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Mica Lamp & Shade Information

Mica LampAmber mica shades gives off a beautiful dramatic and subdued light like no other material. Silver mica shades gives a brighter light than amber mica. Both are reminiscent of a romantic fireplace light.

Mica was not always the expensive material that it is now. In the early American colonial years, muscovite mica was sometimes found in such large sheets that it could be used as window material for houses. Prices were competitive with glass which had to be imported from England. A very large piece of about 1 meter high can be seen in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.

Muscovite, commonly known as white mica, is a member of the mica family of minerals. The mica minerals all share the property of perfect basal cleavage, which means that layers of mica can be peeled off of a mica crystal in very thin sheets. It is especially easy to peel off large numbers of paper-thin sheets from a muscovite crystal. Consequently, crystals of mica are often referred to as books of mica.

Dirk Van Erp was the most important metalsmith/coppersmith of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Dirk Van Erp Mica Lamp
Dirk Van Erp 1860-1933
1860 Dirk Van Erp was born in Leeuwarden Netherlands to a family of metalsmiths and coppersmiths
1886 he came to the United States
1890 he moved to San Francisco and worked for Union Iron Works
1892 he married Mary Richardson Marino
1894 his daughter Agatha was born
1898 he traveled to the Yukon Gold Rush
1898 he returned to work at the Union Iron Works
1900 he moved to Vallejo, California and worked as coppersmith at Mare Island Naval Shipyard
He made lamps from empty shell casings and sold them to local retail merchants
1901 his son William Henry van Erp was born
1908 he opened the Art Copper Shop in Oakland, California
1909 he exhibited dozens of pieces at the World's Fair Seattle, Washington and won a gold medal
1910 he moved his shop to San Francisco and briefly partnered with Elizabeth Eleanor D'Arcy Gaw
1915 he exhibited at the World's Fair in San Francisco
1915-1918: During World War I, Dirk Van Erp worked at Union Iron Works in support of the war
1918 World War I ended and Dirk Van Erp resumed his work
1929 he retired
1933 Dirk Van Erp died
Son William Van Erp operated the business until 1977 when he died

"Thin transparent sheets of mica called "isinglass" were used for peepholes in boilers, lanterns, stoves, and kerosene heaters because they were less likely to shatter compared to glass when exposed to extreme temperature gradients. Such peepholes were also used in isinglass curtains in horse-drawn carriages and early 20th century cars. A book about a journey in a Model T Ford car describes isinglass curtains as follows: "Oiled canvas side curtains were put up over the windows for wind, rain, and cold (there were no heaters) and were held in place with rods that fit into the doors and twisting button snaps around the perimeter... 'Isinglass' peepholes in the curtains allowed limited visibility. Isinglass was made of thin sheets of cracked mica." - Wikipedia