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The Tiki Table Lamp Thread

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Some of my favorite Tiki items are the actual Tiki table lamps.

From the Montreal Kon Tiki

Given that they were the centerpiece of the table, they were often very ornate and super cool. Another nice aspect of them is that, thanks to all of the TC members, they are very well documented, They’re always well featured in many postcards and pictures - unlike the mugs unfortunately. And unlike most mugs, they’re very rare which is due to the fact that there was a limited number made and not souvenirs to take home. It would be hard not to be noticed missing from a table as you’re leaving (and a hard item to hide in a purse :roll: ). And my guess is that during any remodel, the tired old lamps were just thrown away. Luckily, some have survived and hopefully more people will share them. I’ve been fortunate to somehow have acquired a few of them but always had trouble finding info on them. So I thought it was worthwhile to do a thread dedicated to these wonderful lamps.

I have liberally used pictures from all over Tiki Central but two names again and again kept popping up - Dustycajun and Bigbrotiki (Sven). It is their unrelenting effort to share their collection and knowledge that really makes this kind of thing possible. Thank-you! :)

Probably the most common and well known lamp is the Trader Vic’s Janus lamp. Although it has gone through many incarnations of the years, the basic design has changed little. The real early ones seem to be a little bit smaller, use a spring loaded candle mechanism and have a different top on them with a shade. Here are a few pictures from 1955 from the Beverly Hills Trader Vic’s:

Some more BH pics but not sure from when...

And nicely featured in this still from “I Am Cuba” from the Trader Vic’s in Havana:

And here are a couple that were rescued by Billbot:

And a couple from Tikiskip with very cool shades:


I have a modern one that I believe is from the defunct Trader Vic’s LA that uses a votive candle. Not quite as exciting but it makes me happy

Another common and elaborate lamp is from one of Trader Vic’s main competitors of the time - Steve Crane. The ones used at his restaurants were the super cool three Tiki table lamp with the green ceramic tiki center pole and rope shade.

From what I remember after talking to Bob van Oosting at Oceanic Arts, OA made the rope shades and the ceramic center posts were made by Stella Bodey from Spurlin. There are many variations of this lamp in the many different incarnations of the center post as well the different bases which helps place the lamps. The only pictures I could find of the above lamp with that particular base were from the Cleveland Kon Tiki.

Super cool to know that that is where it was used :)

The Tiki is based on Steve Crane “thumbs up” tiki.

Although very small in these pictutres, you can see the green three tiki lamps on the tables at the Beverly Hills Luau:

And more from the Montreal Kon Tiki:

However, this particular lamp also found itself into other non-Steve Crane restaurants including the Detroit Mauna Loa:

It being used at the Mauna Loa is not surprising since Florian Gabriel and M. George Nakashima who designed the Mauna Loa also designed Steve Crane’s Luau.

What is surprising is to see them appear just a hop and a skip away from The Luau at their competitor the Los Angeles Islander (note the different shade):

(you can see the lamp in the lower left corner)

The reason why the Islander had these lamps was probably due to the fact that Stella Bodey designed their mugs and made the ceramic lamp posts. However, other pics from the Islander show a wooden double Ku lamp (maybe they were forced to change their lamps):

Here is another version I own that has an added top to it that looks a bit like a top hat.

I only had the ceramic center and rebuild the whole lamp with a new base and top. I even made a rope shade myself which was a messy affair. In trying to rebuild some of these lamps, it’s quite apparent that the brass bases were made from ceiling lamps covers - which would explain the endless variety in bases. In general, I have found that a lot of restaurants decorations from this era were made from creative hardware store visits.

Here’s a similar ‘top hat’ version from Tiki-Kate’s collection (R.I.P. :cry: ) that still has the original base and chimney holder.

I would venture to guess that these came later since the added top fixes a design flaw to help the glass chimney holder sit on more straight. The Mauna Loa used this version although not sure that it was exclusive to them. But I have not found other pictures from other restaurants with this version.

