This lamp that recently appeared in an auction was interesting. Consigner and owner, Andy Pruitt of A&L Antiques in Wichita, KS had added information about the single name appearing on its shade tag, MACDONALD. So, what was immediately identifiable as Bigelow & Kennard, apparently was not. Andy pointed to additional information on Wikipedia about a stained glass maker, Donald Macdonald (1841-1916).
He was a well known and important maker of stained glass and made his mark at various studios. One such position included a period at McPherson from 1872 through 1876.
In the Wikipedia article, there is mention of Macdonald's son, Donald Newton Macdonald (1877-1924). It stated that he was the head of the stained glass lamp department at Bigelow & Kennard. In our limited knowledge of this company, it had been widely thought that Homer Bigelow held this position, which also may still be true depending on dates.
While this link to Bigelow is very useful and certainly helpful as another name to chase down, the maker of this particular lamp is still uncertain.
Later in his career, Macdonald Sr. started a studio of his own named Macdonald & Company. In this company were his son Donald Newton Macdonald and daughters Flora and Ruby. Flora was an accomplished stained glass craftsperson in her own right. As Macdonald Sr. was at McPherson until 1876, it would be helpful to know when Macdonald & Company was actually formed.
As the lamp is foiled, it would likely have been made from 1904 onwards, so well after his time at McPherson and possibly during the Macdonald & Company days.
Given that the mark is just simply ‘Macdonald’, it's unknown who exactly made this lamp.
Several possibilities exist as to which Macdonald was responsible. It could have been a starter or one of any number of prototypes by craftspeople at Macdonald & Company. It could have been any of the Macdonalds themselves. It is also not unreasonable to suggest that Donald Newton Macdonald joined Bigelow on the strength of this lamp. Being a prototype, a sample or precursor of designs he could bring to Bigelow & Kennard would make him an attractive hire. Until we know more about Bigelow & Kennard and the tenure of people there, a final possibility exists that Donald Newton made it after Bigelow lamp department was closed.
About this shade
It's an important and superbly crafted lamp.
The photos on this page were kindly supplied by two different owners. First owner, Andy Pruitt of A&L Antiques (eBay Antiqbrokr), shows the lamp as found supported by a J. A. Whaley base. The glass is an opalescent with dark green at the top. The lamp stands 25" tall; the shade measures 6" tall and 20" across.
Second owner, Bill Lowe (eBay Bluegracymay), subsequently substituted the base for a Grueby pottery one. This pottery base complements the shade perfectly and reflects Bigelow's common practice of pairing some of their lamps with Grueby bases. Thanks to both Andy and Bill for sharing these pictures.