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The value of a good story. Skinflint Design and Mid Century Modern

We all love stories. Some people say that’s what makes us human, we are the only inhabitants of our beautiful blue and green planet who write, paint, sing and simply tell each other stories. And one of the things we love about Skinflint Design – purveyors of vintage and salvaged lighting – who will be presenting their wares at The Mid Century Modern Show at Lords Cricket Ground on 14 October – is that their lights come with history.

Vintage lights by Skinflint designThis unusual double headed, to my mind rather lovely, monster is actually a vintage therapy light. Originally used for Ultra Violet light therapy to treat a number of conditions and to alleviate pain, from  bruises and sprains to more serious wounds.  Made by  Perhel in around 1950, the Twin chrome and copper plated ribbed steel reflectors are on chrome arms and mounted on a brushed and lacquered steel base. And they twist and turn just about every way you cam imagine.

Vintage lights by Skinflint design

And what would you do with this? Come to that, what is it? Skinflint tell us that it is an ex-military runway light, from the USA, used extensively on army runways and aircraft carriers. If you want to know the techy stuff,  it has a two part Fresnel lens and the original runway side diffusion element on outer glass prism. The base is designed so the light can be turned 360 degrees. When you buy it from Skinflint they make sure it works safely, of course,   with two metres of olive green braided cable, new bayonet (B22) lamp holders and even a plug. How the lights got from the States to Skinflint HQ in England’s West Country is a secret yet to be told.

Vintage lights by Skinflint design

We have seen reproduction lights a bit like this but not quite like this. These large elliptical angled English factory shades by “Benjamin” were made in around 1930. Light like this  were used in factories, such as  car production lines from the very early days of electricity being used to light industrial premises through to the   late 1960s.  The reflector  is vitreous enameled and still has the original makers label. These lights do have slight localised wear but that’s like scars on fine leather. This is the real McCoy. When people ask about them the sorry is a lot more interesting than ‘I bought them in  wherever, they are based on something old’.

Vintage lights by Skinflint design

And if anyone recognises what these are when they are hanging from your ceiling. They are known as ‘Man overboard lights’. Originally used on Naval vessels, they hung along side the deck lifebuoys. When thrown into the water they automatically illuminated, the lamps then floated upright. Made in 1958, they have brass plated steel enclosures, the  original paint finish and makers label. Skin Flint have turned them into ceiling lights and have even added energy saving LED bulbs.

For me, true vintage is a little more challenging and a lot more rewarding. You get the scratches but you also get the stories. We would love to know what Modenus readers think – the comments section is open!


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