Another variation of this lamp is the Tahitian Bumatay Tiki version.

This green one I believe was used at the Tahitian in Pasadena:

And the pink one was used at the Tahitian in Studio City.

It seems that the pink version might also have been used at the Tropicana bowling lanes in Inglewood:

Thanks to Bigbro for his astute eye on catching these lamps in this postcard.

Not to be outdone, the Kahiki also had a very cool lamp with a particularly nice lamp shade

And here’s an amazing one from the Mai Kai that uses their logo cannibal carving for the center post.


Oceanic Arts themselves sold many different variations of table lamps and outfitted many restaurants with them.

The Marquesan Lamp was used at the Tonga Room.

Here is another amazingly beautiful wood Tiki Lamp from 8ft Tiki that I unfortunately cannot place.

Orchids of Hawaii also got in the game and created two slightly more common table lamps. A regular Tiki and a Kon Tiki Lamp.

Here’s a great picture of the Kon Tiki lamp used at the Marie Antoinette in Canada next to that amazing vicious virgin bowl.

Not all lamps were per se Tiki in style and often had a more flotsam motive. This is of course especially true with the pre-Tiki and pre-Polynesian Pop establishments. Here’s a great one I got from Marty Proser’s Beachcomber. The center post has a great driftwood feel to it.

Here are some cool pics which showcase the lamp quite well.

And while doing research for this thread, I discovered that this same lamp, but with a different shade was also used at the Beachcomber Chicago:

From a June 1948 Look Magazine article:

It seems that Marty Proser really copied everything from poor old Don…

I feel that this is a good start. I hope other people can chime in with their lamps and more cool post card images of lamps.

[ Edited by: Tattoo 2015-03-30 18:14 ]


WOW Tatto! Thanks for the smokin' lamp overview! OGR


Thanks OGR!

Trying to piece together some of the info on other restaurants, I found some great stuff from the Kona Kai. From an early interior post card from the Kona Kai Philadelphia, it seems that they used some sort of OA rope shade lamp.

Other than the rope shade, it’s impossible to tell though what the rest of the lamp looked like.

A later photo from 1974 shows the Orchids of Hawaii Kon Tiki lamp.

Here’s an early picture from the Kansas City Kona Kai that shows that great OA Moai based lamp:

Also known as the Aku Aku lamp from Oceanic Arts

[ Edited by: Tattoo 2015-03-29 15:25 ]


Excellent work, I recognize a lot of those images!

Here is another one I did not see posted from the Outrigger Monterey. A lamp made from the famous Tiki mug.



This is wonderful, simply wonderful! Thank you so much for taking the time to pull this together, this must have been a lot of (fun) work. Very cool, very interesting stuff.

Tattoo, Great thread! Mahalo.

good thread. Nice work

Fantastic research. Thanks for all of the hard work out into the post. A treasure trove of information!

Ok, here's are a few more not identified yet. Table lamps from the pre-Tiki and then Tiki phases of the Hawaiian Room at the Hotel Lexington in New York.

Pre Tiki with tapa shade.

Full Tiki with tapa shade.

I love this thread, lets find some more!



"Great stuff Tattoo!"

And DC!

[ Edited by: A Frame 2015-03-30 17:21 ]

Here is another view of two more lamps at the Hawaiian Room in New York, one Tiki and one not.

AND, another one for your consideration, the black Moai table lamps from the Aku Aku in Las Vegas.



Lots of work to put this threads opening salvo together Tattoo. Well done. I appreciate you including the pictures of my lamp. However, I do not own the pair in photos 9 & 10.
My lamp is correctly noted in 4 photos later down the post. Thanks for compiling this.

I once was lost.....but now I'm found.....

[ Edited by: 8FT Tiki 2015-03-30 17:50 ]

Peanut mug lamp from the Lanai Restaurant in San Mateo.



