What’s special about this Gallé vase?

For the foreseeable future I will publish once a week on Mondays.


One cabochon is the sun with acid-etched rays and the other is the center of a flower

Occasionally I sell a French cameo vase that is worthy of discussion. Today’s Gallé vase is quite interesting, incorporating a variety of techniques.

Notice the cabochons on this side of the vase are acid-etched

First notice the vase is transparent. That immediately tells you the vase is early Gallé, from the Cristallerie period in the 1880s-1890s. Then look at the giant applied cabochons, four in all, all different. One cabochon represents the sun, with acid-etched rays surrounding it. The others are the centers of flowers.

The “sun” cabochon has internal foil decoration, but no acid-etching

It’s interesting to note the presence of metal foil within the glass. How did they do that? There was only one way. As the molten vase was being formed on a punty (the metal rod  used to hold the vase), the metal foil was applied to the outside of the vase. While still hot, more transparent glass was applied over the entire vase, encasing the foil. Now it was inside.

Wait, there’s more. The vase was then rolled in powdered, colored glass on the marver (usually a flat metal table) several times and heated in the furnace between each application. This added a uniform colored layer of glass to the outside. Finally heated glass discs (the cabochons) were applied to the outside. Then the vase was ready for the annealing oven, where it cooled slowly over the course of a full day or more.

This is a fancy, acid-etched Gallé signature only found on early vases

We’re not finished as there’s no design on the vase yet. So it went to an artist who covered the vase with a resist (a waxy substance or other acid-resistant covering like bituminous paint). The vase then went into a tank of hydrofluoric acid, where the unprotected glass was eaten away. Voila, the vase then had a design, but was still unfinished.

Notice the wheel-carving in the background on the left, the internal foil and the acid-etching of the cabochon

The flaws in the background were removed by wheel-carving. (You can see the wheel marks when turning the vase in reflected light.) The very last step was to heat the outside of the vase with a broad flame. This technique is called fire-polishing and gave a shine to the exterior. The vase was finished and I’m tired just thinking about it!

I hope now you have a better understanding and appreciation of all the time and effort that went into this special vase.


Our next show is not until May 18-20, 2018, when we’ll exhibit at the 2nd edition of the resurrected Chicago Antiques + Art + Design Show at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. It’s a wonderful venue for a show that deserved to be restored from purgatory.

We’re still very much in business between shows, so please don’t hesitate to email or call. I recently listed some of the new items on my website and will list more every week. Click Philip Chasen Antiques to take a look. I will make every effort to actively list new items as often as time permits. I always strive to offer the finest objects for sale on my website and at every show. There are many items for sale, sold items with prices and free lessons about glass and lamps. And remember to keep reading my blog.

A $26 painting may be a $26 million masterpiece by Raphael

My goal is to publish new posts twice a week — Mondays and Thursdays. However, if you don’t see a new post on Thursday, it’s because I was too busy, so please look for a new one the following Monday.


raphael-madonnaDuring the filming of a BBC series entitled Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, a painting attributed to a minor Renaissance painter was determined to be a genuine masterpiece by the master Raphael. It’s an interesting story. Click here for the original article from artnet news.


winnetka-2016Our next show in Winnetka, Illinois, is just around the corner, November 4-6, 2016. This is our only fall show in the greater Chicago area (and probably our last show of the year). We always look forward to exhibiting there, especially to see all our friends and clients. Put it in your calendar. It’s a lovely show!

Click here to check my website for the latest items and to look around. I will update it as often as time permits. We’re still very much in business between shows, so please don’t hesitate to email or call. I always strive to offer the finest objects for sale on my website and at every show. There are many items for sale, sold items with prices and free lessons about glass and lamps. And remember to keep reading my blog.

This is why you buy from me

My goal is to publish new posts twice a week — Mondays and Thursdays. However, if you don’t see a new post on Thursday, it’s because I was too busy, so please look for a new one the following Monday.


