• Vintage Virden lighting — 52 page catalog from 1959

    retro-back-yard-lightingLet's-decorate-1959Wow — 52 pages of vintage lighting in this delightfully illustrated Virden Lighting Catalog from 1959. Virden was one of the big name manufacturers of lighting in mid century modern America. Moe and Lightolier are two of our other favorites.  This big catalog covers all types of lighting — for kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, hallways, dining rooms, porch and patio — every part of the house. I was amazed by the variety of styles available — and even recognized a few models from the many stashes of New Old Stock and vintage lighting that we’ve featured here on Retro Renovation. Read on to see some of my favorite designs — and for a slide show of the complete 52-page catalog from 1959 –>

    Mid-century-pull-down-lightBaM PoW — these glorious vintage lights may make you see stars — and are sure to light up the house while adding some great mid century style too.

    mid-century-flush-ceiling-lightsThe pair above reminds me of some of the recently releasted ceiling lights from Rejuvenation – do you suppose this set of ceiling lights was an inspiration for their new collection?

    mid-century-flush-pinhole-lightAnother light that looked somewhat familiar to me — the chrome, pin hole flush mount light above — similar to the model I have hanging in my hallway that is original to my house – though mine has several larger glass covered holes instead of just the tiny pin holes. Don’t you love how everything seemed to come in chrome, gold and copper back then? It is so hard to find anything in copper these days — let alone a cool light like this one.

    mid-century-diningroom-chandelierThis catalog shows how the variety of lighting fixture styles can be utilized in different areas of the house — and who doesn’t love illustrations of mid century homes?

    mid-century-boys-bedroomI hope this little boy is careful not to knock into the fabulous hanging pendant lights while rough housing with dad.

    Mid-century-girls-bedroomAnd here in a more calm scene, this mother and daughter play with the doll under the soft light of some bowtie wall sconces and a double saucer shaped ceiling light.

    Vintage-Virden-wall-sconcesThe catalog has several unusual sconces — check out the ceiling mount sconces in the upper row. And there’s that bow tie sconce from the previous page — modern with a hint of softness in the flowery crystal glass. We see these lights often on ebay. Sometimes pricey — but sometimes not. Keep your eyes on Pam’s ebay carousels — she is always watching out for the best in vintage lighting.

    Virden-lighting-kids-roomWhat’s with all the rowdy kids jumping on beds in this catalog? I’m sure that was never allowed at my house growing up — and  watch out — little Susie’s foot is going to kick the cool vintage bullet light sconce.

    Mid-century-burlap-lightsI like the “burlap like” texture on the fibre glass (their spelling) shades above — the catalog mentions it as an Oriental influence.

    Mid-century-living-roomI’ll take one of everything from this page, please — love the green chair in combination with the gold pinch pleat drapes and the atomic chandelier hanging overhead.

    mid-century-chandelier-gold-pin-hole-virden

    This also came in a single pendant light. The diffuser under the metal cone shade would have been frosted glass — these were lovely, quality light fixture. If you buy vintage, though, always get the wiring checked by a properly licensed professional.

    retro-living-room-staircaseHere is the single version, used in a living room setting and direct lighting for reading on the couch.

    mid-century-chandelier-lights-virdenHere are a few more delightful pendant lamps. The one on the far left is a pull-down light — the most narrow I’ve ever seen, at a mere 11 inches wide.

    mid-century-living-room-spring-lightLook at this great living room scene — mother and father getting ready to go out to dinner — but what are those lights hanging down from the ceiling on telephone cord-like springs?  Hmmmmm.

    pull-down-pinhole-lights-mid-century-virdenHere’s a closer look — the “spring” appears to be part of a pull-down mechanism — neat.

    retro-kitchen-with-pull-down-lightIf you thought pull-down lights belong in the kitchen — Virden has you covered there, too. Here’s a more typical placement of a pull-down light — over the kitchen table in this charming modern kitchen. Note: We’ve been told that pulldown lights like these are no longer to code; again — consult with a properly licensed professional to make an informed decision how to handle.

    Mid-Century-under-soffit-lighitngThe placement of this light fixture — in a soffit in some sort of decorative, built-in nook — seems very ingenious — it makes the nook even more of a focal point.

    Look! Is the light above, which is for sale right now on the ‘bay — a variation of the Virden light in the flowered nook? *ebay affiliate link

    mid-century-rec-room-with-flush-lightingRecessed lighting won’t get in your way when it’s time for a fast-paced game of ping pong in the basement.

    retro-back-yard-lightingOf course, these recessed fixtures are perfect to pop into the eaves on the outside of the hous,e too — and the gold rims look so nice with the coordinating post and sconce lights.

    mid-century-wall-sconces-outdoorThere are several mid century cool outdoor sconces in this catalog — my favorite is the middle one in the illustration above.

    Wodabar-light-kit-vintage-virden-lighting The most interesting product in the catalog is the Wondabar kit, which appears to be a way to customize their standard chandeliers to suit your needs and taste. Wunderbar! to the Wondabar!

    Thanks to the fantabulous MJB Collection on archive.org for making this vintage catalog available via Creative Commons License.

    Buy vintage Virden lighting


    We see quite a bit of vintage Virden on sale online. Above: What’s currently on ebay *affiliate link.

    SeeAllOurVintageCatalogsSMALLAll 52 pages of the catalog can be seen in their entirety — twice as large — in the slide show below. Enjoy.

    Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:

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    Comments

    1. Eye candy, supreme!!!! Hopefully, Rejuvination will bring back some of these styles. In particular for me, the ones in the 8th and 10th photos make me swoon.

      Just brings such joy to view these pictures. Thank you, Kate!

    2. I do-love illustrations of mid century homes! And I love printing them out for decoration of my craftroom. It’s OK if I do that, isn’t it?

    3. Beautiful. Thank you. But I don’t think Mom and Dad are going out; looks like little Davie’s older sister is going to the prom, and showing off her dress. Dad’s so amazed he drops his paper. Naturally, he’s still wearing his suit from working, because why would he change?

    4. Thank you, Kate. My morning is much brighter after viewing these vintage fixtures. MCM lighting is one of my passions, whether it’s stationary fixtures or lamps. Functional art; can’t beat it.

      I have a bath which has a variation of the light bars shown in the catalog on either side of its mirror. One day, I might submit a photo and see if any of our enlightened RR readers can help me identify them. They’re quite long and take flourescent bulbs.

    5. the lights are gorgeous! but I also love the family graphics, so much more cheerful and realistic than most catalogs now!

    6. One of the things I covet is one of the push-up/pull-down dining room lights. I want it in my sewing room over the work area. The lighting in this catalog are just wonderful.

    7. Sarah g (roundhouse) says:

      We’ve got v-6320/22 in our rental house! I love that little light! It’s positioned above the toilet lol.
      I also love the illustrations. The 50s really kept graphic designers and artists busy. And the fact that none of it was digital gives it a warmth and realness that’s unparalleled. I wish there were as many commercial opportunities for artists today that still work with just paint and paper

    8. I need the square recessed lights in the worst way. We cant find any with the clear lens.

      Diane
      Honey Stop The Car Vintage

    9. I would kill for some of these pieces..! I have found several vintage lighting fixtures in thrift stores or that I have “rescused” from remodeling projects I’ve done. In fact, I have lots of the “square” recessed cans that I will be installing in several locations throughout our own house. It’s really sad to think that such timeless style gave way to much of the hideousness that passes for lighting fixtures today… :-(

      • Mark, Would you mind revealing where you found the square recessed??? We have been looking for them with clear lenses.

        Thanks much, Diane

        • Diane,
          I removed & saved them from a remodeling project on a large 1960 duplex. They are original Halo H1′s. I have found that they’re still carried by Grainger, although they may need to be ordered. H1 is the std can, H1IC is the airtight that can be buried in insulation. They sell the trims separately, I think you mean the glass one w/ the circles. The only thing is I believe the trim frames are white. I’m using hammer-finish paint on mine… You can contact me directly by clicking on my name…

    10. Wonderful!! Why doesn’t someone just take this catalogue and reproduce all these designs. We really do need square and rectangle recessed lights with more than just the white trim that you find today.

    11. Kate, I was laughing at your comments about the kids jumping up and down on the furniture. Don’t those kids know those fixtures will be worth a lot of money 5o years later? I cringe when I see TV commercials showing kids jumping on the furniture, it just wasn’t allowed. Thanks for this post. Sure would love one of those flush mount fixtures over the kitchen table.

    12. For all of us who are “older”, that living room scene (with the balcony) looks like the Danny Thomas Show set :-)

      • Ha! You are so right!! And about pull-down lights not being code nowadays….I guess it’s a wonder my siblings and I survived to adulthood with our pull-down over the kitchen table. And no seat belts. And no bike helmets.

      • Robin, NV says:

        My first thought was – that’s my Uncle Cliff’s house! I’d love to see that house again with my fresh perspective on mid century stuff. Cliff built it in the 1960s. It’s up at Lake Tahoe on an acre, the property must be worth a mint now.

    13. These are wonderful – it seems for the size of the fixtures they have more bulbs than something today – I was surprised to see that some of them took 3 or even 4 60w or some 75w vs 1 or 2 60w we’d see today.

      But I guess my dining room drum does take 3 come to think of it!

      • Back in the day, these fixtures were the primary source of lighting for many of the rooms they were installed in. Nowadays new construction has task lighting under the cabinets and recessed low volt. lights in the ceilings. With the changes in lighting taking place, some day incandescent light fixtures will probably go away all together, hopefully no time soon.

    14. Wow! I have the V1040 – pull down “fibre” glass shade lamp. My grandparents had an adorable mid century home and this hung in the living room. Now it hangs in the living room of my mid century home! (over the same MC couch that it did in their house!) So glad to have found out what it is that I have!

    15. We had the square recessed fixture with brass trim in our entryway when I was a child. To change the light bulb, you pulled down on the trim and the trim/glass lense would slide away from the ceiling 4″ or so while being held on with wires. While hanging down away from the ceiling, you could reach in through the gap to get to the bulb then, when done, shove it all back up tight to the ceiling. We moved into the house when it was new in 1964.

    16. We have the recessed chrome-trimmed glass plate lights (in square, instead of rectangle) in all the bedrooms, all original, and all very awkwardly placed in the room.

    17. Sadly over the years I found some of these in basements of parsonage where we lived, and did not rescue them! Back in the 70s and 80s there were being replaced with chandeliers. (The kind that look SO dated now, LOL!)

    18. These make me sooooooo wish that we could still use this catalog. I couldn’t pick a favorite if I tried.

    19. How is the pull down light “not to code”? Is it because you could hit your head on it? Which doesn’t make sense since you can retract it to not bump into. We had one in my childhood home.

    20. love love love many

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