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Bo Sullivan identifies my vintage pull-down kitchen light

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Kitchen photo: Copyright Kit Latham.

1959-vintage-imperialite-kitchen-light1One of the highlights of my recent visit to Rejuvenation Lighting in Portland was when historian Bo Sullivan was able to — immediately — identify the vintage pulldown light over my kitchen table. I don’t think I’ve told this story before: One Friday afternoon after a hard day’s work — when I was driving home – I got the idea that I needed a vintage light NOW. This was when I was putting the final details of my kitchen together before contractor Kevin started. So as soon as I got home, I jumped on ebay and with 12 minutes to go spotted the light shown here above the tulip table. Of course, I snapped it up – for $12. Bo knows lighting – he knew exactly who made the light and showed it to me in a catalog —>

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Ta da!: It’s a 1959 Imperialite, made by Emerson-Imperial.

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The date on this catalog is Sept. 15, 1959. Hey, my light is 50 years old this year: Like Barbie, and me!

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Aren’t these all swoon-able?

Note: I also have been told that pull-down lights like these are no longer to code — that’s why you don’t see them for sale any more. I am not an expert, so if you have a light like this, consult with a professional to assess the situation so that you can make informed decisions. Also, when working with old lights, a pro can also help you assess the wiring situation. For more info see my Renovate Safe page.

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Here’s Bo with another catalog. Over the past 15 years, Bo has been collecting vintage marketing material from 20th century lighting companies. The collection is AMAZING. Rejuvenation is in the process of moving the collection from the factory… over to the store. There, it will be accessible to customers as a research and inspiration resource. And guess what – there’s a latte bar at the store, too. Now, that’s all I need to be happy: Good coffee… and a million vintage lighting catalogs. Bo, are you sure I’m invited back? I’ll never leave! Thank you again for sharing your knowledge. More Rejuvenation posts to come…

 

  1. Bo says:

    Bo here – sorry, not so blog saavy. Feel free to send me a picture of your light and I’ll share anything I can about it. bo [at] arcalus [dot] com

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Welcome, Bo! Personally, I think you should ask for a donation for every ID to go toward growing your collection!

    2. Shannon Olson says:

      I have a pull down light as well , just switched it out , curious if you could tell me the value? I don’t know how to post a picture in this comment.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Terry, there is an FAQ on this, and I have also added a link to the answer on to the Fast & Easy Lighting page.

  2. alston says:

    how cool! thanks so much for passing this link along — it’s so fun to see the original catalog! did you need to use anything to clean yours up? ours could use a little polishing…

    1. pam kueber says:

      alston, my light has a light coppertone finish. it was in great shape. remember: these were not necessarily all gold-tone. as i said, mine has a reddish-gold coppertone look. it may be that yours is meant to be that way, too.

  3. Kathie says:

    I just read about your kitchen reno today – and the light – and look what I just came across on NJ Craigslist … (link long gone)

  4. Sara says:

    I’ve recently purchased a home built in the 60’s. My father found a wonderful pull down light with a wooden shade. The pully portion of the lamp is in good working order, but the fabric covered wires are in disrepair. I’ve checked in my area and haven’t had any luck finding any electrictricians or lamp repair stores who carry replacement wire, or who were willing to do repairs. Does anyone know on online retailer, or a lamp repair shop in their area?

    1. pam kueber says:

      Sara, please know that we have been told that this pull-down feature now is no longer to code. Hence, the lack of electricians willing to do repairs… Maybe if they “re make” it WITHOUT the pull down feature? That is, decide on the drop height — and make it to that specification. Keep the housing for the pulley — but only for show. Good luck.

  5. Trip Haynes says:

    WOW my grandparents had a light exactly like that in the kitchen. I remember it would pull down then could be raised back up. It had old cloth wiring and the top of the lampshade lit up when turned on.

  6. Pamela Demarest says:

    Hey! I was born in 1959, my name is Pamela, I own a 1959 ranch house in Sacramento and I HAVE A PULL DOWN LIGHT EXACTLY LIKE YOURS!! I saw the picture of your site profiled on a WordPress Thesis site. I can’t bear to part with this light although it’s not fitting in with my design theme…. it may be relocated to another part of the house…unless I get the “right offer”… ha ha

  7. katie says:

    I inherited my grandparent’s home (circa 1915) which has been remodeled many times. The kitchen has something like a 4121 pull down brass with holes light, but it also has an upper portion that supports two additional bulbs that shine towards the ceiling covered by another brass shade. The gold pull down cord covering is quite worn and ratty looking. Have you found any way to replace or repair the cords. Also, I think there used to be a wooden knob cover that switches between upper, lower and all bulbs. I imagine it will be next to impossible to replace the knob? any suggestions? Ebay is very lean these days even though your page and posts seem to have recommended it before.

  8. James Monday says:

    I recently purchased a Moe Fiesta style pull-down pendant ceiling light and wanted to repair the pull down mechanism. Does anyone know of a link that shows how to repair? BTW, love your website! Full of interesting info on these classic lights! Thanks, James

    1. pam kueber says:

      James, we do not have that… And please know: I have been told that the pull-down lights are no longer to code — please consult with a properly licensed professional.

    2. George says:

      I too have been looking for a site explaining the function and possible repair of the pull-down mechanism. I have two such mechanisms, one made in W. Germany perhaps in the 50s, and another, a more or less exact copy, made in Japan probably a bit later, along with their respective fixtures. I suspect the reason 50s pull-downs may now not be code is that [remainder of comment edited out by Pam; please, everyone, on safety issues – please find and consult with your own properly licensed professional.]

      1. Ben says:

        Aww man, I have been searching and searching the internet to learn why these clever pull-down mechanisms are not up to code, and just when George was about to answer my question, Pam cut him off.

  9. Joe Felice says:

    Pull-down lights were all the rage in the late ’50s & early ’60s. I think every home had at least one. Mine was in the bedroom above the desk. I never could figure out how they worked.

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