Daum poppy vase with handles

Daum poppy vase with handles

I was offered a lovely Daum vase by a serious French dealer, with whom I’ve done a lot of business over the years. The decoration of poppies was particularly pretty and desirable, especially with the applied handles and gilding. I agreed to buy the vase. The dealer shipped it to me without prior payment, as we have a longstanding relationship.

A closeup of the regilded foot

A closeup of the regilded foot

It looked good in the original photo from the dealer, who I trusted not to send me a vase with problems. Boy, was I disappointed. The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was the strange gilding on the foot. It had been poorly redone with metal leaf. It stuck out to me like a sore thumb. Then came the handles — even worse. The two handles did not match each other in texture at all, nor did they match the body of the vase. They both looked like they had been spray-painted by a restorer of little ability. Do you think you would have known if you had purchased this vase? I doubt it. I venture to guess that most people would not have had a problem with it.

A side-by-side comparison of the two handles

A side-by-side comparison of the two handles

I felt like he tried to slip one past me, but that wasn’t going to happen. It’s going back to France and I’ll be out $73.25 return postage. The good part is you’re not going to buy it. I act like a filter, filtering out fake, repaired, ugly, unimportant, and common items. If I’m offering it for sale, it’s passed my inspection. And that’s why you buy from me.


I’ve been quite busy buying and selling recently, partly because I’ve listed many new items on my website. I will continue to list more daily. Please click here to take a look.

We’re still very much in business between shows, especially since there are fewer shows nowadays. Please don’t hesitate to email or call. I always strive to offer the finest objects for sale on my website and at every show. There are many items for sale, sold items with prices and free lessons about glass and lamps. And remember to keep reading my blog.

$33 million lost Fabergé egg discovered by Midwest scrap-metal dealer

My goal is to publish new posts twice a week — Mondays and Thursdays. However, if you don’t see a new post on Thursday, it’s because I was too busy, so please look for a new one the following Monday.

Fabergé Third Imperial Egg

Fabergé Third Imperial Egg, circa 1887

A Midwest scrap-metal dealer bought a golden egg with a clock inside for approximately $13,000, hoping to flip it quickly for a $500 profit. As luck would have it, he overestimated its melt value and wasn’t able to sell it quickly, giving him time to do a little Internet detective work. He typed “egg” and “Vacheron Constantin”, the name engraved on the clock, into Google and hit the jackpot. The information in a 2011 article in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper indicated that the egg might be a lost Fabergé Imperial Egg.

faberge-egg-2The dealer hopped on a plane to London to meet with Kieran McCarthy, the author of the article in the Daily Telegraph.  McCarthy is the Director of Wartski a firm specializing in Russian works of art, especially Carl Fabergé.  The dealer had no appointment, but just casually walked into the shop, wearing jeans, with a portfolio of photos.  McCarthy was so excited by the photos, he flew to the US to authenticate the egg.  He determined it to be the Third Imperial Egg, made in 1887, for Tsar Alexander III, as an Easter gift to his wife, Tsarina Maria Feodorovna.  It had made its way to the West when the post-Russian Revolution Soviets sold their treasures in a policy known as turning “treasures into tractors”.

With the Midwest dealer’s blessing, Wartski then sold the egg to a private collector, for an undisclosed amount, possibly up to $33 million. It was displayed to the public at Wartski from April 14 to 17, for only the second time in its history.  The first was at a 1964 auction. Now it’s back to privacy for the egg.  Who knows the next time it will be available for view by the public?  In the meantime, the Midwest dealer is basking in the sunshine of his good fortune.

This wonderful Daum Nancy fall scenic vase is just in

This wonderful Daum Nancy fall scenic vase is just in

It’s spring, so there are no shows, but we’re still very much in business.  Click here to view my new website and look around. We always strive to offer the finest objects for sale on our website and at every show. There are many items for sale, sold items with prices and free lessons about glass and lamps.

A couple of interesting surprises at Christie’s New York Interior sale, December 8, 2011

My goal is to publish new posts twice a week — Mondays and Thursdays. However, if you don’t see a new post on Thursday, it’s because I was too busy, so please look for a new one the following Monday.

