Loetz

The Loetz company was established in 1840 by Johann Loetz in the Czech Republic and after his heirs sold it on, it eventually came under the leadership of Max Ritter von Spaun in 1879 who guided it to international fame and recognition. During the 1880s and 1890s, Loetz iridescent glass designs typified the Art Nouveau style.

Often referred as ‘The Austrian Tiffany’, Loetz was actually just producing Tiffany- style glass made and marketed at much lower prices after realising there was a real market for it. Indeed some of their work was barely distinguishable from the real Tiffany available at the time. Tiffany patented their iridescent favrile glass designs in 1894 and Loetz was not far behind obtaining patents for their iridescent glass with a ‘metallic shimmer’ in 1895 and 1896.

Loetz, however, didn’t want to be merely remembered or acknowledged for making excellent copies of others’ work and set about creating its own designs of which their most famous and highly-acclaimed series, Phanomen, was to be born. Phanomen pieces are characterised by their trailed combed threads or bands, often referred to as rippled or featherlike and their metallic iridescence. This clever design, where by hot glass threads were wrapped around the hot molten base and then pulled onto the object’s surface to achieve this wave effect while the glass was still malleable, was patented in 1898.

Other key characteristics of Loetz design include blue colour iridescence as well as what is often described as a gleaming oil-on-water effect and many of their motifs follow stylized Art Nouveau examples such as plants, feathers and nature in general.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Mount Washington Glass

Recently a stone chip on my car windscreen, which over the months I had grown to love, broke free and cracked my whole screen. Chatting to the technician who fitted my new windscreen I found he had a passion for glass collecting. When I explained the irony of this his eyes rolled and I gathered I was not the first. His favourite glass was Mount Washington.

Mount Washington was established by William Libbey in 1837 and after moving to New Bedford in 1870 began to produce American art glass for which it was hugely successful. It made some remarkable ranges and patented many types of glass.

One such glass was Burmese glass, with a satin or plush finish. This finish was created by exposing the glass to acid and it is unique in its creamy yellow and peach colourings. The peach colouring comes from a second firing when the base of the piece stays cooler and areas at the top are heated to such an extent that the peach colour reverts back to yellow giving a distinctive two-tone effect.

The creation and recipe of Burmese glass was patented by Mount Washington in 1885 and early pieces are usually very simple. Over 300 hundred shapes were created in the Burmese range and by 1888 the shapes and decoration had become more elaborate. Decoration usually consisted of enamelled or applied patterns.

In 1886 the company patented a very simple glass called ‘Peachblow’, sometimes referred to as Peachskin, which again had an attractive two-tone effect this time in pinks and greys. Unfortunately it never had the commercial success of the Burmese range and was only produced for two years, ironically making it is very collectable today.

Art glass of all types is very popular in the salerooms today and Mount Washington ranges should be on everyone’s shopping list.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Ditchfield Glass

In all the years I have been writing one of the men I have never ever spoken of is John Ditchfield. Why ever not, I ask myself. Last week in one of our many stores housing goods catalogued and awaiting their chance to star in one of our auctions I happened upon a small but gorgeous collection of glass by this very man.

Over thirty years ago this very talented gentleman established his own company “Glasform” in deepest darkest Lancashire. One could have been forgiven for thinking this was just another man blowing a bit of molten glass into a few shapes to sell to the unsuspecting public purchaser, from a shop in a county somewhere in England, but one would be so wrong.

What sets all contemporary production, art or otherwise, above the rest is quality, style, originality, inventiveness, and collectability and Glasform has this in, what we in the world of the antique call, bucketloads. Whether endorsements by David Dickinson, Eric Knowles and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen are good for a glassblower I dare not comment, but Glasform has had hearty accolades from all three along with many others from the world of the rich and famous.

From the age of sixteen John Ditchfield spent seven years learning the art of glassblowing from Franco Toffolo in his Venetian glass factory in Blackpool. After a short career change John came back to manage the factory. He studied Tiffany glass and toured Europe in pursuit of excellence and invention in his art. All this helped him in his subsequent Glasform productions of beautiful, iridescent art glass from Lancashire and our next auction is a chance to start your collection.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Marbles

Everyone loves a marble. They are lovely little artistic glass balls brimming with nostalgia. Marbles of the Victorian glass variety are very popular with collectors, particularly the German handmade ones produced from the 1860s until the outbreak of the First World War. The handmade marbles can be easily identified by their pontil mark; a slightly rough area where the marble was removed from the pontil rod.

The German swirls were the most common handmade marble but within this category there are five different types; the latticino core as the name suggests with a lattice core, the solid core which was either cylindrical or ridged, the divided core which had multiple strands in the middle, the ribbon core which was usually a single ribbon but could be two and finally the complex core so named because it used more than one technique within a single marble.

