Friday, October 7, 2011

Lamp Shop Revealed

When a framing shop shuttered on 2nd Ave. and 52nd St., workers tore down the awning and uncovered a ghost sign, complete with an old telephone exchange--PL3--which I'm assuming stood for "PLaza." Thanks to reader Sean for sending in this photo of Louis Mattia's lamp shop.



For decades this shop was beloved by designers, decorators, and people who just loved lamps. Liberace shopped here for antique lighting fixtures.

In 1990 Mr. Mattia told the New York Times, ''I love lamps. I'm crazy about them.''

Not only did he repair them, he also made custom lamps out of things like "a bunch of plastic grapes, fire extinguishers and even human skulls." He also made them out of musical instruments, as New York magazine featured in 1977:


New York, 1977

In addition, Mr. Mattia was renowned for his seemingly infinite collection of sconces. The man was passionate for sconces.


New York, 1989

Mr. Mattia passed away in 2004. His Times obit says he was "Known from 1960 to 1995 for his antique light fixtures at his Second Ave. store." Thirty-five years.

He left one piece of advice, also via the Times: "Never pull a plug out of a socket by the cord. 'Always pull it out by the plug itself.'"

10 comments:

Ellen Fagan said...

Words to live by, Mr. Mattia! :-)

Wow, I love an unfurled fragment of quirky New Yawk past. I've never been to this place, but it must have been WONDERFUL.I'm still grieving Mulberry Street's "Charles Ephraim," an amazing shop that sold bakelite, naughty jewelry & dollhouse furniture& was run by the most delightful couple on earth until high rents forced them out...

outwalkingthedog said...

I love this. And yes, you're right: PL stand for Plaza. Ah, the old NYC telephone exchanges of yesteryear, where are they now? RIP, TRafalgar, MOnument (in MOrningside Heights), MUrray Hill, PEnnsylvania, RIverside, TOmpkins Square ...

EV Grieve said...

I appreciate such dedication to a store... and craft...

And he's so right about the cord. I did that once. SPARKS!

ShatteredMonocle said...

Looks like "Chandeliers"...something something behind the gutter.

Melanie said...

He is missed. Never pull a plug out by the cord--I love his musical instruments lights. They rock. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend.

Mark said...

I loved Mr. Mattia. When I was in the trade, he made all our custom lampshades. Lined and interlined!!

Lidian said...

That is a wonderful sign - I wish I'd visited his store when I could have in the 70s. But I was a teenager longing for the Village, not lamps.

I loved the telephone exchanges. Mine was YUkon, of all non-urban things.

maximum bob said...

I actually remember walking by the
store one night in the 1970's and seeing a lamp that totally blew my mind...it was a black wrought iron
bat hanging from the ceiling on a black metallic chain, the bat's eyes
were small red lights.
I can still remember it through the fog of time...

Anonymous said...

I was DEwey, my aunt was CLoverdale, and my grandmother was BUckminster. All Brooklyn, of course.

Melanie said...

@ anon 5:58PM I was MAin in Brooklyn too. I had a friend with BUckminster and a friend who til this decade had CLoverdale...