In February 1940, A. G. Kirshbaum of Idealite, Inc. contacted the factory about the production of lamp bases. Idealite had a factory at 49 Freemont Street in Jersey City, NJ and offices at 1140 Broadway in New York City. For most of March and April, Kirshbaum and Idealite's art director, Harry M. Laxer, communicated back and forth with J. D. Thompson and Frederick Rhead about lamp shapes, designs, and decorations. The Homer Laughlin China Company was not geared towards lamp manufacturing, nonetheless they attempted to see if it could be done.
Initially, Idealite wanted vases in, "...colors of pink, light green and beige with flower spray decoration." They also mentioned handles and bases in a light ivory color with body colors in maroon, dark blue, and dark green. The centers were to be left blank to allow for decals.
Five different shapes were modeled: two in March (#'s 1374 and 1376) and the rest in April (#'s 1400, 1414, and 1422). Samples of #1374 were sent to Idealite with crimson sprayed body and gold stamp centers along with gold bands along the bases and necks. They were also made with underglaze blue spray and floral decals and in vellum with gold stamps, lines, and bands. A single sample of #1374 was also dipped in Fiesta red. As for #1376, some were made with crimson sprays and O-79 decals. One was dipped in Fiesta's dark blue glaze and another in turquoise with a carved design in the center.
Sketches of the first four lamp bases modeled for Idealite in 1940.
On May 13th and 14th of 1940, the pottery put together quotes for making the lamps. Working up a quote includes many factors such as: modeling, casing, production, bisque placing, bisque drawing, firing, warehouse, dipping, saggers, decals, decal transferring, lining, gold stamping, gold, glost firing, tools, lab work, along with a host of miscellaneous expenses.
On May 16th, concerns of making lamp bases were expressed in a letter to Idealite from the factory. It read in part:
"...the complications of getting into the lamp base business are entirely too great to justify our trying it. It would seem highly improbable that any possible profit we made over a considerable period of time would cover the expense we have already put into it. To follow the instructions you gave Mr. Rhead would involve us in a much heavier additional expense. This would mean a long series of experiments in new glazes and colors and the working out of new manufacturing equipment with which we have had no experience and from which we would be very doubtful of any satisfactory results."
The two parties continued to negotiate even though it looked as if it would not work out. The factory sent one more quote on July 9, 1940 with four decorated samples ranging in price from $6.40 to $7.80 per dozen. Thoughout their communications, there was always an understanding there had to be a minimum order of 500 dozen of each.
An order was never placed and none of the lamp bases ever went into production.
At least five examples of Idealite lamp bases are known to exist. Two are on display at The Fiesta® Tableware Company's factory museum in Newell, WV.