Woofle Bird Lamp Shines Whimsy

Walter von Nessen, a German immigrant, founded Nessen Studios in New York in 1927. His original goal was to design and fabricate architectural lighting, but his far-reaching vision had a profound effect on modern lamp design.

by Larry LeMasters     Oct 9, 2017 @ 10:23

Rare, pair of Art Deco Woofle Bird “Peacock” lamps by Walter von Nessen. This pair of lamps is valued at $7,500.


By 1930, von Nessen was considered an industrial lamp design trailblazer by critics and manufacturers alike. Nessen believed that lamps (lighting) was at the forefront of all new trends since, as quoted from a 1930 edition of Lamp Buyers Journal, “The latest, newest, most radical expressions of art in industry seem particularly applicable to lamps because a lamp highlights a room and it may well be extreme…and it strives to be an expression of ourselves, our times and our environment.” From the outset, von Nessen designed lamps to accessorize modern homes of the times, so while still in Germany, he designed lamps with a German deco styling. After moving to America, von Nessen designed lamps with a decidedly American, Art Deco appearance. He sought for his lamp designs to be both functional and fashionable. Von Nessen became famous for using non-traditional materials for lamp building, including brass with chrome, Bakelite, spun aluminum, fiberglass, rosewood, and cherry wood. Some of his designs are still being manufactured today, but collectors look for von Nessen’s rare or vintage lamps, especially his Art Deco lamps. One of the rarist of all von Nessen Art Deco lamps is his “Woofle Bird” lamp, popularly referred to as von Nessen’s “Peacock” lamp. Originally, the Woofle Bird lamp was designed for the Miller Glass Company in three color-schemes for use in boudoirs or nurseries. Today, these adorable lamps add whimsy to tearooms, kitchens, offices, bedrooms, or on shelves displaying lamp collections. Woofle Bird lamps were only manufactured in 1929, making them nearly 90 years old. When illuminated, the poly-chrome enamel tail reflects light and the glass eyes shine brightly. Be aware that they are as pricey today as they are cute, so bring a smile and a deep pocket to any auction offering a Woofle Bird lamp.

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