Sometimes you stumble on a business so well run in the old-fashioned way that it just makes you feel good. I recently discovered just such a business, and although it’s not an Edmonds business — and its product is a bit off the beaten track — it’s worth reporting on.
I own a wrought iron standing lamp by Samuel Yellen, the master blacksmith who did, among many other things, the decorative ironwork for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Yellen was born to a Jewish family in the Ukraine in 1884. After being apprenticed to a master ironsmith and completing his apprenticeship he moved to the United States in 1905, taking classes at the Philadelphia Museum Sschool of Industrial Art. In 1909 Yellen opened his own workshop in Philadelphia, dying in 1940. The company continued to run for many years under Yellen’s son, Harvey.
It’s unclear if my lamp was made personally by Yellen, or is simply the product of his workshop. All I know is that it has been in the family, who came from Philadelphia, since at least the mid-1930s.
Up to now I’ve made do with off-the-shelf lampshades, but recently on eBay I discovered Merrittes – a one-man company in Grover Beach, California, which makes amazing mica-and-copper lampshades, mostly in the Art Decco or Arts and Crafts style. After corresponding with Tim, I ordered a custom lampshade, which he designed based partly on my lamp and partly on the models I picked from eBay as most like what I wanted.
The shade arrived a few days ago, and it’s a masterpiece. Tim even uses solid bronze light sockets that compliment the antique look of the lamp and shade – heavy, solid sockets, unlike anything you find at a local hardware shop.
There was a delay, though: I got a note from Tim about a week ago to say that he was not satisfied with the shade he had just made. I could have it at a $100 discount, or he’d start a new one if I didn’t mind waiting. I chose to wait, and the results are well worth the time and money.
It’s such a pleasure to find someone who not only makes wonderfully executed products, but also takes so much pride in his work that he offers to sell something he is not pleased with at a huge discount.
Looking for a great lampshade? Have a look at “merritte” on eBay, or go to https://micalampshade.com/index.html and see what’s on offer.
Very fine product, great service, a wonderful experience – and a shade that will grace my Yellen lamp for many years.
— By Nathaniel Brown, Edmonds
Have a favorite find you’d like to share with readers? Send it to [email protected].