In the 1890’s, before the debut of their more famous floral designs of the early 1900’s, Tiffany Studios produced simple, basic geometric patterned lamps. They were inspired by Moorish, Roman and Greek designs, greatly admired by Tiffany during his travels to those popular destinations.
About 1904 there was a gradual inclusion of natural motifs decorating Tiffany’s geometric shades. For the first time we see a pattern evolve. It emerges from plant form and becomes the Acorn shade. Now horizontal and vertical rows of quadrangular glass pieces are interrupted by a band of stylized acorns. They are connected by an undulating stem and are artfully arranged in an alternating up-and-down sequence.
The Acorn pattern was taken from a Japanese motif and characteristic of the Japanese culture has symbolic meaning. See Japanese symbols, History section (below). Their concept of art and design, newly discovered by Western artists in the 1870’s, greatly influenced the Arts and Crafts movement which abhorred the overly embellished Victorian style of the day. The Zen simplicity of the earth toned Acorn lamp is an exemplary, decorative item for the typical Craftsman home.
Because its comparatively simple design was economical to produce, the Acorn achieved great popularity and was turned out in scores of sizes and shapes. During the 1970’s an authentic Tiffany Acorn table lamp was valued at $3,000. Today they auction from $30,000 and up.
The Tiffany Studios produced more shades in the multiple geometric category than in any other. That accounts for the fact that more of these are still in existence today.