Mixed results for Tiffany Studios at Doyle New York auction

Doyle New York held its Belle Epoque auction last on September 23. Over 30 lots of Tiffany Studios items came to the auction block, with mixed results. None of the lots were exceptionally rare or unusual, so these results were predictable. Unfortunately, Doyle does not retain its photos online for posting on this blog, so I used my file photo for one lot.

A 20″ diameter Daffodil table lamp came to the block with a pre-sale estimate of $40-60,000, a bit on the aggressive side. $30-50,000 would have been more appropriate. It was bid to $35,000 and did not sell.

Tiffany Studios 18" diam. Whirling Leaf shade, very similar to lot #285

Tiffany Studios 18 inch diam. Whirling Leaf shade, very similar to Doyle lot #285

An 18″ diameter Swirling Leaf shade only, without a base, was estimated at $8-12,000, appropriate for this item. It sold for $10,625, including buyer’s premium.

Vases did OK, with a 14″ blue Favrile glass trumpet vase reaching $2,500, a blue Tel el Amarna vase bringing $4,375 and a gold vase with millifiori decoration selling for $3,375, all including buyer’s premium.

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.

Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. philchasen@gmail or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website. chasenantiques.com

Tiffany desk set items sell very well at Stefek’s Auction

Stefek’s Auctioneers of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, held an auction tonight. It was a well-rounded sale with furniture, lighting, paintings, etc. I only had interest in two lots in the sale, #257, a Tiffany Studios Byzantine perpetual calendar frame and #258, a Tiffany Studios Abalone desk set.

Tiffany Studios Byzantine calendar frame, lot #257

Tiffany Studios Byzantine calendar frame, lot #257

Original perpetual calendars come with a set of month and date cards that allow for every possibility, so they can be rotated monthly to make the date come out on the correct day of the week. Nowadays, they’re more useful as photo frames. Byzantine is a rare pattern, probably because it was quite expensive when new. It comes with many jewels inset in the design, but not always the same colors from set to set. Coral, white and dark blue are some of the other colors I’m familiar with. Stefek’s lot #257 came with turquoise round jewels and deep green, diamond-shaped jewels. This example seemed to be in especially fine condition. The pre-sale estimate was $2-3000 + 15% buyer’s premium. I was prepared to bid to about $2500 as perpetual calendar frames are small and Byzantine collectors are few and far between. To my pleasant surprise, the frame sold for $7475 — quite a sparkling result. If I’m not the buyer, I like strong prices. They show me that the market is alive and well.

Tiffany Studios Abalone desk set,  lot #258

Tiffany Studios Abalone desk set, lot #258

The next lot in the sale, #258, was a Tiffany Studios Abalone desk set with some very nice items, including the best item, a frame, and the second best item, a scale. Some of the items showed considerable wear but the better items seemed to be in good condition. The pre-sale estimate was $12/14000 — quite aggressive in my opinion. I was prepared to bid $7-7500. The lot sold for $9775, including the buyer’s premium — a fair price. If I had been the successful buyer, I would have sold all of the items individually, giving different collectors the chance to buy an item or two.

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.

Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. philchasen@gmail or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website. chasenantiques.com

French Cameo Glass sells well at Doyle’s Belle Epoque Auction

Doyle New York had its Belle Epoque auction today with a very nice selection of French cameo glass. The overall results were solid with a few items doing very well.

Daum Prairie vase, lot 356

Daum Prairie vase, lot 356

First up was a group of Daum vases. One of the nicest of the group was a small Prairie vase, which is a rare and desirable model. This model always comes with a plethora of small flowers in a field. The flowers are hand-painted with enamel and fired. Lot 356 was small at 5″ and a good example of a Prairie vase, but certainly not the best. It carried a pre-sale estimate of $5-7000 and sold for $6250, including the buyer’s premium — a very good price.

Daum winter tumbler, lot 364

Daum winter tumbler, lot 364

Lot 364 was a 4½” Daum diamond-shaped tumbler with a winter scene that sold for $3750, including buyer’s premium — again a very nice price for a small, but very nice example. The pre-sale estimate was strong at $3-4000.

Le Verre Francais vase, 'Papilon', lot 317

Le Verre Francais vase, 'Papilon', lot 317

The nicest of the Le Verre Francais vases was a 13¾” Papillons example with colorful butterflies. It carried a conservative pre-sale estimate of $25-3500 and sold for $4687.50, including buyer’s premium. The other Le Verre vases that were sold were more common and brought commensurately less.

