A few results from Sotheby’s A Vision: The Collection of Michelle Smith sale, April 22, 2021


Sotheby’s New York held A Vision: The Collection of Michelle Smith sale on April 22, 2021, with impressive total sales of $42,868,648. Included in the sale were several lamps and miscellaneous items by Tiffany Studios. Following is a review of several of them.

For the most part, the results for the Tiffany Studios items were weak, which is interesting because the Tiffany market is actually quite strong at the moment. I can only attribute that to the fact that the lamps were not in a 20th Century sale, but rather in a single-owner sale. I certainly had no idea that Tiffany lamps might be in the collection of Michelle Smith. In fact, I had never even heard of Michelle Smith.

Tiffany Studios 20″ diameter Poppy table lamp, Sotheby’s lot #54

Lot #54 was a stunning Tiffany Studios 20″ diameter Poppy table lamp on a very rare water lily base. From the photo, it looked fabulous, but I wasn’t going to bid since I hadn’t previewed the sale. I just couldn’t afford to take the risk without first having seen it in person. It sold below its low estimate of $180,000, realizing $201,600, including buyer’s premium. Seems like a bargain to me. The base alone is worth at least $150,000 and the shade at least $100,000. I thought the lamp would sell closer to $300,000.

Tiffany 17″ diameter Dragonfly table lamp, Sotheby’s lot #86

Lot #86 was an important Tiffany Studios 17″ diameter Dragonfly table lamp; more so for the base than the shade. The background glass was only fair, but the wings were a lovely mauve color. I’d give it a 7.5. The base was a rare, important Dragonfly mosaic example. I’d give it a 10. Most of the time the shade is more valuable than the base, but not for these two lamps. It sold below its low estimate of $220,000, realizing $252,000, including buyer’s premium.

Tiffany Studios Pine Needle desk set, Sotheby’s lot #77

I gasped and giggled when I saw the result of a 3-piece Tiffany Studios Pine Needle desk set, lot #77. It sold for $13,860, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $1,000 – $1,500. I sell these same 3 pieces in the range of $3,500 – $4,500 all day long. Hey you, Mr./Ms. buyer! Please call or email me and I’ll help fill out your set for a lot less money!


A review of some recent sales


I’m anxious to get back to business at antique shows. The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show will be the first possibility, but the Palm Beach Show Group has not scheduled a date yet. I assume it’s because the Baltimore Convention Center is still being used as a field hospital for Covid related activities. The tentative month for the rescheduled event is November, 2021.

In the meantime, I’m still doing good business from my website. Following is a review of some recent sales.

Tiffany Studios 20″ diameter Dragonfly table lamp

I bought a fine Tiffany Studios 20″ diameter Dragonfly table lamp privately. It had very nice green mottled glass in the background with green jewels, olive green dragonfly bodies, red and green swirled wings, and red jeweled eyes. It sold to the first person I offered it to. I’m trying hard to buy more Tiffany lamps, but they’re very difficult to replace at fair prices.

Daum Nancy Birch Tree scenic vase, before cleaning
Daum Nancy Birch Tree scenic vase, after cleaning

I sent photos of a beautiful Daum Nancy Birch Tree scenic vase to a client. He bought it from the photo. When I received the vase, I saw that it was dirty, so I cleaned it. It wasn’t just dirty, it was filthy, probably from a smoker’s house. The difference was dramatic, as evidenced in the two photos above. The colors are vivid now, with beautiful yellows and purples, especially in the background trees.

Daum Nancy Berry vase

I sold the beautiful Daum Nancy Berry vase pictured above. Why it took a while to sell is beyond me. It was gorgeous. I had to discount it more than I would have liked, but I hope that made the buyer happy.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got some good Tiffany Studios items, especially lamps, that you’re looking to sell or trade. I’m also on the hunt for good pâte-de-verre by Argy-Rousseau and A. Walter and French cameo glass by Daum Nancy and Gallé. Please email me with your offers. I’ll write you a check and buy your items outright.


I tried to buy a couple of items at auction, but…


Monumental Le Verre Francais Poissons bowl

I tried to buy a rare, monumental (8½” tall x 16½” diameter) Le Verre Francais Poissons bowl at auction in France on March 16, 2021. I haven’t been selling much Le Verre Francais glass for several years, so I wasn’t really in the market, but this one was really rare. I also don’t like to deal in huge items and this one qualified as huge. Most of the time they’re not worth the extra space and effort.

The estimate was very low at €600 – €1,000. I was willing to pay €2,000, which equates to a landed cost in New York of $3,500, including buyer’s premium and shipping. At that price, I was willing to deal with the difficulties. The bidding started at a few hundred euros and jumped to €3,000 and then suddenly to €7,000. Finally a couple of determined bidders drove the final price to €16,250 ($19,500), including buyer’s premium. Wowza!

(I just found out yesterday, 4/12/21, from a client that the bowl is now being offered for sale by a European dealer for approximately $40,000. It was displayed at a recent fair.)

