A month ago, Dustin Soyring could easily get some of his favorite vintage lightbulbs for $45. Now those same incandescent orbs can cost over $500 a piece—and he only has himself to blame. “I inadvertently caused the Aerolux market to skyrocket, and prices online are at record levels,” Soyring tells AD. The lights in question, which were produced by Aerolux Light Corporation, are pieces from the company’s Electric Flowers line. Appearing like radiating blossoms inside glass bottles, the bulbs have recently garnered increased attention thanks to a TikTok Soyring posted two weeks ago.
The video, which quickly went viral, has amassed over 7.3 million views and thousands of comments from virtual admirers since it was uploaded on August 30. “This is the most majestic thing I’ve ever seen,” one person commented. “I’m crying I want it so bad,” another added. Soyring attributes this overwhelming fanfare to a lack of public knowledge. “Although [the bulbs] are not super rare, the majority of them are in private collections and have been forgotten about by the public,” he explains. But like the stems in the lights, love for the bulbs is radiating anew thanks to Soyring’s reminder on social media.
According to Soyring, Aerolux started making the lights in the 1930s and continued to produce them until the mid 1970s. The interior sculptures are “made of steel and coated with phosphors, which give off color when energized,” Soyring explains. A 1938 article published in The New York Times describes the bulbs at a gift show, noting that the company used the event to introduce designs including flowers, Mickey Mouse, and pink elephants in the bulbs. Much of the products’ innovation can be credited to the company’s president, Philip J. Kayatt, who held multiple patents for his light designs and was a prominent figure in the installation of neon lights for advertising on Broadway.
With the outpouring of interest in Aerolux, prices for the once-forgotten lights are now surging. Soyring has seen the vintage lightbulbs selling for as much as $500 a piece and recently sold a few from his own personal collection. “I listed a few I showed on TikTok on eBay, and one bulb alone sold $570,” he says. Currently, a number of eBay listings for the Electric Flower lights have multiple bids with prices around $150, though the auctions are still open for a few more days. Though the company created multiple sculptures, flowers remain the most popular, he notes.
Soyring suspects climbing prices are mostly due to the fact that there are so few modern alternatives to Aerolux. “There are zero manufacturers today offering bulbs with flowers inside that have the same aura and detail as Aerolux,” he concludes. “Judging by what I see, unless a company is going to come forward and reproduce bulbs with the same detail quality as the originals, I don’t see the Aerolux market coming down anytime soon.”