What makes the area of marble collecting so interesting is that within these five types of swirls there lie other categories and sub-types. For example, there are mists which are created by overlaying colours near the surface of the marble, mica which denotes marbles with designs incorporating silver flakes, or onionskin where the marble typically has a white opaque layer covered with panels of colour. One very desirable subcategory is Lutz marbles, those with goldstone decoration; flecks of gold within their designs made from ground copper. Marbles using this technique weren’t produced until the early 1900s.

Value often lies in complex, intricate and symmetrical designs as well as bright, multicoloured marbles, with certain colours such as blue and red more popular due to their rarity.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Wine Bottles

During the early years of married life, when our house was overrun with babies, children and teenagers, my wife and I rarely opened a bottle of wine. Now, as children have flown, to make their own nests and tranquility has come to our happy home, we find ourselves with time to enjoy the occasional bottle. We never discuss the bottle though, just the contents. Bottles are, however, a very interesting topic for discussion.

Early wine bottles were made from darkly coloured glass, which had a hint of brown when held up to the light. This glass is known as ‘Black Glass’ and was used in wine bottles between 1650 and 1800. These early bottles are very collectable as they represent the earliest stages of consumerism in Britain. Due to their age there is usually surface deterioration, ranging from severe pitting to simple dullness. However, unlike many collectables, damage is acceptable in these old black glass wine bottles, so rare examples in very poor condition still produce good results in the saleroom.

Although not mass produced until the early 1800s, the production of glass was increasing throughout this early period with many glass houses opening up and different manufacturers gaining recognition for certain styles and shapes of bottle.

The commonest shapes in these early wine bottles are the ‘globe and shaft’, the ‘onion’ and the ‘mallet’, with rarer shapes, such as the octagonal being more collectable. More collectable still than the rare shape is the sealed bottle. These are bottles applied with a seal during manufacture which bears a family crest, a date or initials.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Handkerchief Vases

The Chance brothers, Lucas and William had been working together as ‘Chance Brothers and Company’ at the Smethwick glassworks in the West Midlands since 1832 when William bought into Lucas’ business to save it from bankrupty. The company had a mixed history but are probably best known for their handkerchief vases, which were actually an imitation of an Italian original. Paolo Venini and Fulvio Bianconi designed the first handkerchief vase or ‘Vaso Fazoletto’ in 1949.

Chance handkerchief vases provided buyers with a far more affordable alternative and quickly became popular in their own right. Chance took the ‘handkerchief’ metaphor one step further than their Italian counterparts adopting not just the look and shape but also embracing the material and design to resemble actual handkerchiefs incorporating polka dots, striped and gingham patterns.

Their first vase was produced in 1957 and they were in production until 1981 with new designs regularly available. The aforementioned ‘Gingham’ for example wasn’t released until 1977. The handkerchief vase was made in a huge number of designs including a large variety of textured and coloured glass and more dramatic examples such as the ‘Pop Art’ and ‘Psychedelic’ designs of the 1960s.

The designs were applied to the glass through the process of screen-printing. This was done before the shaping of the vase and allowed the transfer to be heat-fixed during the shaping process. Squares of sheet glass were re-heated to 700°C so they became pliable. The larger vases were then formed by manually pushing the sides with a willow stick while the smaller vases took the shape naturally themselves.

Chance handkerchief vases were manufactured in huge quantities and are very easily found today so the rarer sizes and designs are more coveted by collectors.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Cut Glass

Cut glass decoration has been used since Roman times, but until the 18th century designs were limited to simple, shallow cut patterns. Two major developments brought about a change in this; the invention of lead glass in the 1670s by George Ravenscroft and the development of overlay glass. The improvements of the glass enabled craftsmen to show off their skills.

Most of the finest cut glass of the 18th and 19th centuries was produced in Ireland, Britain and America. Production in Britain was greatly affected by changes in taxation as an Act of Parliament passed in 1745 introduced a tax on glass according to size and weight. This led to changes in glass design as makers, keen to avoid high taxes, concentrated on smaller, lighter wares. Three more acts were passed later in the century increasing the taxes even more and it wasn’t until 1845 when these taxes were repealed that cut glass really started to flourish.

British glassmakers were able to avoid some taxes by setting up factories in Ireland. Glassware made in Ireland during this period is known as ‘Anglo-Irish’ and major factories were established in several cities, most notably Richard Williams and Co. in Dublin and the Belfast Glassworks in Belfast.