The Gallé vases that were sold were all decent, but none exceptional. The best of the group was a clear glass, early enameled Crystallerie vase, 13″. Doyle didn’t think highly enough of the vase to picture it in their catalog, but it should have been. It carried a pre-sale estimate of $15-2500 and sold for a strong $4375, including buyer’s premium. The others vases sold for less, as they were not as desirable. Early Galle vases have risen in popularity in the last few years, mainly as a result of strong Japanese interest.

Tomorrow, the results of the Tiffany Studios items sold in this auction.

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.

Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. philchasen@gmail or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website. chasenantiques.com

What is Art Deco?

The Chrysler Building in New York City

The Chrysler Building in New York City

The Art Deco movement began developing in the 1910s during a transitional period from the Art Nouveau movement. It was in full bloom by the 1920s and 1930s. Art Deco is characterized by stylized designs of people and flowers, as well as geometric designs, and is frequently symmetrical. This is the total opposite of Art Nouveau, where asymmetry is the usual rule. European works of Art Nouveau art trumped American examples, but not necessarily so with the Art Deco movement. There are exceptional examples on both sides of the pond.

An entrance to Rockefeller Center in New York City by Alfred Auguste Janniot

An entrance to Rockefeller Center in New York City by Alfred Auguste Janniot

New York City has some of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the world. The Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center are prime examples. In collaboration with famous European artists, the French sculptor, Alfred Auguste Janniot, was employed to create a superb Art Deco, gilded bronze entrance to Rockefeller Center.

Le Verre Francais Poissons vase

Le Verre Francais Poissons vase

In France, Charles Schneider fully embraced the Art Deco movement and created the finest glass of the period. The designs were stylized and symmetrical. The technique was acid-etching and the vases were signed “Le Verre Francais”. The colors of Art Deco glass are bright and happy as opposed to the mostly true-to-life colors of the Art Nouveau period.

Icart etching 'Speed II', 1933

Icart etching 'Speed II', 1933

Louis Icart was most popular during the Art Deco period. His art became more Art Deco as the period became more popular. Here is an example of one of his famous etchings, entitled Speed II, published in 1933. It’s more Art Deco than his original version which was published in 1927 and was very successful. Notice especially the change in the woman’s hairdo.

Speed I on the left and Speed II on the right

Speed I on the left and Speed II on the right

By the early 1940s, the Art Deco movement had pretty much run its course, but its popularity is very much alive today.

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.

Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. philchasen@gmail or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website. chasenantiques.com

What is Art Nouveau?

Alphonse Mucha poster "Job"

Alphonse Mucha poster 'Job'

The Art Nouveau movement started in the 1890s, drawing its inspiration from nature. Women, flowers and insects were pictured realistically with curved flowing lines that were rarely symmetrical. A poster by the Austrian artist Alphonse Mucha for the cigarette paper “Job” (pronounced “johb”), is a famous and marvelous example of Art Nouveau art.

Casa Batlló, a Gaudi building in Barcelona

Casa Batlló, a Gaudi building in Barcelona

The Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, was a great proponent of the Art Nouveau movement. His famous buildings still exist in Spain, mostly in Barcelona.

Emile Gallé dragonfly table

Emile Gallé dragonfly table

In France, the Art Nouveau movement flourished with Emile Gallé at the forefront. He created some wonderful examples in both glass and wood, often incorporating a dragonfly into his work, one of the quintessential symbols of the Art Nouveau period. Sometimes in glass, two similar examples exist, one with and one without a dragonfly. The value can double with the incorporation of a dragonfly into the work. How about two or three dragonflies? Even better.

The best examples of Art Nouveau are European, but there are some outstanding American examples, with Louis Comfort Tiffany leading the way.

The Art Nouveau movement started to lose its luster in the teens, when it underwent a transitional period, leading to the Art Deco movement in the 1920s and 1930s. More on Art Deco tomorrow.

Tiffany Studios Double Poinsettia table lamp with fantastic Art Nouveau root base

Tiffany Studios Double Poinsettia table lamp with fantastic Art Nouveau root base

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.

Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. philchasen@gmail or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website. chasenantiques.com

Some upcoming antique shows

Show exhibitors don’t have much say about when and where show promoters decide to put on shows. Consequently there are big holes in my schedule when there are no good shows. Some gaps make sense, like the month of December. Most folks are more interested in Christmas shopping than in attending antique shows. Many of the antiques I sell are too expensive for most people to give as Christmas gifts. But plenty of the items are not too expensive, such as Tiffany desk objects, which make great gifts.