Cool pics DC!!! And thanks everyone for the compliments When I have some time I'll see if I can up with more. I love the Lanai table lamp picture. I do however find making a lamp out of a mug to be a little bit of a cheat. I am curious if the Aku Aku lamps were just re-purposed mugs or real uniquely made.

PS I fixed the credit to the TV Janus lamps. Thank 8'ft Tiki for pointing that out.

From north of the border, a Bumatay looking mug that was used at the Outrigger in BC and the Tropic Isle in Surrey.

These are from Taboo Dan who found a stash of them from the Tropic Isle.

And here is my postcard from the Outrigger showing a lighter version with the lamp shades on.



Those Outrigger/Tropic Isle lamps are pretty fun and unique! Finding some pictures of the original Don The Beachcomber Hollywood that shows the same "Driftwood" lamps as were used at the Chicago location and Marty Proser's Beachcomber.

Another pic from the Hollywood location shows a slightly different lamp but with a very cool shade. The shade has a miniature fish net complete with little shells caught in them. Nice and appropriate touch for the Beachcomber theme!

The DTB in Hawaii shows a rather boring non-Tiki lamp.

While the Hawaiian Trader Vic's used the Orchids of Hawaii Kon Tiki lamps.

[ Edited by: Tattoo 2015-03-30 19:47 ]

Wow, we already flipped the page. Here are two sightings of the three-sided Hawaiian War God lamps from the OA catalog.

The first is from The Islands restaurant at the Hanalei Hotel in San Diego.

The second is from the Beachcomber in Edmonton, Canada.


Great thread. I am loving this. Photos are awesome.

Just a few more for tonight.

The Mai Kai had a triple blue Ku.

Skipper Kent's used a variation the Beachcomber lamp.

And THE early Trader Vic's Outriggers had the Beachcomber style lamps as well.



Great thread!
I do have pic's to add, soon I hope.


Look forward to your Kahiki table lamp photos. Here is another cool lamp from the Mai Kai.

Looks like a New Caledonia house panel design.


Wow guys! It's 7:00 a.m. in Havana and I just stumbled on this thread. What exhaustive work in cataloguing the Tiki table lamp genre! I will have to dig deep if I want to add to this, you covered 'em all. I remember some more Mai Kai versions. That Monty Proser one is quite a relic!

Great thread!
I knew that I liked tiki table lamps before, but I think I swooned seeing them all together like this!

I wanted to note that the bases on the Beachcomber lamps referred to as driftwood are actually cactus.
Really inappropriate compared to driftwood, but maybe there was an easy supplier from the Southwest souvenir market or the cowboy craze that ran concurrently?


Astute observation! I had never heard of the Cholla Cactus before. It was used for lamps and candle holders in the 1950's and 1960s. Here is a vintage pair from ebay. Looks very driftwoody.



"driftwood are actually cactus."

Er thanks, was going to say that but then thought,
hey can't we keep some secrets?

Cool lights!!!

In the Sea of Cortez sometimes it’s both.


On 2015-04-02 14:04, nui 'umi 'umi wrote:
In the Sea of Cortez sometimes it’s both.

I'm sorry but what does that mean?

lotsa cactus skeletons can be found washed ashore.

Tattoo posted on Fri, Apr 3, 2015 5:56 PM

Thanks Pittsburgh Paulie for pointing out the cactus base!!! So cool to know and what makes TC so great. It might help explain why those lamps were so ubiquitous at that time. A simple crossover item that already existed and worked well for nautical themed establishments. Indeed, it might have been part of some old west themed outfitters...

Another thread to go Tiki Central classic!
Enjoying it.


Ok here are a few of mine.

First Kahiki.
This is the second style of the Kahiki table lamp.
But you can see the first style of Kahiki table lamps shade in the first photo.
How do I know it's the shade used on the first Kahiki table lamp?
When I went to one of the Kahiki sales they long ago put two shades together
to make a hanging light of sorts this kept them in perfect condition.
And they can be seen in old Kahiki photos.
Don't know if there are many of these shades left as the paper stuff
does not last well.
Going to add more pic to this as I find em.