Gallé plum blownout vase

The next item was an exercise in frustration. I wanted to bid on a Gallé plum blownout vase at auction in France on April 10, 2021. The model is moderately rare, with pretty good color. The estimate was fair at €3,000 – €5,000. I did all my due diligence. I asked for a condition report and made arrangements to bid on the telephone. I even had the auction house confirm my phone bidding. So what happened? Nothing! They never called me. Argh! Dummkopfs!

But I have been successful in buying recently, so I can’t complain too much. I’ll try to list the new items as soon as I can.


Treasures can still be found at yard sales


Everyone dreams of going to a yard sale and finding a treasure, but what are the odds? Pretty slim, if you ask me; about as good as winning the lottery. But people do win the lottery and so do some yard sale buyers.

6¼” Ming Dynasty bowl

A simple-looking, 6¼” diameter, Chinese bowl was bought at a yard sale near New Haven, CT for $35 (without bargaining). The buyer suspected it was something good, so they sent a photo to the Chinese expert at Sotheby’s New York. And what a good move that was! It was indeed important.

The bowl was consigned to auction at Sotheby’s. They described it as An exceptional and rare blue and white ‘floral’ bowl, Ming dynasty, Yongle period, dating to the 15th century. On March 17, 2021, with an estimate of $300,000 – $500,000, it sold for $721,800, including buyer’s premium.

I’ve never won the lottery, but it has to be the same feeling. Congrats are in order. Well done! Had I been at that yard sale, I never would have even picked up the bowl. Knowledge is power. Even the knowledge to know you have to ask someone else. I do feel bad for the sellers who sold it at the yard sale. I hope the buyer would consider going back to offer a reward.

Click here if you want to see the lot described in Sotheby’s catalog. Click here if you want to read CNN’s writeup.



Cottone Auctions sold Tiffany lamps at their Fine Art & Antiques auction, March 27, 2021


Cottone Auctions, Geneseo, NY, held a Fine Art & Antiques auction on March 27, 2021. Included in the sale was a nice collection of Tiffany Studios lamps and objects. Following is a review of a few of the lamps.

Tiffany Studios 20″ diameter Pond Lily table lamp, Cottone’s lot #77

Lot #77, a beautiful 20″ diameter Tiffany Studios Pond Lily table lamp sold for $138,000, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $60,000 – $80,000. It was rare and gorgeous, so I wasn’t surprised by the result. It was the top lot of the Tiffany lamps.

Tiffany Studios 16″ diameter Daffodil table lamp, Cottone’s lot #78
Tiffany Studios 14″ diameter Tulip table lamp, Cottone’s lot #79

Strangely, in my opinion, the next lot, #78, sold for more than the following lot, #79. I thought the results should have been reversed. But alas, the bidders did not listen to me. (What is wrong with them??) Lot #78, a 16″ diameter Daffodil, sold for $61,200, including buyer’s premium, while lot #79, a beautiful 14″ diameter Tulip sold for $42,000, both including buyer’s premium. They each started with identical estimates of $30,000 – $50,000. I wanted to buy lot #79, but the price was too high for me to make a profit.

For the complete results of the sale, click here. You will have to sign in (free) to see the prices.

A review of some recent sales


Business has been surprisingly good during the pandemic, as I’ve been saying for the last year or so. Following is a review of some recent sales.

I traded a beautiful Handel Jungle Bird lamp from my personal collection for a rare Tiffany Studios Turtleback candlestick/lamp.

Handel Jungle Bird table lamp

Then I sold the candlestick. It was a good trade because everyone involved was pleased.

Rare Tiffany Studios Turtleback candlestick

I’ve been selling a lot of pâte-de-verre items by Argy-Rousseau and Walter, including a very rare Argy-Rousseau veilleuse (night light) called Fleurs et Bourgeons (Flowers and Buds), pictured below.

Argy-Rousseau pâte-de-verre night light Fleurs et Bourgeons (Flowers and Buds)

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got some good Tiffany Studios items, especially lamps, that you’re looking to sell or trade. I’m also on the hunt for good pâte-de-verre by Argy-Rousseau and A. Walter and French cameo glass by Daum Nancy and Gallé. Please email me with your offers. I don’t want your item on consignment. I’ll write you a check and buy it outright.


I tried to buy a couple of items at auction, but…


Emile Gallé Marquetry Verrerie Parlante coupe (The black spots are just dirt.)

I tried to buy a very rare and important Gallé marquetry Verrerie Parlante coupe at an auction in Rouen, France, on March 6, 2021. Gallé exhibited it at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900 (see the photo below). It had an inscription in French by the poet Marcelline Desbordes-Valmore (1768-1859); Tout ce ciel que je porte en moi-même caché. The quotation is the reason the vase is described as Verrerie Parlante (Talking Glass). The marquetry designation refers to the inlaid glass on glass decoration.

I had hoped to buy the coupe for €25,000, hammer price. I dropped out at €35,000. Apparently they didn’t need me because the final price was €165,000 ($201,300), including buyer’s premium. Silly me! It will either enter one of the best collections in the world or will be exhibited in a museum, as it should.

