The Banker Style
The bankers lamp shade is so-called perhaps because of its prominence on the desk of bank tellers or employees who greet and speak with customers. Their shortness, simplicity, and downward facing orientation imply detailed, serious work - perfectly suited to promoting the stereotypical image of a banker engaged in the labors of banking for their customers. For people who are interested in a material that is glass-like but not glass, a good alternative is a mica lamp shade made in the bankers style.
The height of the bankers lamp shade varies a bit, but usually is not more than a foot off the base. Taller ones are available but are not common. The shade is usually a thin glass that is longer than it is wide. The placement of the typical bankers lamp shade is on the desk as its largely inappropriate anywhere else, for example to illuminate a small room, hallway etc. This limits the use of the bankers lamp shade to a few areas of the house. The banker lamp shade has a shape that overlaps strikingly with another style known as the piano lamp. The piano lamp serves much of the same purpose. It stands on the top of a piano to illuminate the keyboard and the sheet music for the practicing musician.
As Antique Glass Lamp Shades
In attempting to trace the history of the bankers shade, one actually comes across a man named called McFaddin who first designed the "Emeralite" shade that became the predecessor of the modern banker. McFaddin first designed the shade in the early 1900's, perhaps pinpointable to 1909. Samples from that time would certainly belong to the category of antique glass lamp shades.
The Basic Elements of the Banker Lamp Shade
The classic elements of the bankers lamp shades include a rectangular, metal base perhaps with ornate designs, at the top of which is a horizontal u-shaped bar that holds the shade horizontally at two ends. The shade is often green on the outside and white on the inside (where the bulb sits). Other colors include mica, a sandy-colored natural mineral with a rustic, nature look, amber glass and frosted white. The base is simple steel, nickel, classic brass or finished with bronze (both polished and unpolished). The angle of the bulb may or may not be adjustable.
Bulbs for the Banker Shade
The lamp can be turned on either by a switch at the base or a chain near the bulb. Because the bankers lamp shade is small, the bulbs that can be accommodated into the shade are limited to 40-60 watt incandescent bulbs. Modern compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL) as well as older style incandescents are prevalent, which appeals to the environmentally conscious consumer. However, for greater brightness one can try halogen bulbs that fit easily into the small space. Other choices include two or three way bulbs, so the lamp itself correspondingly will have a switch for selecting between the different brightnesses.
Replacement and Repair of the Banker Lamp Shade
Should the shade itself get broken, it is easy to get and fit a replacement bankers lamp shade because the shade is so small and easy to manufacture. One thing that many people do not realize is that the shade is held in place at the ends so that in order to be held by the metal frame, two holes must be drilled at either end. The drilling process stresses the glass lamp shade, possibly weakening it to further fracture in the future. Low quality shades may be more prone to breaking than higher quality banker lamp shades.
Buying Bankers Lamp Shades
Of course it is possible to get mass-produced versions on-line almost anywhere. For quality ones, look to smaller, specialty stores. This store sells French Vianne Bankers Lamp Shades, for example.