Bobèche - Rebuilding a Vintage Chandelier


The photo above is a chandelier. A "Venetian" chandelier if you believe some labels found on the Internet, but I've found that word is used a bit liberally in Internet land, and can apply to just about anything that may have scalloped edges. This chandelier is much more accurately, a "Craigslist" Chandelier, and it's currently in pieces. This beauty was acquired by my incredible Maid of Honor for my wedding day. It was her idea to have it at the head of the aisle in the barn for the ceremony, and then hanging over our sweetheart table during the reception. Her idea, and then her mission to find it. She made it her part time job because she's amazing, and she bought one, almost the very moment it was listed, picking it up within the hour. In that hour the seller had received multiple offers for 3 times the agreed price. But she wasn't the "sell it out from under you," type, so she stuck to her word, and the chandelier was purchased. And it was perfect.

After the wedding it was packed away and I naively told my maid of honor I would not ever want it for my home. And being the older, wiser sister that she is, she quietly kept it. Two years later she got the call she knew would come, "Do you by any chance still have that chandelier...?" It's in pieces now, but hopefully soon will grace our dining room.

Photo found on ancientpoint.com
Chandeliers are a puzzle. There do not seem to be many other people in the world who are interested in figuring out this puzzle, as I'm not finding a lot online about reconstructing one. Light fixtures in general are relatively simple. Socket shell, lamp rod, wires. But a Craigslist Chandelier is all those things as well as 5 arms, old wiring, 62 hanging prisms, and the crème de la crème: the Bobèche. (And yes, I a loving the necessity of excessive use of French here.) According to wikipedia, "a bobèche is a cup or ring at the top of a candlestick." This beloved chandelier has undergone an entire dis-assembly and several moves. In that journey one arm was broken and two Bobèches are simply lost. The broken arm was obvious but I didn't figure out the bobèche situation until I went to put it all together and the pieces simply didn't add up. So, a week ago I didn't even know what a Bobèche was. Now I'm the woman manically searching ebay for 2 of them at midnight on a Thursday. I honestly am not even sure what the perfect fit is, as the two missing bobèches are for the crown and the base of the chandelier. I found an image online of what I think I'm after, but I'm guessing at the dimensions based on the pieces I do have.

I succeeded with finding one Bobèche this week on ebay that I think will be a perfect fit. When it arrives I will do another partial construction to get my bearings and try again for the last piece. The story of finding a replacement arm could be another post in and of itself. Highlights: you need to measure from wire hole to wire hole for final dimensions, not the actual width of the piece. We figured that out after the first arm arrived and was too big. I found it at lampsclinic.com. I could shop for a bobèche there as well but the vintage ones keep true to the style and so far have been substantially cheaper. We are also "lucky" in that our arms and bobèches seem to be the minority in sizing. I can find dozens of 5 hook bobèches. Our 6 hook (for the hanging prisms) it would seem, is a rarity. But my success spurs me onward! Construction will continue and hopefully you'll be seeing pictures of a completely reassembled and lit chandelier soon.

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