Flip side of Kahiki shade with Trader Vic base.

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2015-04-11 07:00 ]


Here is a close up of the Kahiki table lamp copy I made some time ago.

Even made the lamp shade.
Mine transmits more light than the original one.

Don't be fooled by cheap imitations of my imitation.

Thanks Skip.

A few more entries.

Here is Moai lamp from a photo on Facebook at the Tiki Kai in Albuquerque. What is that customer so focused on?

And another Tiki lamp from a Mai Kai calendar.


[ Edited by: Dustycajun 2015-04-21 11:43 ]

On 2015-04-11 06:54, tikiskip wrote:

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2015-04-11 07:00 ]

Skip, Does that shade connect to a harp or does it clip directly to the Lightbulb?

Another three ku lamp at the Mauna Loa in Hollywood.

And here is an example posted by Bail Teakey with a Skip shade.


It does not clip directly to the Light bulb.
It looks like this...

And goes onto a light like this....

Here are three Kahiki shades second generation.
First one is an original old shade, second is my copy with no shellac, third is my copy with shellac and frame.

Here we have old school candle table lights.
I made these and tied the bases.

Next is a Trader Vic base with a Kahiki lamp shade copy.

Here we have a Don the Beachcomber with Kahiki copy shade.
Got this light from eBay, the seller had many and was Emma one shoe or something like that.(Years ago)

Great additions Dustycajun!
Tiki Central would not be near as good as it is without your input!

TIKISKIP: Maker of TIKI bar lighting, Let me make one for you.

Well thanks Skip.

Here are two old Tiki table lamps that are in use at the Hala Kahiki.



I was finally able to stop by Oceanic Arts the other day and Bob van Oosten was kind enough to spend quite some time with me. He opened up the archives and took me around the store to show me some of the great history relating to the Tiki table lamps. His generosity in sharing his time and vast knowledge cannot be over stated. I am so grateful that these guys are not only still in business but have made a real effort to preserve their history and… share it!

Courtesy of the Oceanic Arts Archives

The ceramic Tiki lamps were sold by The Illuminee Candlelite Mfg. Co. which was a custom lamp manufacturer for hotels and restaurants. As well as resellers like Oceanic Arts who used them when outfitting Polynesian themed restaurants.

All images courtesy of the Oceanic Arts Archives

The ceramic center Tiki posts were indeed manufactured by Stella Bodey of Spurlin for Illuminee. The Luau based Tiki lamp and the Tahitian Bumatay Tiki lamp were publicly available to other restaurants and not exclusive - as I had originally thought. However, one would imagine that Florian Gabriel (who designed the The Luau) probably commissioned Illuminee to create their lamps. After which illuminee just added them into their public catalog.

Interestingly the Model Kona Kai lamps is based on a Toby mug design. Not sure if Stella made that one or not. For that matter, I am not very familiar with the history of Toby Designs.

But OA of course also created their own vast line of table lamps.

All images courtesy of the Oceanic Arts Archives

Since these lamps were custom made, some of them never went beyond the catalog prototype - presumably because it was never ordered. Bob showed me the only existing version of the Menehune Lamp (#1404).

Courtesy of the Oceanic Arts Archives

It really is pretty amazing and sad that it never went into full production. Quite large and beautiful. What a center piece that would have made!

Also, here is a the Tifa Drum lamp.

Courtesy of the Oceanic Arts Archives

Looks like a prototype and not sure if it was ever actually produced. This Tifa drum design with the bird has been an inspiration to many a mugs like the amazing Mai Kai drum mug.

OA has a quite a collection of used lamps themselves including a few from their catalog.

All images courtesy of the Oceanic Arts Archives

You can see the Aku Aku lamp as has been seen in quite a few restaurants.

