Some treasures I’ve owned, part VI, art glass shades

This is installment VI of my “Some treasures I’ve owned” series. The topic was suggested to me by several collectors, but first by Matt Long.

I have a long history dealing in art glass shades, which includes one interesting story. I was exhibiting at a show on Long Island about 25 years ago, when I met a lovely older lady who saw I was interested in art glass shades. She told me she had some for sale and invited me to her home. When I walked in, she had about 125 mostly Quezal and Steuben shades displayed on several tables. At the time, she wanted $50 each for the gold ones and $75 each for the decorated ones — good prices even then.

Quezal blue pulled feather shade

Quezal blue pulled feather shade

I bought them all and then she invited me back for more. By the time she was finished with the shades, I had purchased about 500. I asked her how she had accumulated so many. She told me that when she was much younger, she would go to wealthy neighborhoods on trash day and find them for the taking. That was the beginning of a wonderful relationship that lasted about 10 years. I probably bought 10,000 objects from her, from $1 up, at great prices that she set. She was very knowledgeable but always priced her items so I could make money. She’s gone now, but she left me and my wife with fond memories of her.

One great shade I owned was a blue decorated Quezal, an extreme rarity and a real beauty (pictured above). This may be my favorite shade of all time.

Quezal dark green wave decorated and floral decorated shades

Quezal dark green wave decorated and floral decorated shades

Dark green shades are also rare and floral shades even rarer. Pictured at right are examples of both of them.

The ones that got away are also interesting. About 20 years ago, a dealer told me about a set of Quezal red shades with zipper decoration that was in a house. This is one shade I have never owned and never seen. I tried hard to get them, but the dealer was so low key, he let them get away. I heard they had made their way into some great collections.

I’m taking a lot of time to add new items to my website. In the last few days I’ve added to the Gallé glass and Icart etchings listings. Please take a look, as every day I’m adding more. Click on this link

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.

Knowledge is power, part II

Steuben Tyrian vase (not the one from the story)

Steuben Tyrian vase (not the one from this story)

In the early 1990s, during a difficult recession, I was exhibiting at a show at the New York Coliseum.  For the first couple of days, the dealers were setting up the show, walking around and buying from each other — normal procedure for any show.  I came to the booth of a dealer who had sold me many things in the past.  He had broad knowledge of a diverse range of antiques.  He was the kind of dealer who could go into someone’s house and feel just as comfortable buying an oriental rug, or a painting or a Tiffany lamp.  He had a vase on the table that I recognized right away without picking it up.  I asked him the price and he replied that it was signed something on the bottom that he couldn’t read and because of it, the price was $1500.  I bought it, brought it back to my booth and put it under the table.

The vase was a Steuben Tyrian vase, which has a characteristic look.  Steuben signed these vases “Tyrian”, but not Steuben.  The wear on the bottom of the vase was considerable, so the scratches through the word Tyrian made it very difficult to read, unless you already knew what it said.

The next day, I called Roger Early in Cincinnati and asked him if he would like it for his next auction.  He told me his deadline was coming up very soon, but that I could make it on time if I would send the vase to him overnight, which I did.  He called me the next day to tell me that if I didn’t want to take the risk at auction that he would write me a check immediately for $6,000.  (Now why would I want to do that?)   I knew the vase had the potential to bring substantially more, so I told him to just put it in the auction and let it sell.  The result?  $13,000.

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

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