Christie’s New York held an Interiors sale on December 8, 2011. Two lots that I was following had very interesting results.

R. Lalique vase Senlis, Christie's lot #82

Lot #82 was a gray R. Lalique vase, entitled “Senlis”. I knew that Senlis was a very good model because it had bronze handles. The problem was that I only knew enough about R. Lalique glass to be dangerous. I’m not nearly as knowledgeable about Lalique as I am about French cameo glass or Tiffany Favrile glass. I hoped that perhaps it would go unnoticed and slip through the cracks. Wrong! Estimated to sell for $2,000 – $3,000, it sold for $40,000, including the buyer’s premium. I would have gambled up to $10,000, but not more since I didn’t really know the value. Obviously others did.

French dolls, Christie's lot #235

Lot #235 was listed as: A FRENCH BISQUE AUTOMATON DOLL STANDING BEFORE A CHEVAL MIRROR, with an estimate of $800 – $1,200. The lot was actually two dolls — one seated and the second an automaton with a mirror. Apparently the dolls were way better than estimated, as they sold for $20,000, including buyer’s premium. Again, I knew enough about dolls to be dangerous. Many years ago, I bought about 100 dolls from one collection and learned the basics from that experience. So I knew that to sell for $20,000, there had to be something else going on. I never had a chance to examine the dolls in person, but I suspect that one was made by an important French maker, like Bru, Jumeau or others. That would explain it.

Knowledge is power. Need more proof?

Rare Tiffany Arabian lamp in glorious blue color

Look around my website. There are many items for sale, sold items with prices and free lessons about glass and lamps. I regularly add Tiffany vases, lamps and desk accessories, as well as French cameo glass by Galle and Daum Nancy and Louis Icart etchings. Here’s the link. chasenantiques.com

Rare Tiffany Studios andirons sell at South Bay Auctions on Long Island, December 10, 2011

My goal is to publish new posts twice a week — Mondays and Thursdays. However, if you don’t see a new post on Thursday, it’s because I was too busy, so please look for a new one the following Monday. There will be a post this Thursday about of couple of nice surprises at Christie’s Interior sale.

Pair of andirons, South Bay Auctions lot #263

South Bay Auctions of East Moriches, Long Island held a Fine Art, Antiques & Sporting auction on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Included in the sale were a pair of andirons that were sold as lot #263, with the following description: Pair of Art Nouveau nickel plated bronze torchieres with iridescent stained glass tops, 23-1/2″h; one misshapen, loss to plating. No estimate was listed for them. It’s likely they were sold without reserve.

Detail photo showing where the cast iron was originally inserted

Torchieres they weren’t, as there was no way they could provide light. Rather, they were nickel-plated bronze andirons. A detail photo of the back shows where the cast iron portion was originally inserted. It had been cut off somewhere in its history.

Superb leaded glass turtleback tiles inset into the top of each andiron

The proof that they were Tiffany Studios was in the top — leaded turtleback tiles. Fabulous! The quality, materials and workmanship all screamed Tiffany Studios. The andirons were unsigned, but Tiffany didn’t sign everything. Every once in a while, something got out unsigned.

The bidding started at a few hundred dollars and continued in hundreds until about $2,000. Then a phone bidder jumped the bid to $5,000 (a failed attempt to scare off the other bidders). After a few thousand more dollars, the live audience dropped out and left the bidding to two determined phone bidders. Again the bidders jumped a few bids, until the final price of $28,000, for a total of $33,040, including the buyer’s premium. I’ve got a pretty good idea of who the bidders were, but that’s not for publication. In my opinion, if the pair were signed and in better condition, they could have brought double or more at a major auction house in New York City. In the meantime, I’m sure the consignor was thrilled with the result.

Knowledge is power, and this item was another example.

A killer Daum Nancy vase, just acquired

Look around my website. There are many items for sale, sold items with prices and free lessons about glass and lamps. I regularly add Tiffany vases, lamps and desk accessories, as well as French cameo glass by Galle and Daum Nancy and Louis Icart etchings. Here’s the link. chasenantiques.com

Knowledge is power, part VI

This story doesn’t end the way I planned it, but I trust you’ll find it interesting.