Fall 2009 Chicago Merchandise Mart Antique Show, October 2-5, 2009

Fall 2009 Chicago Merchandise Mart Antique Show, October 2-5, 2009

I’ll be traveling back to the Chicago area for two shows in the month of October. The first is at the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. That’s a fun show to do because everything happens smoothly and for the most part, the dealers are treated very well. The public, mostly well-heeled downtown Chicagoans, gets a chance to see a top-notch show of national stature. I always look forward to this show.

	Fall Antiques Show & Sale at Arlington Park Racetrack - October 16-18, 2009

Fall Antiques Show & Sale at Arlington Park Racetrack - October 16-18, 2009

A couple of weeks later, I’ll be back in Chicago, but in the suburbs of Arlington Heights at the racetrack. There’s a very nice show there, under new management. It will be interesting to see what changes happen to the show as a result. I’ll also find out whether I’ll be exhibiting too many times in the same city within a relatively short period of time. I last exhibited in downtown Chicago the week before Labor Day. For the most part, the folks who attend the downtown Merchandise Mart are different than those who attend the Arlington show, so I’ve got my fingers crossed. I guess I’ll have to revise my show schedule for next year if three times within six weeks is too much.

The Denver Antiques Show, October 23-25, 2009

The Denver Antiques Show, October 23-25, 2009

Then on to Denver in the latter part of October. I just exhibited there for the first time in July and got a good reception from the folks there. Again I worry that maybe I’m returning to Denver too soon. I’ll let you know after the show.

The NYC Pier Antiques Show, November 14-15, 2009

The NYC Pier Antiques Show, November 14-15, 2009

The final show of the year will be the NYC Pier Antiques Show. That’s usually a big deal. The show is exciting first because it’s in New York City, but there are other important factors. The promoter of the show, Irene Stella, made some canny decisions years ago that seemed to have worked in the show’s favor, the most important of which was to make the show only two days long. Lots of people line up early on a Saturday morning to get a chance to be first. The crowd builds up quickly, which makes for a busy show. New Yorkers are famous for making their minds up quickly, so many sold signs start showing up in the show. That makes other people make up their minds quicker so as not to lose the items they’re admiring. Makes for a more exciting show than the usual one.

The second good decision was to seek a truly diverse group of exhibitors. It’s possible to buy a $100,000 Tiffany lamp or a $10 item of antique clothing and everything in-between. A good mix makes for a fun show. Lots of decorators attend the show looking for that special item. The show has been running for years, so people know to travel to New York, with some coming from as far away as Japan.

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.

Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. philchasen@gmail or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website. chasenantiques.com

Some treasures I’ve owned, part II, Tiffany Studios Favrile glass

Periodically I’ll write about treasures that I’ve owned and sold in my long antiques career. Today I’ve chosen a couple of wonderful Tiffany Studios Favrile vases.

Tiffany Favrile cameo vase, front and back views

Tiffany Favrile cameo vase, front and back views

Tiffany produced very few cameo vases, probably because of the difficulty in producing them and the high price they would have had to charge. The purple and green color glass is “padded” onto the vase when molten hot. The vase is then annealed and cooled. The rest of the work is done to the cold vase at a leisurely pace, unlike working with the glass when hot. All of the details of the leaves and the grapes is intaglio-carved by hand. Only the most skilled craftsmen had the ability to artistically carve the details and achieve such a special result. There were no shortcuts taken in making this wonderful vase.

Outstanding Tiffany Favrile flowerform vase

Outstanding Tiffany Favrile flowerform vase

Flowerform vases (also called floriform vases) were meant to look like growing flowers, so the classical Tiffany Favrile floriform vase has a skinny leg (the stem of the flower) and a beautiful cup (the flower itself). Some shapes are relatively common and some are special. They are as delicate and beautiful as the real flower. Not only is the shape outstanding on this particular vase, but it’s decorated in gorgeous, realistic colors. Many lesser Tiffany floriform vases are plain gold iridescent. This example is that one that I should have kept for myself, but unfortunately I can’t keep as many items as I would like or I wouldn’t have much of a business. This is probably my favorite of many Tiffany vases that I’ve sold.

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.

Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. philchasen@gmail or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website. chasenantiques.com

How to clean antique glass including Tiffany Studios Favrile and French Cameo Glass

Having sold many thousands of antique glass vases over the years, I’ve learned a lot about how to clean them from trial and error and a few mistakes. It also doesn’t hurt to have a Master’s Degree in Chemistry.

Most people are quite timid about using chemicals on glass. They’re afraid they’ll ruin the vase by removing the decoration or somehow damaging it. There are very few times this would actually be accurate. Cold painted decoration on a vase could be ruined by the use of some chemicals but Tiffany Favrile vases or French cameo vases by Daum, Galle, and others have no cold painting, so all of the steps I describe below are appropriate. If you suspect that your vase has cold painting on it, test a small area with one of the cleaners below, using a Q-tip. If the color of the paint comes off, use only the mildest cleaners.

Eco-House citrous thinner

Eco-House citrous thinner

The first step is to remove any substances that will dissolve in organic solvents such as mineral spirits or acetone (nail polish remover). There are some commercial products available that are also good, such as Goo Gone, available at stores like Office Depot, or online. Another product I like is citrous thinner, made from orange peels. It smells a lot better than the other solvents and is quite effective. Use this link if you’d like to order it. Eco-House, Inc.

Start by looking for anything sticky with your eyes and your fingers. Take a rag or paper towel and use just a little solvent. Rub the affected area until the dirt or stickiness is gone. Mineral spirits is a gentler solvent than acetone, so try it first. Mineral spirits is especially good for removing the gum from labels. Use acetone second, if you need a stronger solvent. These various solvents will also remove crayon, sap, or any similar substance.

Easy-Off Fume Free

Easy-Off Fume Free

Next we’re ready for aqueous cleaning. I suggest you do this in a sink. Most of the cleaners will make the vase slippery, so be very careful not to lose control and break your vase. The gentlest cleaners are dishwashing liquid or Windex. I like to use an old toothbrush. Scrub the vase with the first cleaner and see if the dirt comes off. If it’s stubborn, you can proceed to the next level of cleaning power with commercial products like Scrubbing Bubbles or Dow Bathroom Cleaner. Repeat the process. Spray the vase, let it sit for a few minutes and clean with a toothbrush or other similar brush. If that’s not strong enough, you can go to the highest level of cleaning power — Easy-Off. There are two types of Easy-Off available. The blue can, labeled “Fume Free” is the one I recommend. (It’s not really fume free, but not too bad.) It’s powerful and should remove any leftover dirt. Finally rinse your vase thoroughly in plain water and dry completely with an old towel. If it’s safe, let it dry upside down. It’s a good idea to use gloves to protect your hands, an apron to protect your clothing and glasses to protect your eyes. Easy-Off in the yellow can is lye (sodium hydroxide). It’s very powerful. It will eat through your clothes and skin as well as severely damage your eyes. Immediately flush with plain water if you have an accident. You’ll know you’ve gotten it on your skin as it feels very slimy.

To clean the inside of a vase, you’ll need various brushes to reach hard-to-get-to areas. Just use one of the sprays above, let sit, and brush away. Justman Brush Company sells hundreds of different brushes.

A vase whose glass has been etched on the interior

A vase whose glass has been etched on the interior

Vases that have been used with water over the years can present bigger problems. The first problem is the inside of the vase may be scratched. The second and more serious problem goes under the general category of “sick” glass and may include etching of the glass interior or depositing of lime or other minerals, which usually shows as a white deposit. Cleaners will not effectively fix these problems. The only real way to treat problems of this sort is to go to an expert who can “tumble” the vase to resurface the interior. It’s basically the same as sandpapering the entire interior — great for a transparent vase, but not as good for a vase that has a finish on the interior, like an iridescent vase. Use this link for Paul Nulton, who does this kind of work.

Sometimes with a minimum amount of work, the results can be quite gratifying. Many vases were kept in homes where the owners smoked or the air was smoky from fireplaces or stoves. This shows as a dingy brown overall covering. Cleaning this off can sometimes reveal unexpected bright and beautiful colors.

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.

Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. philchasen@gmail or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website. chasenantiques.com

Knowledge is power, part V

Bob Ogorek

Bob Ogorek

Bob Ogorek of Plantation Galleries in Davison, Michigan, was a friend of mine. Bob died in 1999 and I miss him. He called me in early 1999 to tell me about a Tiffany chandelier that he had learned about in upstate New York. Since I was a lot closer than him, he asked if I could go look at it. I took a drive with my wife and met the couple selling the fixture in an upstate town. A blownout fixture of this type could easily damage, so I asked the owners to check the glass carefully in the sunlight to make sure it wasn’t cracked. They assured me that the condition was fine. I was concerned the whole time driving up because I figured the day would be wasted if the seller’s were wrong.