The coupe was exhibited in a showcase at the 1900 Paris Universal Exposition

The next day a very interesting Handel scenic overlay floor lamp came up for auction in Versailles, France. Go figure! It was originally estimated to sell for €1,200 – €1,500, but the auctioneers must have had some interest in the lamp and raised the estimate to €6,000 – €8,000. That was a foolish move in my opinion. Everything sells better when the estimate is low. It generates excitement because everyone thinks they’re in the game.

Handel overlay floor lamp

It sold for €3,800, or about $5,795, including buyer’s premium. The next bid was €4,000, or about $6,100. Shipping to the US would have added about $2,000, for a total of $8,100 landed in New York. Then the lamp needed some minor restoration to the metalwork of the shade and to the base, so let’s say $400. Now the total is $8,500.

I hadn’t sold one of these lamps in a long time, so I had to guess at today’s value. I’m an auction appraiser and authenticator for several important auction houses, so I would estimate the value at an American auction in the range of $6,000 – $8,000. And I could just as easily see it selling for $7,500 as $15,000. I didn’t have enough confidence in the result so I wasn’t willing to make the effort, incur the expense and take the risk.

I’m curious what you think the lamp was worth or what you would have been willing to pay for it. It’s water under the bridge, so now it’s just a game. Write to me and let me know. My email address is on my website. I don’t want to write it here because I get enough junk mail as it is.


The results of John Moran’s auction of The Alan Schneider Collection, March 2, 2021


Alan Schneider was the owner of an antiques shop called The Antique Traders on California Street in San Francisco for 50 years. I last visited many years ago. I tried to buy from him, but his prices were always too high for me. I also tried to sell to him, but apparently my prices were too high for him. So we did almost no business together that I can remember.

Alan Schneider

Alan passed away on July 15, 2020 at the age of 76. His estate was sold at John Moran Auctioneers in Monrovia, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles. Most of the items were medium quality, with very few standouts. I thought that Alan would have kept a few exceptional pieces for his personal collection, but if they existed, they weren’t in the sale.

Following are a few of the highlights.

Tiffany 20″ diameter Arrowroot table lamp, Moran lot #23

In my opinion, lot #23, a Tiffany 20″ diameter Arrowroot table lamp was the best lamp in the sale, with very unusual reddish color in the background. I tried to buy it, but unfortunately I was the underbidder. It sold for $40,625, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $30,000 – $40,000. That’s a fine price for a collector to pay, but not a dealer. Too bad. I really wanted this one.

Handel 18″ diameter Bird lamp, Moran lot #117

Part of the Schneider collection was a collection of Handel lamps. The best of the group was lot #118, a rare and beautiful bird lamp. It sold for $15,000, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $3,000 – $5,000. This is another lamp that I wanted to buy, but couldn’t because of the price.

Not everything in the sale was kosher. Lot #119 was a reproduction Gallé vase that was sold as authentic. It sold for $1,625, including buyer’s premium, against an estimate of $1,000 – $1,500. There also were quite a few other vases that were cut down and not mentioned in the condition reports. Looks like Moran can use a little outside professional help. (Hello! I’m available. I’m already the expert for many auction houses, but unfortunately I can’t name them here.)

A Gallé cameo glass landscape vase
Reproduction Gallé vase, Moran lot #119


More antique show news


Here are a few recent updates about antique shows.

The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show is held in the Baltimore Convention Center

The Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, which is usually held at the end of August, will this year become the Baltimore Fall Antiques Show, scheduled to take place some time in November. I’ll let you know when I find out the specifics. At the moment the Baltimore Convention Center is being used as a Covid field hospital where I assume they are administering vaccinations.

The Chicago Merchandise Mart

The Chicago Merchandise Mart show was canceled for 2021 and will return in the spring of 2022. Hopefully the world will have substantially returned to normal by then.

Our booth at the last Winnetka show

The promoters of the fall show in Winnetka, IL, sent out a dealer questionnaire. I replied that I would like to exhibit there in November. I guess we’ll have to wait for a decision from the promoters. So it’s a possibility.

Our booth at the last Miami Beach show

I assume that by winter 2022, the Miami antique shows will be back in operation. Sure hope so. It’s a wonderful chance to do great business and escape the winter. I look forward to it every year, and missed it greatly this year.

Tune in for updated information.


A review of some recent sales


Business continues to be good, especially French glass and Tiffany Studios lamps. Following are a few of my recent sales. These items are paid for and gone.

Original boxed set of Daum Nancy miniature vases

I just sold a set of Daum miniature vases in the original box from the retailer in France Delvaux, Rue Royale, Paris. All of the miniatures were superb examples, with two of them real rarities; the Rain and the Blackbird examples. It’s the coolest set I’ve ever owned or seen.

Tiffany Studios 18″ diameter Tyler Scroll table lamp

Tiffany Studios lamps have been easy to sell and difficult to replace. Unfortunately I only have a few left for sale. I just sold the example above; an 18″ diameter Tyler Scroll lamp. It was a very fine example, with rich color in the geometric band, a great patina and in superb condition.

Daum Nancy Rain veilleuse (night light)

Daum Rain scenes are rare and highly desirable. The tumbler above was converted into a night light at the factory simply by adding a cap with an electric socket. It looks lovely both lit and unlit.