Erpé Diabolo Desk Lamp
Materials: Black painted round aluminium base with a built-in switch. Curved brass rod and brass knee-joint. Some iron and brass parts. Vanilla-cream painted aluminium diabolo lampshade, painted white on the inside. Brass B22 socket.
Height: 29 cm / 11.41”
Lampshade: ∅ 12,5 cm / 4.92”
Base: ∅ 14,5 cm / 5.70”
Electricity: 1 bulb B22, 1 x 75 watt maximum, 110/220 volt.
Any type of light bulb can be used, not a specific one preferred.
Period: 1950s, 1960s – Mid-Century Modern.
Designer: To be appraised.
Manufacturer: Etablissements Ritzen & Penners, Lehonplein 13, Brussels, Belgium.
Other versions: The lampshade of this Erpé diabolo desk lamp was made in several colours. The base is always black. The lampshade was used for several other lamps. The base and rod were used for several other lamps.
Most of the time these diabolo lamps are without a label. Fortunately, I came across one in 2020 with the exact same lampshade and with the Erpé label, as you can see.
Erpé was the brand name of the company Etablissements Ritzen & Penners. The company was founded in January 1914 by Leon Ritzen and Frans Penners, two entrepreneurs from Brussels. In the 1920s and 1930s Ritzen & Penners manufactured office and work lamps and electrical equipment.
They also distributed the German SABA receivers in the 1920s. Under the brand name Erpé, they marketed broadcast receivers on a modest scale in the 1930s.
The company produced many industrial style desk lamps like this one. This table lamp is model 52. At some point the name Erpé on the lamps was changed into Erpe. In the 50s and 60s they made a whole range of diabolo lamps. The company ended business in the 60s.
The diabolo lampshades were very popular in the 1950s. You can find several examples here on Vintageinfo.
The diabolo, some yo-yo, has it’s origin in China. It’s a double-coned bobbin that can be twirled, tossed, and caught on a string secured by two sticks, one held in each hand. The first diabolo’s were made of bamboo and they made some whistling sound.
In the eighteenth century, the diabolo became known in England and France. The term “diabolo” was made up by French engineer Gustave Phillippart, who developed the modern diabolo in the early twentieth century and he was re-released. Since then, he has been widespread.