I am always interested in reading about what antiques fetch on the market. I am subscribed to several Sotheby’s newsletter announcements and a couple of weeks ago I received the results of the Tiffany auction.
The top lot of the sale was a magnificent “Wisteria” table lamp, whose price was driven to $1,565,000 by two determined bidders, setting an auction record for any Tiffany Studios “Wisteria” table lamp** (est. $600/800,000). The price of almost anything Tiffany has skyrocketed in recent years. Regular collectors need not apply, as the value of these pieces is now in the hands of only the wealthy.
The name “Tiffany” has become a generic term to describe a certain style of glass, or ornament. Tiffany studios was active mostly during the Art Nouveau period (late 1890’s to early 20th century) and the fluid, organic shapes, that are the hallmark of that style, were beautifully executed in stained glass and metal. We usually think of table lamps, window panels, and vases, when the name Louis Comfort Tiffany comes up so it was with interest that I saw a few chandeliers in the auction.
The picture above is of a “Moorish 8-light chandelier). At auction, the estimate was for it to fetch between $40,000 – $60,000. It sold for $75,000, still a “bargain” when you compare it to the Wisteria lamp mentioned above. I love the rustic look of the chains next to the very elegant iridescent lamp shades. I can just imagine the kind of room this fixture would have been in.
Here’s another example:
Tiffany items have always been popular – and expensive. Because of the popularity of the products, they were often copied by other companies who knew a good thing when they saw it. To add to this confusion, not all the items that came out of the Tiffany Studios were marked but over the years even these unmarked, yet original pieces, were “marked” or signed in order to make them more valuable.
Just in case someone offers you the deal of a lifetime, or you think you’ve stumbled upon an original, consider the following: As in all high-priced items, the most important thing for a dealer to know is its provenance. This refers to the record of ownership. There are many fakes and reproductions on the market and the provenance is what gives the seller, as well as the buyer, a measure of confidence that the object they are dealing with is indeed authentic.