdans.
No way I'm paying $200 for those things!
I'll go down the list. Just my opinions...
The first lamp shown is a Consort, circa nineteen SIXTY eight (plastic base - earlier 1966-67 ones use wood) and is a good candidate for refilling, but not at that price. At $40 or less, oh yes. If it DOES flow, it's worth a good $100 - the plastic base cleans up nicely, and Consorts and others with the same globe are prone to "consort syndrome" where the wax density changes somehow and it all floats to the top. Orange/yellow is a rare color for these. NO lava lamps of ANY kind EVER were on the market earlier than 1963 (UK) and 1965 (USA).

If the Florence Art Astro-Lite lamps were $50, I'd buy 'em. I love these. I have the black-based version of this Mediterranean-style model. In a dark room, with their champagne bubble slow action, they're stunning, and they make great night lights. There are two different size globes, multiple models with increasingly fancy designs, and some have two bottles, with or without a wooden or plaster central column, or even three bottles, in a row on a wooden pedestal like a Consort or clustered on a metal base. Yes, you could probably clean these up (Bohdan may be able to give you advice) and get a great amount for them on eBay, especially with shots of them in action. The clear-liquid one can be 'boosted' with (transparent only - "ceramic" translucent bulbs are too dark) colored light bulbs for different effects. A dark blue bulb in a well-lit room will let it reflect the room's light.

The Lava Coach Lantern is actually rather rare. This one is the uncommon in-between model, made (in the US, it is believed) after Lava-Simplex quit selling Crestworth lanterns made in the UK, but before they developed the simplified US models seen most commonly. These have a very brassy satin finish, unlike the polished copper on the Crestworth and the later US models, with an unfinished copper bail, side rods and faux kerosene fill cap. It might be worth close to or over $150, even with the bad globe - and if the globe still flows, despite being cloudy, orange/yellow is rare in 1960s and 70s lamps. In the mid-70s, what was still called orange/yellow began to use dark red wax like the red/clear.

That Aristocrat and Enchantress look absolutely awful. And someone recapped the Enchantress with...what the heck IS that thing? $195 and $125 are outrageously high for either of those. In their condition, I would say $10 and $8. And you can tell the seller that from someone who's been collecting for 20 years.

Cloudy Grande is worth $15 IF you're already looking for a good candidate for a refill.

I rarely see lamps in antique shops in that poor a condition. The most common vintage lamps I see are red/yellow Aristocrats and Centuries in the $60-125 range. The sellers will just hold them, assured of their value, until someone shows them otherwise. Show them this page if you can - otherwise, they'll think you're just another bargain hunter trying to haggle them down.
Wow! Thanks for all that info! Very much appreciated.
Gorgeous! Where did you get yours?
Yes. Offer them less, and either print out or (if the sellers are in the store and there's a computer) show them this thread. The prices I listed are what I, personally as a collector, would pay for each, but different collectors will value them differently. It's my opinion that, unless you're desperate for one of these models (and very few if any are desperate enough to pay these prices) the prices I listed are probably maximum values. The Florence Arts are priced a teeny bit high - I paid a reasonable $60 for a black one of the same scrolled model recently - and the rest are priced way too high.

Unless the seller(s) are willing to sit on them for years on the off-chance that someone will consider these prices, which is unlikely in the extreme, I think they should accept that they overvalued them and chop the prices down. Way down. The rarest lava shown is the Consort, and even so a better example than this will show up on eBay regularly - I'd put it at a 5 on the 1-to-10 rarity scale. I'd pay $178 for a Continental candle lamp, a Princess or Empress, a Child's Night Lite (clown-on-bottle Consort), an Executive (desk set Consort) or a Regency/Royal (giant Consort) in this condition. Wood-based Consort in this shape, add $15 or so - $55 is reasonable in this shape.

I'd also suggest testing the Consort. Put a 15-watt "sewing machine" type bulb in it, intermediate/C-9 base, and give it 40 minutes. If the wax all floats to the top, or doesn't move, it's a dud globe and worth about $15. Worth it for refilling, but the seller needs to also know that refilling costs money and requires some tinkering - it isn't a simple, cheap job, you can't just melt some wax and pour in colored water. Same with the Coach - put in a 40-watt appliance bulb and wait an hour. If it doesn't blob, or floats to the top, I'd pay $30 for it.

There's next to nothing that can go wrong with the Florence Arts unless you monkey with the liquid. It is said to be glycerin and a few other things, but it has a sort of weak wine or brandy smell and no one seems certain exactly what it is - the glitter is extremely thin aluminum shreds, like gold-leaf thin. Don't use over a ten-watt bulb in these, and a 7-watt is enough to get them going in about 30 seconds. Give the bottle a shake first if you want quick all-over action; otherwise, turn them on as-is and watch the glitter march up the middle of the bottle and rain down the sides. They needn't get $$$ in their eyes with Bohdan's comment about his Florence Arts, which came with the original hang tags and underwent a load of cleaning and fixing up.

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