A wall sconce is a type of light fixture that is attached to a wall. They can provide lighting to an entire room and are generally placed in hallways, corridors and rooms. Today these fixtures are used for both decorative purposes and functionality. In past eras wall sconces were made of silver and they were used to hold candles.

Silver Wall Sconce
A Victorian wall sconce

The earliest wall sconces were made of silver and they were once very popular in England. Many of these items have survived from the late 17th century and 18th century and today they can sell for a lot of money.

Silver wall sconces first appeared around the time of Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547). They became extremely popular from 1660 to around 1714. Examples of sconces made around this time are on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

One reason why wall sconces were popular was because these items were essentially pieces of art, and silversmiths needed a lot of skill to create them by hand. Antique pieces were made in a variety of different patterns. Most pieces featured back plates that were richly embossed. The most common pattern had a richly embossed back plate and one or two branches that had sockets. One popular variety had a human arm in the center of the back plate with a branch in hand.

Several antique sconces are owned by the Royal Family. Their sets of sconces were all made in high relief and the details are strongly defined. The silversmith's intention with these pieces was to project the most light possible.


Antique silver wall sconces are rare and they can sell for hundreds of dollars. Some early pieces can sell for over $1,000. Most antique silver plated pieces can sell for over $100.



The Book of Old Silver