Courtesy of the Oceanic Arts Archives

Here is the Marquesan table lamp that was used and the Tonga Room. And popped up on ebay just last week from a UK seller. I asked Bob if he had sold any of these lamps to a UK restaurant but he did not know. They did a lot of restaurants…

And of most interest is this lamp in the corner which is the same lamp as 8'Tiki has.

Courtesy of the Oceanic Arts Archives

Below it is a little sign that states the lamp is from Johnny Quong’s in Salt Lake City. How cool is that! Hopefully someone can dig up a picture form Johnny Quong’s with that lamp in it.

Johhny Quong's Tiki Table lamp from the collection of 8' Tiki

Again, i cannot thank Oceanic Arts enough for their time and generosity is sharing their knowledge. It was a lot of fun and I will have to go back soon to help outfit my tiki bar with more great OA products.

[ Edited by: Tattoo 2015-04-23 16:44 ]

On 2015-04-22 18:44, Dustycajun wrote:
Well thanks Skip.

Here are two old Tiki table lamps that are in use at the Hala Kahiki.


the ku tiki isnt old- it's probably late 90's early 2000's

the ku face lamp below it is definately not old. I know because i made those lamps for hala kahiki years ago, about the same time as they were replacing the older damaged table lamps with ones like the standing ku above and mine.

Saw this today
Not sure what to make of it

PMP Porcelain Peanut Candle Holder. Made of white porcelain with light highlights on body, and a brown band on top. Open bottom to cover candle. Glows very nicely with just a tea light. It is 8.25" (21cm) tall and 2.75" (7cm) wide at the base. Has a black metal handle attached to back at top and bottom for lifting up off candle when hot. Unmarked and may have had a flat bottom tray or may have been set on a plate, note the air holes on the bottom.

The condition is great, found on Ebay. I have not seen another, wondering if anyone else has. Thanks much all!


Here is mine. It has a pronounced lean to it. I believe a couple of others have shown up in the threads before. I have not seen the handle before and I have not seen a base for the shade yet. It would be great to see the complete package.

On 2015-06-10 14:47, uncle trav wrote:
Here is mine. It has a pronounced lean to it. I believe a couple of others have shown up in the threads before. I have not seen the handle before and I have not seen a base for the shade yet. It would be great to see the complete package.

Thanks Tray, I would love to see one complete as well.

This thread, and especially this page, is such eye candy! - which, to this degree, still can only happen on Tiki Central.

All those lamps - where have they gone? Great post about the Illuminee Company. I got this one from O.A., they must have gotten it as a sample:

No, not Tiki - but oh so Iluminee! I must have seen dozens of mid-century restaurant photos where these lamps - or lamps like this - were on the tables….I just can't pinpoint them right now :)

Funny how Illuminee used existing hardware of the time (like Witco), like the brass screen, and those little brass balls. The marble base makes this one a heavy puppy.

Here's a larger table lamp from a Stanford, California clothing store ad dated 1958. This would be more of a household decor piece than a restaurant table lamp.


Great stuff guys. Here are some from my home bar. I found these vintage beauties a couple of summers ago. Made of heavy pottery and painted. Not sure if the are a hobbyist project or production pieces for home decor as they have no markings. The quality of the molds and painting are very good.

Hi all,

a friend sent me these pictures.
he told me this Lamp were used at the Mai-Kai in the late 70's early 80's.
I have no idea where he has this from or how it came to Switzerland.
but I stay tuned..

[ Edited by: HelveTiki 2015-10-29 07:34 ]


Here's a great old souvenir photo I saw on ebay from Bob Brooks' Seven Seas that shows a rather standard nautical table lamp.

A little different than everything else we have seen in that it is electrified (most are candle based).

And here's one from the Hawaiian Room:

It does seem that these flotsam and nautical themed lamps was the standard in the pre=Polynesian pop restaurants and bars. But cool nevertheless.

[ Edited by: Tattoo 2015-12-20 12:23 ]

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