Lamps designed by 'Tiffany Girls' at New-York Historical Society

- Louis C. Tiffany is known for transforming lamps by splashing color onto glass. Today, those historic pieces illuminate the fourth floor of the New-York Historical Society. The 4,800-square-foot gallery features 100 colorful lamps created starting in 1898.

It reveals the enormous range of color and texture Tiffany and his firm were famous for, but museum director Margie Hofer said the emphasis of this exhibit is not on Tiffany himself.

"For a long time people assumed lamps were designed by Louis C. Tiffany and that's a very logical assumption, but the discovery of some correspondence in 2005 changed that," Hofer said.

Letters written by Clara Driscoll reveal that women made several Tiffany lamps. Hofer said the women, formally known as the "Tiffany Girls," earned handsome wages and were paid on the same scale as men. That doesn't mean it wasn't controversial, though.

"At one point the men threatened to go on strike because they wanted the work on windows to be taken from the women," Hofer said.

The letters reveal Tiffany defended the women and kept them on staff until they married. Only single women were permitted to work at the firm.

Tiffany Studios filed for bankruptcy in 1932.

Some of its most gorgeous creations now shine permanently at the New-York Historical Society. 

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