WHAT’S A TOLE CHANDELIER?
The first time I saw the word tole in reference to a tole chandelier, I thought it had been misspelled. I associated tole with the word TOILE, but no. Toile refers to a design on fabric whereas the word tole refers to painted tinplate. (Please note- article may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure at the end of the post.)
Table of contents
- Where Should I Hang My Tole Chandelier?
- What Is Tole?
- Should I Buy A Vintage Tole Chandelier Or A New Chandelier?
- Where Can I Buy A New Flower Chandelier Locally?
- Where Can I Buy A Vintage Tole Chandelier Locally?
- What Light Bulbs Do I Use In My Fixture?
- Does Tole Only Refer To Chandeliers?
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Tole chandeliers are light fixtures made of metal and painted with enamel paint or lacquer. They’re decorated with colorful vines, green leaves, and either porcelain roses or metal flowers. Typically the chandeliers have a base color of cream, white, or gold.
Vintage tole chandeliers trace back to Europe in the 1920s and were produced in and around Florence, Italy, and France. Original tole chandeliers were versatile, affordable lighting fixtures.
These colorful chandeliers became popular over the years and were exported all over the world including the United States.
The cool chandeliers with a floral motif continue to be produced today. The designs have evolved into many beautiful variations but the framework remains – metal, flowers, leaves, vines, and bright colors
WHERE SHOULD I HANG MY TOLE CHANDELIER?
The great thing about tole light fixtures is they’re so versatile. You obviously can hang them in the normal spots like your kitchen, dining room, or sunroom but think outside the box.
This chandelier (top image) features yellow flower petals and is the perfect pick-me-up for this quaint laundry room (from the blog Eleven Gables). This might even make me want to do laundry – probably not. Nothing makes me want to do laundry -ha! but it sure would make me happy every time I walked into the room.
What about a tole flower chandelier in your bathroom or powder room? Love this one from the Country Living blog.
Tole chandeliers can’t help but be the focal point of the room- when you see this photo, your eye is drawn immediately to the happy hanging light fixture.
WHAT IS TOLE?
At this point, you may be asking, so what actually is tole?
There are several definitions of tole but the most straightforward is from Dictionary.com. It states that – Tole is enameled or lacquered metalware, usually with gilt (gold-leaf) decoration, often used, especially in the 18th century for trays, lampshades, etc.
To quickly sum it up, tole is painted metalware.
TIP: When searching online for your perfect fixture, try some of the search terms below:
|Search Terms for Antique or|
|Search Terms for Recently|
Produced Floral Fixtures
|Tole Chandelier||Tole Chandelier|
|Tole Chandeliers||Foral Chandelier|
|Vintage Tole Chandelier||Vintage Flower Chandelier|
|Vintage Italian Tole Chandelier||Flower Chandelier|
|Tole Flower Chandelier||Tole Flower Chandelier|
SHOULD I BUY A VINTAGE TOLE CHANDELIER OR A NEW CHANDELIER?
To make it easier, in this post I refer to the vintage chandeliers as tole and the newly produced chandeliers as flower chandeliers.
TOLE CHANDELIERS (VINTAGE – ANTIQUE)
If I had to choose, 100% of the time I would choose authentic vintage tole chandeliers. There’s something about the look of vintage lighting that can’t be reproduced today.
Vintage light fixtures are full of charm, history, and quality materials- not like today’s “throw away” products. I can almost guarantee that you won’t regret buying one, however, they do come with some conditions that we’ll talk about below.
BEST SELECTION OF FLORAL TOLE CHANDELIERS
If you know that you’re ready to purchase a vintage tole fixture, I’ve rounded up some info for you.
One of the best spots to find tole chandeliers online is Etsy. The site offers a huge selection of fixtures that are in really good vintage condition. Some of my favorite shops are:
If you’re not quite ready to make a decision, read on and maybe this will help you figure things out.
The last thing I want to do is scare you away from antique lighting, but I do want to make you aware of some things before you purchase.
You can always find a deal, but in general, you’ll pay more for an antique chandelier (or vintage chandelier). Why? Because they’re worth it!
What “they” say is true- you get what you pay for- quality materials with an item whose value will increase with time.
If you have a tole chandelier on your hands and aren’t quite sure what to do with it, read my article What To Do with Old Light Fixtures.
I’ve seen many, many tole chandeliers over the years and I rarely run across two that are just alike. When it comes to antiques, rare is important.
To view the gold Italian tole chandelier in the photo click HERE.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to make an offer on an antique or vintage chandelier, especially if there are visible signs of damage like rust or chipping paint.
Dealers want to move their inventory and are familiar with offers. Ask “Would you consider $$?” or “Is this your best price?”
The dealer won’t be offended and if he is, who cares, you’ll probably never see him again anyway.
If the fixture you’ve decided on hasn’t been rewired, you’ll need to have this done. If in doubt, rewire.
Don’t hang a vintage light fixture in your home that hasn’t been rewired since 1925 or 1945 or even 1985. Make sure that the person rewiring also adds a ground wire to the fixture for safety.
