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

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

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

Dessert Glass

Within the field of glass collecting, drinking glasses have always commanded the greatest interest from enthusiasts. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but as a lover, or should I say worshipper, of the pudding or sweet, or dessert or anything with custard I think it is my duty to introduce a whole other area of glass collecting. The dessert glass.

In preceding centuries dessert was considered an important occasion in its own right. These were times when the wealthiest members of society would celebrate with parties incorporating large and varied amounts of food.

Desserts would often be served away from the table in buffet form. This could be directly after dinner or later in the evening. The atmosphere would be something that we might expect at a cheese and wine party today.
The kind of treats on offer included candied fruit, marshmallows, crystallised citrus peels and almonds. They would be served in glasses on tall stems known as suckets, that resemble drinking glasses. They would also be served on footed and stemmed plates and saucers known as tazzas and comports.

Jelly and ice creams were served in glasses that were shorter and thicker with practically no stem. The custard cup is a variant on the jelly glass, but this time with handles. Custard cups were used for dishes like egg custard and baked egg trifles.

Sometimes all of these dishes would be placed on large, stemmed salvers placed to form a pyramid. Is it possible, I ask myself, to conjure up a picture of anything more delicious? What are we left with today? A wonderful wealth of marvellous glass to collect.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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

Scent Bottles

As a child I was surrounded by sisters and as a man I was surrounded by mostly daughters. There is little wonder therefore that I have grown accustomed to the smell of perfume. It’s not that I don’t love the smell of perfume, I do, but I also love the wonderful aroma of a freshly lit pipe, or roast beef cooking on a Sunday morning or the mixture of old leather and petrol in a vintage car.

I appreciate that everything has its time and place and if my wife was dressed for a glamorous evening and smelt of roast beef it somehow wouldn’t be the same. More than any of these smells however the thing I really love is the bottle that holds them.

Liquid perfume dates from around the mid 17th century, but few glass perfume bottles actually exist from that time. Glass was considered unworthy to hold the very expensive perfumes, so
precious metals and hardstones were used instead. Perfume bottles produced from glass were not seen in large quantities until the end of the 18th century and they reached their peak in popularity and production in the Victorian period.

A Laligue Scent Bottle which made £3000 at Sheffield Auction Gallery in 2011
A Laligue Scent Bottle which made £3000 at Sheffield Auction Gallery in 2011

A particular favourite of this period was the double ended scent bottle. These held perfume in one end and smelling salts or vinaigrette in the other. They were often made with coloured, faceted glass with silver, silver gilt or brass caps.

Although the glass bottles were mass produced, they were made in a variety of styles and prices. The more expensive ones were set with coral or turquoise and had silver cagework overlays.
Cameo glass scent bottles were also popular. These bottles consist of two layers of glass, the outer layer is cut away to reveal the coloured glass underneath. They were produced in various
forms including animal heads, swans, eagles, owls and even crocodiles.Thomas Webb and Sons were important producers of these cameo bottles.

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

Sweetmeat Glasses

Within the field of glass collecting, drinking glasses have always commanded the greatest interest from enthusiasts, but there is a whole sphere of glass production which is equally as exciting and readily available to the collector.

The Georgians loved their desserts and the taking of dessert was an important occasion in it’s own right. The late 18th century was a time when the wealthiest members of society entertained with
parties incorporating a large and varied amount of food, as well as generous amounts of wine and desserts.

Desserts may be taken with the meal or served away from the table in a kind of buffet form which could be directly after the dinner or later in the evening. The kind of treats on offer included
candied fruit, marshmallows, crystallised citrus peels and almonds.

These desserts would be served in glasses on tall stems known as suckets that resemble drinking glasses. They would also be served on footed and stemmed plates and saucers known as tazzas
and comports. Shorter thicker glasses with practically no stem were also used for holding jelly and ice creams. Custard cups, another variant on the jelly glass, were used for syllabub ( a creamy
alcoholic sweetmeat ), egg custard and egg trifles. Sometimes all of these vessels would be presented on large stemmed salvers placed in the form of a pyramid.

These wonderful Georgian occasions and marvellous Georgian sweetmeats have provided the modern collector with an enormous wealth of collecting opportunity.

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