Two unconventional lamps at an estate sale intrigued David. I didn’t give them a second look. While they didn’t match, he was captivated by them as pieces of sculpture. Safe to say, they came home with us.
David discovered the wooden bases were repurposed print rollers used to produce fabric and wallpaper in Denmark. The trademark on one lamp identifies the manufacturer as Dahls Tapet of Copenhagen, Denmark.
In old French the word tapet means carpet. The Danish word tapet translates, in this case, to fabric or wallpaper.
Dahls Tapet remains a venerable Danish company with a long history.
It is more than years since the first Dahl – Andreas Frederik Dahl – made its debut in the wallpaper industry.
In 160 years, the family Dahl has been the benchmark in the wall covering by showing boldness, not least when it comes to fashion, colors and trends. We have seen the writing on the wall.
Our collections are composed so that they show a versatile, forward-looking and, above all, an exciting selection and – of course – the more traditional wallpapers.
Someone, perhaps a hardy Dane, sat in Copenhagen on a cold winter day, transforming wallpaper-design rollers into bases for lamps. His work Complicated matters for us, because our Danish friend wired the lamps for Europe’s electrical current.
WorthPoint sold these five bases by Dahls Tapet in 2006 and dated them between 1960 – 1965. I assume ours are from the same period.
The rollers are constructed from heavy strips of wood, teak or oak, and they’re hollow. Brass inserts form the backbone of the pattern. Within each brass outline is heavy felt or cork. This felt or cork held ink that marked the fabric or wallpaper as it passed by the roller.
Each lamp contains a hidden steel camber (ring) on top of the cylinder. The cambers allowed the roller to operate smoothly on a spindle. The process of creating wallpaper or fabric required several rollers, bearing different parts of the pattern, to be transferred. This resulted in a printed sheet of wallpaper or fabric, the tapet.
Our neighbor, Anne, an interior designer and professional wallpaper installer extraordinaire, immediately recognized their original purpose. The brass directional arrows delineated the correct direction to hang the paper. You may recall that David and I painted Anne’s antique piano with Annie Sloan Chalk paint.
Making Wallpaper and Fabrics
This 1968 British film demonstrates the printing process. Probably Dahls Tapet used a similar technique. The use of rollers appears at the 2:42 mark on the film.
David Explains Electricity
I left the original European style connector with its two round prongs plug on one of the lamps and added a U.S. standard adapter for electrical outlet compatibility.
I inserted LED bulbs made for our standard 110v power source. Why LED? I’m happy you asked.
Those of you who travel know that U.S. electrical appliances, such as hair driers, will not work correctly in other countries. The electrical service standard varies from country to country. Their appliances and even light bulbs are made differently and some have different sized bases. For instance, a standard U.S. lightbulb base is classified as E26 (26 mm). An E27 (27mm) is standard for most of Europe.
I mention this because we had difficulty finding an off-the-shelf Energy Saving bulb to work in the lamp. The CFL bulbs didn’t work.
I took apart the lamp fixture on both lamps to make sure the electrical cord was supplying electricity. Next, I used a multimeter set to measure AC voltage and touched its attached positive/negative tips to the bottom button in the base of the lamp and the side wall of the lamp.
One point for the good guys. It registered 110v.
I recommend steady hands. If you haven’t worked with electricity before, I assume someone else will handle your electrical wiring. I have a healthy respect for electricity. Like snakes. Let it flow — but not through me. Unfortunately, I haven’t been completely successful in maintaining that maxim.
I tested several working CFL bulbs but none of them lit, so inserted an LED bulb and switched on the lamp. Just as Mr. Edison and Mr. Tesla envisioned, light beat back the darkness, literally and figuratively.
I imagine a Danish electrician wired these lamps using the E27 standard lamp base, but the pitch and depth of thread on U.S. E26 LED lamps allowed the bulb’s bottom to seat on the base contact as well as the metal sides of the fixture. The electrical cords connected to two terminals inside the fixture, one on the bottom and one on the metal shell.
Danish Design History
David gets all the credit for his attraction to the artful design of these lamps. Let’s face it: they’re a part Danish design history. I love that design and industry intersected with Iris Abbey. We base our business model on finding and restoring the best examples of vintage and Mid-Century Modern furniture.
The formerly functional rollers — industrial components of decorative design — transform into highly decorative lamps for a contemporary, vibrant home. As with all of our furniture, we hope to give items a second, third, or fourth chance to infuse the living spaces of new generations.
One last look: this time seeing the lamps are in our crowded booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.
Thanks for stopping by. We love to read your comments.
Ann Marie and David