Wiring will run approximately $50 – $100 depending on where you live. You can rewire yourself but please be careful and get instructions from someone/somewhere reputable.
RUST, EROSION AND PAINT WEAR
Sometimes you’ll find vintage lighting with an original paint finish that’s in perfect condition. If you find one, grab it because they’re rare.
Most times though, old chandeliers will show signs of aging -rust or wear and tear. You need to figure out how much vintage you can handle.
For me, the chippy-er (I just made that up- I kinda like it) the better; it makes life more interesting. If you’re looking for perfection, you might consider a new flower chandelier or one without age or blemish.
MISSING PARTS AND BROKEN PETALS AND LEAVES
Because these chandeliers are old, oftentimes they’re missing parts or a previous owner has added incorrect pieces to the fixture. Make sure the light you choose is in good condition.
Try to find a fixture with a matching chain and an original ceiling cap that’s large enough to cover the electrical in your ceiling.
Check all flower petals and leaves. Sometimes the leaves get bent and you’ll find rust where the paint has cracked.
You may find a chandelier with missing or cracked candle covers, no big deal, you can grab some of those here: candle covers
To view the tole light chandelier in the photo click HERE.
Vintage lighting is very sturdy. Early tole fixtures were produced with thick metal that wasn’t easily bent.
Many of the older chandeliers came with large-based sockets called fat boy sockets (not kidding-still used today in lamps).
Fixtures from the 60s-70s (still vintage) were made of thinner, bendable metal and candelabra sockets (small-based bulbs).
FLOWER CHANDELIER (NEW)
If I wasn’t into vintage/antique, I’d have no problem buying new. You can find new floral fixtures for approximately $125 like the one below but it’s pretty small. Most will be in the $250+ range.
The main thing you need to consider when buying a new flower chandelier is that the fixture is made of quality materials.
Sometimes manufacturers cut corners by producing fixtures with thin metal and plastic parts. If the chandelier comes with prisms, make sure they’re glass and not plastic.
If possible, buy a fixture that is UL listed. UL-listed fixtures have gone through rigorous testing and will have a sticker showing their certification. This certification is not required by law but it’s a good indicator that your chandelier is from a reputable manufacturer.
For the gold leaf chandelier in the photo click HERE.
The downside to buying a new flower chandelier as opposed to a vintage or antique tole chandelier is that the value won’t increase – it’s possible but unlikely.
WHERE CAN I BUY A NEW FLOWER CHANDELIER LOCALLY?
If you’d like to buy your lighting in person instead of online, remember, it may be a bit tough to find a flower chandelier. They aren’t something you’re going to find everywhere. You might want to try:
-Home Depot or Lowe’s
-Your Local Lighting Store
-Local Specialty Boutique
-Your Local Furniture Store
WHERE CAN I BUY A VINTAGE TOLE CHANDELIER LOCALLY?
Not interested in buying online? You can find a tole chandelier in your area, you might have to dig a little, but they’re out there.
One thing to consider though is to look online first so you can compare pricing.
Check your local antique stores. Usually, you can find a vintage chandelier either hanging in someone’s booth or sitting on the floor.
Also, ask the person at the desk if they have any chandeliers. They should be familiar with inventory in the store.
Flea markets are great places to find tole chandeliers. The best flea markets are the ones that are in town once a month or so. I’ve found that their inventory is more plentiful and turns over quicker than the permanent flea markets that are basically stores.
OTHER PLACES TO FIND A TOLE CHANDELIER
- HABITAT FOR HUMANITY HOME STORE
- GARAGE SALES OR YARD SALES (GREAT PLACE TO FIND A LOWER PRICE FIXTURE)
- ESTATE SALES
- HOME RESTORATION STORES
- CRAIG’S LIST (I DON’T RECOMMEND THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE SOMEONE GO WITH YOU TO PICK THE VINTAGE LIGHTING UP. BE SURE TO MEET IN A PUBLIC PLACE)
WHAT LIGHT BULBS DO I USE IN MY FIXTURE?
My favorite light bulbs to use in the tole chandeliers are the LightLady Studio silicone light bulbs. They’re 7 watts a piece and put off a warm glow.
*Note – these bulbs are low wattage and for decorative purposes.
If your fixture is the main light source in the room, I recommend 25 watt E12 incandescent light bulbs or decorative LED light bulbs.
DOES TOLE ONLY REFER TO CHANDELIERS?
After talking about so many tole light fixtures, you may think tole is only in reference to chandeliers, but it’s not.
Below is a beautiful example of an antique tole-painted tray.
The tray should give you an idea of what tole items are all about, decorative flowers, vines, leaves, and painted metal.
The floral wall sconces below are a perfect example of tole. Aren’t they amazing?
Another beautiful pair of tole sconces below.
Keep your eyes open, you’ll be surprised at all the places you’re likely to find toleware.
Send me a photo if you come across a tole fixture or better yet if you decide to buy one. I love hearing from you!
Until Next Time,
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Please note that some links in this post are affiliate links. At NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, I will earn a small commission on any purchases made.