St. Charles Gallery, Inc. held an auction this past Sunday, November 21, 2010. They sold two cameo glass vases that were reproductions of original Gallé vases. What was so good about that was how accurately they described them.
Lot 1047 was described as follows: Tall Cameo-Cut Glass Vase, the blue over smoky topaz over yellow glass vase of tall baluster form in “Mountain Lake” decor in the manner of Emile Galle (1846-1904), the side with a pseudo-Galle signature in cameo script, h. 14-1/2″, dia. 4″.
The second reproduction was also accurately described: lot 1048 Emile Galle-Style (1846-1904) Cameo-Cut Glass Vase, early 20th century, of modified flask form in “Mountain Lake” decor, signed at one side “Galle”, in wavy script within a freeform reserve, h. 8-3/4″, w. 5-1/4″, d. 3-1/2″.
What is one supposed to do if the auction gallery either doesn’t know that the vases are fake or is unscrupulous and does know, and is trying to trick you? That’s the tough part. It’s important to have seen and handled enough authentic vases to be able to tell the difference. Gallé used specific colors, designs and shapes. If there are substantial differences, the odds are that it’s a reproduction. But until you’ve seen and handled many, many authentic vases, you won’t know for sure.
Let’s talk specifically about the two vases at St. Charles Gallery. The first one, lot 1047, is easier to identify as a reproduction. The first giveaway is the quality of the decoration. The fisherman is cartoonish — well below the quality of an authentic vase. The second giveaway is the shape, but that’s more difficult. The foot is the wrong shape — too large and bulbous. One would only know that with lots of experience. Next is the finish. The decoration on earlier authentic vases was wheel-polished, which gave it a semi-gloss sheen, while the background remained matte. The fisherman vase has the same matte finish throughout. Again that’s difficult for a novice to tell because late authentic Gallé vases were not wheel-polished, so they were similar to the reproductions.
Lot 1048 is a more faithful reproduction. The shape is a known Gallé shape. The decoration is close to authentic Gallé. The colors are close to authentic colors. This one doesn’t scream reproduction, but rather whispers it. Thank goodness this auction house didn’t try to fool anyone, because they probably would have gotten away with it.
Kaminski Auctions of Beverly, Massachusetts, will be holding an auction this coming Saturday and Sunday, November 27-28, 2010. Lot 6040 is described as follows: Galle cameo vase, floral with insects, 9″ x 7 1/2″. Good condition. EST 600 ~ 900. To the best of my knowledge, Kaminski Auctions is a reputable auction house, so I can only assume they just don’t know. This one is an obvious fake, with the biggest giveaways being the dark band around the rim and the straight-cut rim.
I post lessons about reproductions on my website and I continue to write about them on my blog. I’m doing my best to educate the public, but it only helps a little. Of the many appraisals I do for individuals and insurance companies, about half of them turn out to be fake. My fee for appraisals is $100 for the first object and $50 for each additional. Most appraisals are done from emailed digital images.
If you like my blog, please let your friends know by sending them a link. Then check out my new Daum, Gallé and R. Lalique acquisitions. I’ve listed them all on my website. I’ve listed another twenty items in the last few days, including Tiffany, Quezal, Steuben, Van Briggle, Fulper, George Ohr, Daum and Gallé. Here’s the link. chasenantiques.com Then check out the huge sale I’m having on Icart etchings. For the complete listing, click this link. Available Icart etchings.