Daffodil table lamp, Hindman lot #346

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, of Chicago, held their Marketplace auction on January 19-20, 2011. Included in their offerings was lot 346, described as An American Leaded Glass Daffodil Table Lamp, after Tiffany Studios, raised on a tree trunk standard. Height overall 18 1/2 inches, outer diameter of shade 13 7/8 inches. Estimate $800-1,200 , and that’s where my story begins.

As soon as I discovered lot 346, my curiosity was piqued. Here was a lamp that was described as “after Tiffany Studios”, which is auction-speak for “the lamp is not authentic”. To my eyes, the lamp appeared to be authentic, but late-period. Late in their production, Tiffany Studios stopped using their own glass that had been manufactured in-house. Rather, they purchased glass from outside suppliers, like the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company of Kokomo, Indiana. This outside-purchased glass had a different “look” to it — “flatter”, less subtle and more garish. To the untrained eye, late Tiffany lamps look like reproductions. So here was the perfect opportunity to sneak up on an item and use my knowledge to gain the advantage. (Read my blog of July 24, 2009 for a good example. Here’s the link. July 24, 2009 blog)

I called the auction house and spoke to the expert in charge and asked Hindman to ship the lamp to me for inspection. I volunteered to pay for the shipping in both directions. Unfortunately, they were unable to comply with my request as this wasn’t their property, but the property of the consignor (in this case an estate). They sent many detailed photos, which only confirmed my suspicion that the lamp was authentic. The problem was that photos were insufficient to make a 100% decision about its authenticity — I had to see it in person. Unfortunately, the only way I could do that was to fly to Chicago.

So, on the Saturday before the auction, I flew to Chicago. The expert in charge, Mike Intahar, kindly agreed to meet me at the auction house to view the lamp. In person, there was no question — the lamp was authentic. I turned right around and flew back to New York. In and out in a few hours. Now armed with knowledge, I could bid with confidence. The lamp had a retail price of $25,000 – 30,000, but I wanted to be conservative, so I could resell it quickly for $20,000 or less.

The auction took place on Wednesday, January 19th. The problem was that I didn’t record it in my calendar, so I completely forgot about it. I was in the city with my wife, when I checked my phone. There were two messages from Hindman’s that I had missed their calls. My heart sank! Here I had spent the time and money to go to Chicago to inspect a lamp, only to forget about the auction!!! Argh! I called Hindman’s and much to my relief, I hadn’t missed the lamp. It was an unimportant lot, earlier in the sale, that I had missed. Whew!!! Dodged a bullet on that one. Now I was prepared to bid. They were going to call me back within the hour.

At around 2 PM EST, Hindman called me to bid on the lamp. The bidding started at $400, which was a very good sign. It meant that no one had left a bid. I let other bidders start the bidding before I jumped in. $1000, $1500, $2000, still good. I was prepared to bid $10,000, or more, so there was plenty of room. $8,000, $9,000, $10,000 — oops, not looking too good any more. $16,000, $17,000, ($20,740, including buyer’s premium), and the bidding ended. Oh well! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I exchanged one day’s time and $500 in expenses for the possibility of a big payday. But it wasn’t meant to be. Two other bidders, one on the phone and one in the room, were also knowledgeable.

I have no regrets. If I have the opportunity again, I will do exactly the same thing. Throw enough #*&% against the wall and something will stick.

If you like my blog, please let your friends know by sending them a link. Then check out my new Tiffany, Daum, Gallé, Webb and R. Lalique acquisitions. I’ve recently listed many of them on my website, including Daum swans, rain, a Gallé monumental red vase — more each day, plus a killer red Tiffany Favrile vase and a millifiori vase. Here’s the link. chasenantiques.com

Even Sotheby’s makes mistakes

Rare Tiffany Studios Laburnum table lamp, Sotheby's lot 227

Sotheby’s New York will hold their sale of Important Tiffany today, December 16, 2010. There are only 33 lots in the sale — but most of them are important and high quality. The offerings range from original oil paintings by Louis Comfort Tiffany to glass to lamps, like a Laburnum, lot 227.