When the taxes were eventually repealed British glass production began to flourish on the mainland. Among the major, and now very collectable, manufacturers were B & J Richardson and Thomas Webb and Sons both established in the 1830s near Stourbridge and F & C Osler Glasshouse established in 1807 in Birmingham.

Lalique Perfume Bottles

Many women, my wife included, love perfume and almost as many women love and are attracted to the bottle containing that (to most men) rather expensive liquid. That in a nutshell is why Rene Lalique was so successful.

Rene Lalique (1860-1945) began his career designing jewellery, he began working with glass in the 1890s and opened his first glass shop in Paris on the famous place Vendôme in 1905. His work caught the eye of perfumer Franҫois Coty who has a shop nearby and Coty invited Lalique into a partnership initially designing labels for his perfumes and later the glass bottles. Their partnership revolutionised the perfume industry; it was the first time perfumes were packaged in distinctive bottles evocative of the fragrance contained within and it was a huge success. By the 1920s Lalique has three factories and produced exquisite perfume bottles for over 60 fashionable and desirable perfumers.

A Lalique Glass Scent Bottle and Stopper, modelled in the 'Deux Fleurs' design, in a clear and frosted glass, engraved mark 'Lalique France' and original label - Estimate £50 to £70. This will be going through our Antique & Fine Art auction next Friday (23rd March)
A Lalique Glass Scent Bottle and Stopper, modelled in the ‘Deux Fleurs’ design, in a clear and frosted glass, engraved mark ‘Lalique France’ and original label – Estimate £50 to £70. This will be going through our Antique & Fine Art auction next Friday (23rd March)

The perfume bottles in highest demand now are the more unusual or abstract with inventive designs and forms. Most bottles had modern and stylized designs following the Art Deco style. Early examples feature more flowing lines, floral
designs and figural etching. Some bottles were formed in bold shapes with oversized decorative stoppers, occasionally more than one stopper could be designed for a bottle.

Bottles that are sealed with their original contents remaining or bottles with their original outer packaging still intact are considerably more valuable and thus more popular amongst collectors. Bottles made or designed after 1945 will not feature the initial “R” in their mark as this was never used after Rene Lalique’s death. The “R” is often added to later pieces to make them appear earlier and thus more desirable.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Paperweights

As the winter nights are starting to get just a little bit brighter and Easter, spring and summer are just around the corner my thoughts turn to holidays spent in France and then obviously to the wealth of wonderful glassware that has come from that glorious country.

The French glasshouses of Baccarat, Clichy and St Louis were responsible for some of the finest and most inventive paperweights produced between 1845 and 1860. A limited number of English paperweights were made at about the same time at George Bacchus & Sons in Birmingham and examples of these in good condition can often realise high prices.

The main types of decoration are millefiori meaning “thousand flowers” and lampworking. Millefiori requires glass rods or canes arranged concentrically, formally or randomly before being cut and imbedded within clear glass. Those that include silhouette canes featuring animals and birds are always at a premium, as are dated examples.

Lampworking involves individually sculpted flowers, butterflies, fruit and reptiles, including snakes, made in coloured glass using a direct heat source before being captured in glass. Some of the most desirable weights are then overlaid with white and or coloured glass and facet cut to reveal the design inside.

The condition of a paperweight is important. Bruises and chips will make a paperweight undesirable to collect and therefore they will limit it’s value. Size is also important, in particular magnums at 10cm and miniatures, which are less than 5cms, are the most popular with collectors.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Murano Glass

I love Italy. I love the people, the pizzas, the sunshine and the glassware. Italian glass overflows with exciting history and wonderful colours and one of it’s most colourful characters is Paulo Venini.

Murano is one of a compact group of Venetian islands and has been manufacturing glass since the eleventh century. Glassmakers were forced out of Venice for two main reasons. Firstly because of the ever present risk of fire and secondly to keep some of their most innovative techniques secret.

The eleventh century is a long time ago and from then until now Murano has seen some of the best glassmakers in the world. One of the very best came along in the early twentieth century, his name was Paulo Venini and he was born in 1895.

In adult life Venini was a disillusioned lawyer and he gave it all up to become a glassmaker. In 1921 he purchased a partnership in the Murano glasshouse of Glacomo Cappelin and by 1925 he had overall control and renamed it Venini and Company.

He abandoned the Revivalist styles of other Venetian glasshouses, but never departed from the essential traditions of Venetian glass. Very quickly he established himself as the leading manufacturer of high quality decorative and table glass in Italy.

Not only was Venini brilliant, he employed some brilliant designers. Such people as Taplo, Wirkkala and Ponti.

When he died, the factory was taken over by his widow and his son in law, Ludovico de Santillana and the tradition for excellence lived on.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website