The Guild: Ken Kelly

Re-creating the past
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Shown with Vintage’s reproduction of a Stickley “Heart’” chandelier, Ken Kelly has been buying, selling, and reproducing historic lighting for more than 50 years.

Shown with Vintage’s reproduction of a Stickley “Heart’” chandelier, Ken Kelly has been buying, selling, and reproducing historic lighting for more than 50 years.

It was over 40 years ago that Ken Kelly founded Vintage Hardware & Lighting, but it wasn’t his first rodeo. Born into a family who sold antiques, Kelly was briefly stationed in Edinburgh, Scotland, during military service. After he was discharged, he returned to that historic city and, in 1968, opened an antiques shop and export business. Kelly soon became expert in antiques restoration, and he developed relationships with U.K. casting foundries. By the mid-1970s, he had saved enough money to buy a small foundry in the United States. Kelly made his first reproductions in 1978.

The Vintage Hardware showroom in Port Townsend, Wash., is patterned after old, urban, cast-iron buildings.

The Vintage Hardware showroom in Port Townsend, Wash., is patterned after old, urban, cast-iron buildings.

Since then, the business has continued to expand. In 2019, Vintage opened its new proto­type and limited-production custom lighting shop in Port Townsend, Washington. The company not only re-creates hardware and lighting from antiques in its collection, but also fabricates and casts new designs in the 12,000-square-foot shop, which employs 15 to 20 people. Kelly designs what appeals to him, but every fixture is backed up by historical research.

The four-arm, close-to-the-ceiling pendant fixture is in early-20th-century Mission style.

The four-arm, close-to-the-ceiling pendant fixture is in early-20th-century Mission style.

“We do a lot of fabrication off of old photos,” says Kelly, who has researched lighting at archives all over the U.S. and beyond. “We work with ar­chitects who design and build Arts & Crafts homes and are experts in the designs of that era. Often we are asked to create specials for these homes.”

Vintage Hardware & Lighting’s capabilities now include sand and die casting, stamping, lost-wax casting, lathe turning, and finishing. Remark­ably, most of its highly accurate reproductions are very affordably priced. And many accept LED technology.

This is a hard-to-find reproduction of the “Heart” newel-post light, one of Gustav Stickley’s most popular designs.

This is a hard-to-find reproduction of the “Heart” newel-post light, one of Gustav Stickley’s most popular designs.

A visit to the Vintage Hardware showroom—the exterior is patterned after cast-iron buildings found in New York and other cities—is like step­ping into the past. New and old lighting fixtures and hardware mingle with antiques of every imaginable genre, including some completely un­expected ones. If you go, be sure to visit the Kelly Art Deco Light Museum, a remarkable glimpse into lighting made between 1928 and 1938. Many items on display, especially the slip shades, are exceptionally rare.

Ken Kelly
Vintage Hardware & Lighting
Port Townsend, Wash.
(360) 379-9030
vintagehardware.com

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