My Favorite Apple

Macintosh Picasso Dealer Lamp Sign

Written By: Scott - Mar• 02•13

For collectors of vintage Apple memorabilia the closest thing to getting Macintosh, the machine, is the highly colorful Macintosh Picasso dealer lamp sign. If you’ve yet to see one up close, let me tell you it is every bit as cool in person as it is in pictures. I shared it with our friends over at My Favorite Apple’s facebook page, but wanted to add it to my notebook here.

I’ve been hunting one for several years now. On eBay most have had a starting price more than I could impulsively bid, usually $1,000 or more, so I’ve just been watching from the sidelines as they periodically come up for auction. Finally, one came up with a low starting bid and I jumped it. The auction ended with me as high bidder but the seller’s reserve wasn’t met, so he emailed me and we did a deal.

Here’s what I found out about this particular sign’s seller- he wasn’t just some dealer that sells Apple stuff, like most sellers there are.  Instead, he worked for an Apple dealer that received this lamp directly from Apple when the Macintosh was introduced in 1984.

I worked for a new Apple store in the early eighties (worked on the Apple II plus, Apple ///, and even the old Lisa) and when the store closed in the late eighties I somehow wound up with the sign because it made such a good night light. The Apple store was in Greenville, SC and I worked there from the time it opened until it closed around 1986. The sign was displayed in our showroom.

Here’s my lamp. I have it displayed at my office, just to show it off.

Macintosh Picasso Lamp

Macintosh Picasso Lamp

As I’ve tried to learn more about these signs and their history, Adam Rosen at The Vintage Mac Museum provides the most detailed info so far. In addition, Adam describes the lamp sign as,

The sign has the now-famous Picasso line art along with the name Macintosh etched into a 10″ x 10″ piece of glass, manually beveled and painted. The glass was mounted on a beige plastic base containing an internal flourescent light, illuminating the glass from below. When switched on the sign sparkles like crystal.

Unfortunately, I can’t peg the number of lamp signs Apple produced. Adam notes at the time Macintosh was introduced there was a total number of 1500 Apple dealers. Who knows if each one received one of these jewels or not.

The lamp stands about 15″ tall in all, the glass is a whopping 1/2″ thick and is the coolest piece of promotional Apple/Macintosh history I know of. The only odd thing is it has the mouse coming around the left side of the keyboard 🙂

 

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25 Comments

  1. Bryan says:

    Hello!
    I really enjoyed your post.
    I worked for ComputerLand in Kennewick WA in 1983 – 84 when the Macintosh was introduced. I loved the Macintosh from the beginning, but the Mac was a sideshow for ComputerLand. When the store owner threw away the Mac items, I asked to have them.
    I ended up with the framed Picasso poster, a battery Apple rainbow logo clock, and the Picasso lamp. I’m pretty sure all ComputerLand stores had the lamps.
    How much did you have to give for yours? Very cool purchase! Especially if you were able to buy it outside of eBay, which saved the seller a bunch of fees!

    • Scott says:

      Hey Bryan
      Glad you liked it. You are lucky to end up with original Apple collectibles like that. If you ever decide to sell the poster let me know. It’s on my bucket list.
      I was able to get mine for less than $500 and I’m tickled.
      Thanks for the tid bit about Computerland also being send the lamps…good info!
      Scott

  2. Jeanne Cochran says:

    I currently have an Apple Macintosh Picasso etched glass lamp, all original and the light still works. An Apple Macintosh Picasso poster, (original) and an Apple Macintosh logo’ed golf shirt – that says, “I’d rather be driving a Macintosh” original from 1984. Would you be interested in any or all of these items for your collection? I thought I would contact you first before I put them on Ebay. Let me know.

    • steven lee says:

      If anyone still has a Picasso etched glass lamp in very good/excellent condition, I would be interested.

      Thanks..

  3. Brian says:

    Scott,

    Great find! I was just out of college and working for a Computerland store in Tallahasse, Florida in 1985. We were Apple authorized and I was the only one willing to sell the “newer” technology. Everyone else fought for the IBM and Panasonic systems at the time.

