Buying Glass Arts
Unlike most earlier glass, the value of art
nouveau or art deco glass is dependent largely on its maker or
designer. This was the heyday of influential glass makers such
as Emile Gallé, Daum and Lalique in France, and Louis Comfort
Tiffany in America.
All named glass is widely collected, and the
best pieces are very expensive, but you can still find unmarked
pieces or smaller objects for relatively modest prices.
The best pieces, such as this lamp, are made
from hand-carved cameo glass, formed by fusing two or more
layers of coloured glass with the top layer carved to reveal the
colours underneath. Later machine-made versions are less
valuable and are identifiable because the carving is not so
deeply cut. An item like this would be worth £15,000 or more.
Gallé pieces are usually marked with a cameo
or incised-carved signature. If you see a star after the
signature, the piece was made during the first three years after
Gallé's death, between 1904 and 1907.
Glass made by the Daum brothers is often very
similar to that made by Gallé but can usually be identified by a
gilt signature, "Daum Nancy", on black enamel on the underside.
This vase would cost about £2,000.
Tiffany lamps have bronze or gilt bronze
bases. The shades are made from a lattice of bronze set with
small pieces of favrile (iridescent) glass, marked with an
applied bronze pad. A lamp like this would be worth at least
All types of glass made by the most famous
glass designer of the art deco period, René Lalique, are highly
collectable. His prolific output included car mascots, clocks,
lighting, jewellery, furniture and figurines.
Lalique pieces are extremely valuable. The
Bouchon Mûres scent bottle with tiara stopper shown at the top
of the page is worth about £15,000. But Lalique's distinctive
wares were also much imitated, so be alert for lookalikes.
How to identify a Lalique
The genuine article is characterised by:
- Inventive design.
If not, it could be by Marius E
Sabino, whose work is often reminiscent of Lalique's but
less elegantly proportioned. This opalescent vase by Sabino
would fetch about £500.
- Heavy weight.
Modern fakes are usually lighter in weight
than authentic pieces.
- Authentic colour.
With coloured glass, modern fakes
such as this red vase are sometimes in colours never used by
Lalique. The red Lalique-style vase is worth about £400,
while the real Lalique, the blue glass Sauterelle vase,
should fetch £5,000.
- Fine detail.
If it's opalescent glass, the effect should be more
noticeable on high-relief areas and less noticeable on thin
walls. Other makers also produced opalescent glass,
including Sabino and Etling. This opalescent figurine is by
Edmund Etling & Cie and is worth about £1,000.
- The maker's mark.
The real thing should be marked 'R Lalique' , possibly with
'France' and a model number. Sabino pieces are usually
marked with a moulded engraved signature.