An original Tiffany Studios photograph from Tiffany at Auction, showing an almost identical fixture but without a long rod

An original Tiffany Studios photograph from the bookTiffany at Auction, showing an almost identical fixture but without a long rod

We met in the parking lot of a supermarket to inspect the lamp. I held it up to the sunlight and inspected it with a fine-tooth comb. Everything was in order and I was delighted. I had never seen a chandelier like this in person, only in books. It was beautiful and very unusual, with a hinged turtleback tile door on the bottom to change the light bulb. I bought it for approximately $20,000. My arrangement with Bob was that we would buy it together and own it 50/50. It was a very difficult item to pack because the bronze rod to the ceiling could not be detached from the glass and it was 32½” long, overall. The sellers packed the blownout glass end carefully in a box and let the bronze rod stick straight up from the box, which was no problem as they had a van. I only had a station wagon, so I carefully put the chandelier on its side and drove home.

I called Peggy Gilges of Christie’s New York to consign the lamp for auction and met her on a sunny day at their warehouse in Long Island City. I removed the fixture from my station wagon and showed it to Peggy. She was very impressed and was oohing and ahing (is that how you spell ahing?). I held it up to the sunlight to show her the beautiful color when lit and suddenly saw a crack in the glass! I was horrified! How could that happen? I was so careful with handling and transporting it. I immediately took it back and went home crushed. $20,000 down the drain. How was I going to tell Bob?

I called him when I got back to explain that it had probably cracked from the pressure of the rod on the glass when it was riding on its side. Needless to say, he was more than a little disappointed. He asked me if I had insurance. “Yes”, I said. “Can’t you make a claim?” I didn’t know if I could, so I called my agent and asked him. He thought that I was probably covered under the accidental damage section of my policy. So I filed a claim and my insurance company agreed that yes, this was a legitimate claim. “How much are you claiming?” “$60,000.” “But why, you only paid $20,000?” “Because what I paid is irrelevant. I’m the expert and I say it’s worth $60,000.” The claims adjuster at my insurance company didn’t want to hear that, so he hired independent appraisers who said it wasn’t worth $60,000, but more like $25-30,000. So I was at an impasse with my insurance company when my broker intervened. He asked me if I would accept my cost back, with no deductible, and the damaged fixture. Sounded fair to me, so he talked to the adjuster, who also agreed. They paid me back my $20,000 cost and allowed me to keep the fixture. I was now the co-owner of a damaged fixture, but with a new cost of zero.

I then turned to Sotheby’s in New York City. I brought the fixture to them and met with Barbara Deisroth and Greg Kuharik in their offices. I showed them the fixture and they oohed and ahed (that can’t be how you spell ahed, maybe aahed?). “But Barbara, there’s a big crack here.” “Well, Phil, it doesn’t look too bad to me and it’s mostly hidden by the bronze cage. I think my clients will still want to buy it.” So I consigned the fixture to them for their 20th Century Decorative Works of Art sale to be held on June 10, 1999, with an estimate of $20-30,000.

Sotheby's New York, lot 370, June 10, 1999

Sotheby's New York, lot 370, June 10, 1999

The Sotheby's catalog description for lot 370, with my hand-written final price

The Sotheby's catalog description for lot 370, with my hand-written final price

The auction day was fast approaching and I couldn’t wait. My reserve price was $20,000, which meant that if the bidding stopped before $20,000, Sotheby’s would return the item to me as unsold. The bidding started slowly, $12,000, $14,000, $16,000, $18,000, $20,000. Whew! Now at least it was sold. But the bidding kept going — $22,000, $24,000, $26,000, all the way to $50,000, which is $57,500, with the buyer’s premium included. How exciting! This was as good as going to the racetrack and seeing your horse win. Not only did I do well at the auction but I was totally vindicated! I had told my insurance company that the fixture was worth $60,000 in perfect condition and here it had just sold for $57,500 in damaged condition. Since our cost was zero, Bob and I split approximately $45,000 after paying Sotheby’s fees. I was one happy camper!

Knowledge is power. Sir Francis Bacon, Religious Meditations, Of Heresies, 1597.

Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.

Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. philchasen@gmail or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website. chasenantiques.com