Victorian Tumbler Lights

Victorian Tumbler lights come in a variety of styles or shapes and a wide spectrum colors. The lights were manufactured in Europe and the United States mainly during the decades before and after 1900. The lights were used for many indoor and outdoor events such as garden parties, theatres, coronations and holidays.

The lights are blown or molded glass vessels hung with a bale or wire which fastens around a rim at the top of the glass. Sometimes holes are pierced for the wire bale. Most lights have a flat base and could be set on a surface rather than suspended by the bale. However, many do not and must be hung to use. The lights are lit with a candle or a wick floated in oil.

Collectors call the most common style “diamond quilt”. These range in size but most are about 3.5 inches tall. The color is in the glass with clear, amber, green, amethyst and cobalt blue being most common. However, the range in hues of these and the other colors keep collectors fascinated. Other colors include white, blue, and green milk glass, red and cranberry. In some rare cases clear lights were painted red.

American glassmakers produced thousand eye, hobnail and several other styles. These tend to be larger lights, about four inches tall. The scarce miniature hobnail lights are about two inches tall. The thousand eye lights are sometimes opalescent glass.

England produced several figural lights including grape clusters, tulips, and the heads of Queen Victoria for her diamond jubilee in 1897, her son Edward’s coronation in 1901, and George and his wife Mary, in 1910. Some lights have “cameos” of Victoria or VR or a shield. These royalty lights and rare red and cranberry art glass lights are the most highly prized by collectors.