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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Marshall Studios/ Martz Lamp (Status: I'm like the collectible lamp summoner)

I found this little lamp at the happy hunting grounds that is the North High St. Goodwill,  maybe a month ago.  I saw that it had a signature so I picked it up and I'm happy that I did!

When I first saw the lamp I thought it was an Ikea or Target lamp that I could pick up for my dad to use as a desk light, then I noticed that the cord looked older; a closer look turned up a signature and I plunked down the $4.00, went home and tried to research the signature.  I thought it said "Mintz" and try as I might, I could not find a lamp company by that name, stumped I set it aside.  A few weeks latter I was visiting the Springfield antique malls and spotted my lamp, labled "Martz"- Ahhhhhhhh.

Here is what I found out about the Marshall Studios/Martz lamp company.

Martz 41

Gordon Martz met Jane Marshall when they were attending The New York State College of Ceramic; shortly after graduating they married and moved to Veedersburg Indiana where Jane’s family owned Marshall Studios, a lamp company that made painted lampshades and wooden lamp bases.
Soon they set up a ceramics studio in the Marshall Studios building and began to produce ceramic lamp bases in a modern european style.    The Martz used three basic design techniques for the lamps, scratching in a simple design, dipping the base in different glazes to create a layered look and lightly brushing on glazes, all of the techniques were common to studio pottery but not to commercial ceramic production.  
The Martz 41 was their first production lamp, the ceramic base could be ordered in two dozen glazes and finishes; to the simple base was added a walnut neck and a walnut finial held the shade on the harp.  The number 41 sold well but their break through lamp was the 101.  The 101 caught the eye of Edgar Kaufmann, Jr (his parents had Frank Lloyd Wright design Falling Water) who invited the Martz to show the 101 in the 1953 Museum of Modern Art “Good Design” show.  The 101s teardrop shape in matte black was a huge hit and the company took off. 
Martz 101
Martz lamps were available in department stores, sold to hotel chains and were even used in US embassies around the world (once Gordon Martz secretly wrote "Kruschchev is a bum!" on the base of a lamp destined for the US Embassy in Moscow).  eventually Marshall Studios was also producing dinnerware, serving pieces, canisters, planters, carafes, cruets, tile-topped tables, bookends with inset tiles, ashtrays. and even altarware for churches.
Sadly by the late 1970s demand for modern styling started to fade, sales dropped and the Marshall Studios/Martz company finally closed in 1989.

I highly condensed an article that appeared on JetSet Modern http://www.jetsetmodern.com/martz.htm 
The pictures are from first dibs



10 comments:

  1. Really like those lamps, especially the groups in the last 2 pictures. Sadly, finding vintage modern lamps is pretty tough in the city though. Perhaps a trip to Springfield is in order.

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  2. @nickarmadillo- Springfield Ohio, was where I saw the Martz lamps.

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  3. You ARE the collectible lamp summoner! lol

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  4. Thank you for supplying this primer on the company, based on some of the photos I believe that 2 of my lamps are from this company, will have to look for the signature in the morning.

    Also kudos for an adorable story about a couple who designs together, too sweet.

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  5. @Mitzi- Lol!

    @The Thriftaholic (Leilani)- All of the Martz lamps will have the signature by the cord hole. All Martz lamps were fitted with a wooden finial and they made their own lamp shades. Mine would have had a clip on shade (but it was not present).
    I was influenced by Dana@ Mid2Mod. I'm kind of a sucker for love stories like that, as well.

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  6. Thanks for the info...I'm always on the hunt for nice lamps and these are some really nice examples..

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  7. Great info! Somehow I missed the jetsetmodern article. I especially loved the part about Martz putting the secret message on the lamp headed to the embassy in Moscow.

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  8. Came over here from Dana's blog. Have been a long time fan of Marshall/Martz. Thanks for sharing this great information and beautiful pictures!

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  9. I bow to you! :) I have a wonderful large black signed lamp that I too thought said Mintz. I tried everything to find signature to no avail. SOOO, I deeply appreciate ur info. Thanks for sharing girlie! Much appreciated. Now I can research mine and sell it. Mine is a large, black rectangle with rounded edges. Super cool but too big for my new place. If you have any idea of a fair price I can sell it for, u seem to be a specialist in lamps :), please let me know. Either way I thank u for sharing. Daizy

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  10. I've got 3 Martz lamps. Had a 4th (one of a matching pair for my sofa's end tables), but accidentally broke it a couple months ago. I thought if I could find one that matched one of my 3 survivors I could use that pair for the couch.

    Only then did I come across Martz Marshall info and checked the lamps - sure enough they have the Martz signature at the cord hole.

    I got mine at Furniture by Otmar in Centerville OH (they're also in Montgomery OH). But I got them in the 1980s and early 1990s, and moved away a few years later. So my hope of finding a match is pretty slim at this point.

    But I do appreciate learning something about the story behind the lamps.

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