Viewed from a distance, it is an unremarkable object. Place it on a corner table in any house, and it would probably pass unnoticed, for a while. Picking it up and holding it is another matter. The translucent quality of the material stretched over its eight panels should be attractive but isn't. The lampshade has a curious, waxy texture. You might convince yourself that the covering was some commonplace form of tanned parchment, were it not for its yellow-green opalescence and the fact that embedded in one or two areas of the material are thin, white filaments, slightly thicker than cotton, that have the appearance of very finely minced squid. It seems somehow surprising that it has no smell.Jacobson was at home in Brooklyn when he took Henderson's call. His friend had just bought a marching drum, stained by flood water, from a yard sale.
"He said the guy he'd bought it from, called Dave Dominici, asked him to look at something else. Dominici said: 'I can tell you will really want this thing.' And he took out the lamp. The stand was modern, but Skip immediately noticed the shade, which was old and had a European fitting. He used to sell vintage guitars and he'd talked to me about how German and other European solder is different in colour from what they use here. He knew the solder on this lampshade wasn't American. Skip asked Dominici: 'What's this thing made of?' and he said, 'The skin of a Jew. Collector's item. $35.'
The lampshade that drives its owners mad: Strange truth behind 20th century's most disturbing object - Europe, World - The Independent