Reproduction Tiffany Studios vase, Sotheby's lot 202

You would think their experts would be able to spot a fake Tiffany vase when they saw one, but lot 202, sneaked past them and into their catalog. It’s listed as “A Superb Monumental Floriform Vase”, circa 1900, Favrile glass, engraved L.C. Tiffany-Favrile W2977, 16 5/8″ high. Provenance — Private Collection, Paris. $15,000-20,000. The only problem is that it’s not by Tiffany Studios, but a modern reproduction. Upon receipt of the catalog, I immediately doubted the authenticity of the vase, but waited to make a final judgment until I could see it in person. There was no doubt in person. The cup part of the vase was good quality, but the foot was all wrong. It’s a decoration Tiffany did not do. The signature was an obvious fake, of which, unfortunately, I don’t have a photo. I can only assume that the European consignor was an important client with other valuable objects, so the vase did not get the proper scrutiny it deserved. It’s rare for reproductions to get past their experts.

(P.S. – Thursday afternoon, December 16, 2010, 1:55 PM. I just found out that Sotheby’s withdrew the above lot, #202, before sale time. I don’t know if someone read my blog and informed them or if they found out another way, but luckily it was not put up for sale. It saved the potential buyer a lot of grief.)

Christie’s Tiffany results were excellent on December 15th, so I can only assume that Sotheby’s will be too. I’ll post blogs next week about the recent 20th Century sales in New York at the major auction houses. One item soared past estimates to sell for almost $1 million.

If you like my blog, please let your friends know by sending them a link. Then check out my new Tiffany, Daum, Gallé and R. Lalique acquisitions. I’ve recently listed many of them on my website, including Daum blackbirds, swans, rain, and more to come in the next few days, plus a killer red Tiffany Favrile vase. Here’s the link. chasenantiques.com

What a find at auction! A fantastic Tiffany Favrile vase.

This is something that doesn’t happen every day. An auction gallery thinks so little of a vase that it’s not advertised, combined with a Baccarat vase to raise the value of the lot, sold near the end of the auction, estimated at $1/150, and sold for $28,200. Now for the whole story.

Clarke auction lot #358, photo from their website

Clarke auction lot #358, photo from their website

Clarke Auction of Larchmont, NY, held an auction on September 15, 2009. Buried at the end of the auction was lot #358 of a total of 435 lots. The lot was listed as ‘Baccarat Vase along with an Arts & Crafts Vase. From a Purchase home. Dimensions: 12″ and 9 1/2″‘

The “Arts & Crafts Vase” was not Arts & Crafts, but rather Art Nouveau, and more importantly a fantastic, stupendous, incredible Tiffany Studios Favrile, wheel-carved cameo vase. The vase was not signed, only numbered, so the auctioneer had a slight excuse for not knowing the true origin. However, the QUALITY was so fantastic that the auctioneer was negligent in not advertising the vase. Had he included a photo of the vase in his advertising, the cognoscenti would have recognized it, with a better result for both the consignor and the auction house.

We have a situation where the auctioneer is proud of his achievement, as evidenced in an article entitled “Kitchen Discovery – Tiffany Bowl Brings $28,200 at Clarke’s”, printed in the October 16, 2009 edition of Antiques and The Arts Weekly (known as The Newtown Bee), on page 14. The auctioneer should be embarrassed. He did a disservice to his consignor, selling a $100,000 Tiffany vase for $28,200. Congratulations to the bidders at the auction who recognized the vase and bid accordingly. Big sigh! I wish I had known and been one of them!

Tiffany Studios cameo vase

Tiffany Studios cameo vase

Just look at the quality of this vase. The flowers have been padded with molten glass in the making. After the vase cooled, it was extensively wheel-carved over the entirety of the vase to achieve the fantastic details. Folks, it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s a Tiffany masterpiece.

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.com 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. Click here if you’d like to order it.

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