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. 

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.


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 — get with your own experts on this question — consult with a properly licensed professional to make an informed decision how to handle. Be Safe / Renovate Safe.

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.

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 for making this vintage catalog available via Creative Commons License.


All 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:

  1. Jason says:

    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!

    1. Jay says:

      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.

  2. Marci says:

    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!

  3. JKM says:

    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.

  4. Kaysie says:

    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.

  5. Nancy says:

    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!)

  6. tammyCA says:

    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.

    1. Zoe says:

      I think it’s because pulling down the cord (and then letting it go back up, repeat ad infinitum) is hard on the wires, and could cause a fire hazard eventually. Too bad — I love those pull-down lights!

  7. Kelly B says:

    Pam, Today we bought 6 lights made by this company from a house about to be demolished. I searched the company Virden Lighting on google and the link to this article was among the top search results! we now have 6 of the lights V-6200 to use in our future Palm Springs dream home – woo hoo! Thanks for posting this very cool catalogue and now we know our salvage find was well worth it!

  8. Charmaine says:

    Pam, I hope you can help. I found a Virden hanging lamp outside at a friends place. It is a really interesting design and comes completely apart. (Have not done that) I am trying to find info on the lamp. It has the yellow Underwriters label with company name and C-26, 605. Not sure how send you a photo. Any help will be appreciated.

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Charmaine, there were so many (hundreds) of styles — I don’t have the expertise to identify them. My advice: Start searching out catalogs online to see if you can find it… Good luck!

  9. pamela soerries says:

    I have an John Virden vintage lamp It says international Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
    Most of the label is missing but I can see B-8919
    Would you have any idea how much it goes for and the year?

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