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Antique light bulbs have become a popular addition to home and business decor in recent years. From coffee shops and restaurants to DIY lighting projects, these decorative bulbs can be found everywhere. These bulbs come in many different shapes and sizes and are often used in pendant lighting, clear fixtures, or fixtures with exposed bulbs.

Antique Bulb Shapes

The more popular vintage light bulb shapes are the Edison, Victorian, globe, and chandelier. Easily the most recognizable antique style light bulb, Edison bulbs are designed to look like Thomas Edison’s first light bulb. These bulbs have an oblong shape with a nipple at the top and typically have a medium E26 base. Victorian bulbs are shaped like your everyday household A-shape bulbs and usually have a medium E26 or candelabra E12 base. Globe bulbs are round ball shaped light bulbs that vary in size from one inch to five inches in diameter. You can tell what the diameter of the bulb is based on what it’s named. For example G25 globes are 25 eighths of an inch, or 3.125 inches, in diameter. Chandelier bulbs are typically small tapered bulbs designed for use in, you guessed it, chandeliers and typically have a candelabra E12 base. Chandelier bulbs can also be found in Edison or Victorian styles.

The less common and more unique antique bulb shapes are radio, tubular, specialty, and oversized. Radio style bulbs are designed to resemble the vacuum tubes of classic radios and are usually about four inches tall. Similarly shaped, tubular bulbs are taller than radio style bulbs, ranging around four to eight inches. These two shaped bulbs are common in custom lighting projects like steampunk lamps. Specialty bulbs have very unique shapes, like lanterns or the hexahedral qualities of a gemstone. Oversized antique bulbs can come in any shape previously mentioned. What makes them unique is they are at least 12 inches tall and designed to make a statement.

Antique Bulb Filaments

Regardless of the bulb’s shape, what really makes an antique bulb is the exposed filament. These filaments come in a wide variety of styles. The more popular designs include:

  • Squirrel cage
  • Hairpin and double hairpin
  • Triple and quad loop
  • Z-shape
  • Spiral

Are Antique Bulbs Bright Enough?

These bulbs are designed to be predominately decorative. They have a low Lumen output, often under 400 Lumens, so if your goal is to light a room, you’ll need a lot more antique bulbs than if you used standard ones. Antique bulbs also emit a very warm color light of about 2400 Kelvin that is almost orange in appearance. This color light isn’t recommended for general or task lighting. For a brighter antique bulb, consider switching to the LED versions which often pack a bigger punch while using less energy and can be found with slightly higher Kelvin color temperatures.