Color codes and lamp dating

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USA Cap Codes
USA Color Reference Chart
USA Screw Caps
Chinese Cap Codes

USA Cap Codes

Lamps that are capped with bottle caps have a date printed on them. On 32 oz. globes there are two big numbers printed on the left side of the cap that have the model number on them.

32oz globes

This lamp is model number 13 (clear/blue). It was made May 1st, 1994.

52oz globes

52 globes have a leading number added to them and usually a character at the end. In the example below the model is “116A”. It is uncertain what the first 1 or the A means, but this is a clear/black 52oz globe.

Sometimes Lava Lite ran out of their special printed caps and these were used. They are generic caps, but they use the same codes. They are not unique to the 52oz globes and can be found on 32oz globes as well.

USA Color Reference Chart

A full uncompressed image can be found here.

Noteworthy globes:

  • 07 Clear / Peach
    • Very rare combo that likely never left the factory. It was intended to be used for the Electric line, but due to shelf space availability in stores it was cancelled for and altered to be the #14 clear/pink that made it to the market. 
  • 11 Clear / Neon Yellow
    • Very rare combo only seen in the first runs of Electric models and was later swapped for the regular #08 Clear/ Yellow since Lava Lite thought that it was too neon of a yellow to be considered a true yellow.
  • 16 Clear / Chocolate
    • There is no official “16A”. The A was added by the author of the original color chart to notate that there was a deviation in color significant enough to be noteworthy. A “chocolate” globe is just a variation of a 16 clear/black and therefor will have a “16” stamped on the cap. It is so different that it actually does resemble molten chocolate. This makes the globe uniquely desired by collectors because it could have very well been marketed as a completely different color. The story behind this color is that it was a bad batch of #16 clear/black with an estimated production run of 2500 units. They were released with Safari Snake Skin and supposedly with the retro haze swirl.
  • 23 Blue / Green
    • Never left color testing due to it being dropped in favor of #24 blue/yellow because Lava Lite felt like it looked better.
  • WG glitter variants
    • 30, 31, and 32 came in “WG” variants. The model printed on the cap look as such. “30WG, 31WG, and 32WG”. If a cap is stamped with WG it indicates that the glitter in the globe is multi colored instead of just plain silver. These were early runs of the Wizard globes and possibly stood for “Wizard Globe”, but that is just a guess. These were phased out for standard silver glitter because they are more reflective and objectively look better.
  • 35 Teal glitter
    • This color was sold exclusively at Target according to the box, but it may have been sold in catalogs and online. This color is fairly rare compared to red, blue, and purple. However, it is not are rare as green, yellow, and orange.
  • 36 Green
    • This color may have only been sold as a promotional lamp for Tequiza beer or other very limited runs.
  • 37 Yellow, and 38 Orange glitter
    • These were only available in very limited quantities. Former employees mentioned some glitter colors weren’t widely distributed due to space available on vendor shelves. These colors may not have ever received a full production run.

USA Screw Caps

Lamps with screw on caps were usually sold with a sticker inside the cap that had the date printed on them. You may also find the date of the lamp printed on the bottom of the base. Screw top caps were used from 1965 until 1995 on 52 oz. models and until 1993 on 32 oz. models, after that they switched to bottlecap-type tops. Not every lamp will have the sticker as the glue tends to loosen up with heat and fall out of the cap. Without the sticker it becomes much harder to date a screw cap.

52 oz. Nov.1974

32 oz. model… Sept. 1980, Model 205

Rare base sticker with date… Sept. 1973

Rare stamped bottom of base… Nov. 1971

Chinese Cap Codes

Another unfortunate decision made by Lava Lite with their move to China was the loss of cap codes used to identify color combos. The numbers on the lamps now only denote the production run and the date. There is a lot of inconsistencies with how the caps are printed as well. This could be due to when the lamps were produced or possibly what factory in China produced the lamps. There are several different manufacturers at any given time producing lamps for Lava Lite. Really the only information you can gain from these is the manufacture date. You can also be certain if you see any of the caps below the lamp was made in China.

The date for the cap below is as follows.
May 8th, 2014
What 01 and B1 refer to is hard to say, but likely they have to do with batch numbers and no longer correlate to model numbers.