The pandemic has done a job on antique shows. All shows were canceled starting in March, 2020. They’re starting to come back very slowly with our first show in a year and a half scheduled for Winnetka, IL, November 5-7, 2021.
The Baltimore Antique, Art & Jewelry Show, originally scheduled for August, 2020 was rescheduled to August, 2021 and then to November, 2021. Now the 2021 show has been canceled and rescheduled to October 20-23, 2022. That means the Baltimore Summer Antiques show is no longer a summer show, but rather a fall show. That will be interesting, and I think an improvement.
Sotheby’s offered 30 Tiffany Studios objects, including 14 lamps, 12 Tiffany Favrile vases and 4 miscellaneous objects in their Important Design: from Noguchi to Lalanne sale on May 25, 2021. Following are a few of the more interesting results.
The top result of the lamps was achieved by lot #14, a rare Fruit lamp on an equally rare Turtleback base. It sold near its high estimate of $500,000, realizing $564,500, including buyer’s premium. This base also comes in a variation with mosaic tiles in the grooves. If it had had mosaic tiles, it certainly would have achieved a higher price, possibly hundreds of thousands more.
The top lot of the Tiffany Favrile glass went to #9, a rare, huge, 18¾”, Peacock Feather vase. It sold well above its high estimate of $18,000, realizing $30,240, including buyer’s premium. Had it sold for a lower price, I still wouldn’t have been the buyer, as I have difficulty selling tall, slender vases.
Sotheby’s offered one Tiffany window in the sale, lot #13, a beautiful River of Life example, 48¾” x 28¾”. It sold for $226,800, against an estimate of $150,000 – $200,000, in keeping with the recent strong results for windows.
Christie’s New York held a Tiffany sale on May 26, 2021, including windows, lamps and accessories, with gross sales of $3,903,975. The windows led the charge with outstanding results. Following are three of them.
Lot #114 was a magnificent, signed, 27″ x 48″ scenic window from 1915, when Tiffany Studios was at the height of its prowess. Estimated to sell for $600,000 – $800,000, it realized $1,470,000, including buyer’s premium. I spoke to the underbidder who was kicking himself that he hadn’t bid more. Another window, lot #126, also greatly exceeded its estimate of $30,000 – $50,000, realizing $281,250, including buyer’s premium. They were the top two lots of the sale.
The top lamp of the sale was lot #104, a lovely 20″ diameter Pond Lily model on a Twisted Vine base. It exceeded its high estimate of $150,000, realizing $200,000, including buyer’s premium.
The fourth best lot in the sale, #122, was a chandelier. It sold for almost double its high estimate of $80,000, realizing $150,000, including buyer’s premium. What the buyer may not have been aware of was the missing parts (shown above on the right).
There is no single, correct Daum Nancy signature. In fact, there are many different original ones. Let’s break it down. Daum was the family name of the Daum Frères (Brothers). Nancy was the name of the city where the Daum factory was located. It has nothing to do with the lady’s name Nancy. Daum always included the two bar Cross of Lorraine as part of its signature. It is the emblem of Lorraine, the eastern region of France, near the German border.
The type of signature mostly depended on the techniques that were used in making a vase. For instance if black enamel were being used on a vase that was both acid-etched and enameled, the chances were good that the signature would be found underneath, in black enamel (or whatever color the artist was using). It makes sense. The artist was working on a vase and already had a paint brush in hand with black enamel on it. After the decoration was completed and the vase signed, it went back into the kiln. The firing fixed the decoration and the signature permanently.
The example above is a black enameled Daum Nancy signature. This particular example also has the initial A of the artist. Unfortunately I don’t know of the existence of a list of decorators to be able to identify the artist. No two enameled signatures would be alike because it depended on the handwriting of the artist. Each artist has his or her own distinctive signature.
Acid-etching is the most common technique used to produce French cameo glass. It’s what makes cameo glass cameo, which is an acknowledgment of the raised nature of the decoration. A cameo signature is the way most acid-etched vases were signed.
Sometimes vases were accented with gold decoration. It was hand-painted, then followed by firing and burnishing. Again, the artist already had a gold brush in his hand, so why not use it to sign the vase? It became permanent after firing. (See the example below.)
Wheel-carving, sometimes called intaglio-carving is a technique where fine details are hand-engraved with a spinning wheel. Only the best artists were talented enough to do it. Signatures were frequently hand-engraved when a vase had been wheel-carved. Another example of using what you have.
So what we’ve learned is that the type of signature was frequently determined by expediency. Whatever brush or tool was already in hand was used to signed the work, at least most of the time. There are many other Daum Nancy signatures, but the majority of them fall into one of the categories above.