Rago’s 20th Century auction antique tortoise lamp is a unique find

Maybe it was the tortoise that won the race? Unlucky for him but lucky for us.
Cleaveland tortise shell lamp.jpg
The rare copper and tortoise shell desk lamp being offered as Lot 49 in David Rago’s Jan. 16 auction of early 20th Century design is beautiful for a 100 reasons. It’s curved neck and leaf-patterned base share a beautiful amount of patination that is hard to come by in some lamps, not to mention the attractive mounting of a diminuative tortoise shell shade. The shell gives off a mica-hued glow that would look at home on a worn desk in dark, woodwork-lined den. The lamp is just 9-1/2 inches tall by 5-1/2 inches wide. It carries a pre-auction estimate of $2,000 to $3,000.

For such stunning craftsmanship, there is precious little information on the Internet about its maker, Henry W. Cleaveland.

Cleaveland, of Boston, wrote a book, it seems, titled “Village and Farm Cottages” in 1856. Technically, the full name of the volume is “Village and Farm Cottages: The Requirements of American Village Homes Considered and Suggested; With Designs for Such Houses of Moderate Cost.” He also lent some critique to various forms of design of the day.

Lucky for us he knew quality when he saw it … leaving us this gorgeous lamp as a reminder that good design is never resigned to a single era.

If anyone has more information about Cleaveland, feel free to share.

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