    The store closed down in Summer of 1985 and I have had this light in my posession and stored ever since. It is beautiful as you know.

    Any thought of you owning 2 of these beauties? I do believe they were limited as Adam noted.

    I also have an old Sony Walkman with the Apple pin logo glued to it. They gave those to us to listen to the Apple Credit tapes and a few other things. (I might have to mention that to Adam as well.)

    let me know if you are interested in the other lamp or anyone else who might be.

    Thanks!

    Brian

    • Frank says:

      Brian,

      Might you still be offering this lamp for sale? Would love to own one, if the price is reasonable.

      I was an Apple employee for three years before leaving this past June.

      Please reply either way if you’d like to discuss.

      Thanks,
      Frank

    • Doug Tomlinson says:

      Brian,

      If you still have this by any chance, please let me know.

      Thanks!
      Doug

      • John Grace says:

        I have a original Macintosh Picasso Illuminated sign. I was selling Apple products in in Michigan in 1984. Looking to sell. It is in excellent condition and I can send pictures. Original Mac poster is also available. Video of the Making of the 1984 commercial is free with purchase of lamb.

        John

  4. Kurt says:

    Our local independent computer dealer went out of business in the 1980s. I bought their lamp and and the 128k cutaway Macintosh poster (framed) for $35 (of course that would have also bought you 5 shares of apple stock in those days),

  5. Max says:

    Great article. I am looking for this lamp and any other apple early collectables.

    Max
    gmaxim@gmail.com

  6. Peter Clark says:

    Hello all,
    I have one of the Picasso Mac lights – like many of the others posted here, I also worked for an Apple dealer back in the early/mid 80’s, and inevitably, the store also closed. When it was officially shuttered, the owners offered anything left to whomever wanted it, so I picked up the lamp. I would sell mine, for the right price, and I haven’t seen one on eBay or anywhere else for a while, so I suspect that the prices have increased given the gradual acquisitions by serious collectors. Caveat – mine has a very small chip in the top right-hand corner, so I wouldn’t be asking absolute top dollar for it…but close! 🙂

    If anyone is interested, please feel free to contact me at:

    sirwagunther@gmail.com

    Peter Clark

  7. P Kimmey says:

    I have several for sale. Email if interested

  8. J. Girton says:

    I’m glad to be in the number of those who own one of these lamps. I have had one for years and can’t remember where I even got it from. Someone just gave it to me I guess. It’s in perfect condition and I’ve always wanted to know what it was worth. I still have no real idea. I also have some of the other computers from the past.

    JG

  9. Damien says:

    I have one of these, well, just the glass actually. I hope to find the base for it someday. If you have any leads to one, it would be greatly appreciated. I have contemplated selling it, but I think without the base, it wont garner enough interest to make it worth it.
    The one I have has a few minor scratches, I have no idea how it got them. It was given to me about 20 years ago by a friend who knew I was a big Mac head, where he got it – I have no idea, but he did frequent flea markets & such quite a bit in the early 90’s.

  10. Gareth Wiliams says:

    Anybody willing to sell one of these Picasso Lamps?

    • C J says:

      I have one in excellent condition that I might be willing to part with. No chips and original light and base. Looks beautiful! Send you email address.

      C J

  11. Johnny says:

    I have one of these lamps for sale. Please contact jl@johnlytle.com for more info and photos.No chips or scratches in the glass.

  12. I have one in excellent condition that I think I got it in 1998 (during the time I served on the Apple User Group Advisory Council which met at Apple Headquarters in Cupertino).

    I was the founding president of MacNexus, the Sacramento Mac Users Group. I was president of the group from 1984-1990. I currently write a column for Interface, our monthly Newsletter. My column is titled, Way Cool Stuff; it showcases websites that are “way cool.”

    The website address I provided is that of MacNexus which provides monthly general meetings, workshops and troubleshooting assistance.

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