Tiffany Studios Lamps
Tiffany Studios lamps are known for their beauty, expert craftsmanship and distinctive design. In the antique and decorative arts market, authentic Tiffany lamps command excellent value.
If you’re interested in selling Tiffany lamps, it’s essential to know what the lamps are worth and why, so you can get the best value. Learn more about how much Tiffany lamps are worth and how Fontaine’s Auction Gallery can help you realize a lamp’s maximum sales potential. Below are a few examples of Tiffany Studios lamps sold by Fontaine’s Auction Gallery.
Styles and Motifs for Tiffany Studios Lamps
Tiffany Studios lamps have distinct styles that make them truly iconic. They often feature designs inspired by nature, with popular motifs that include butterflies, daffodils, dragonflies, Greek keys, peacocks, poppies, fish and wisterias.
Most Tiffany Studios lamps fall into one of several distinct lampshade categories:
Favrile glass shades: This term means “handcrafted” and features iridescent glass.
Geometric shades: This group of leaded glass shades features patterns with simple shapes such as squares, rectangles and triangles.
Floral shades: This group includes leaded glass shades with floral, leaf and vine motifs that can either encompass the whole shade or be in a border.
Figural Motif Shades: These leaded glass shades include dragonfly, butterfly, peacock and aquatic motifs.
Jeweled Feather Shades: This group is usually accompanied with a geometric pattern below the jeweled feather glass.
Turtleback Shades: These shades can be all turtleback glass or have a turtleback band that is bordered with a geometric pattern.
Linenfold Shade: These shades are paneled and have linenfold shaped glass.
Overlay Shades: These shades have a glass liner with bronze overlay.
History of Louis Comfort Tiffany
Loius Comfort Tiffany, son of the founder of the renowned high-end jewelry house Tiffany & Co., was born in New York in 1848. Driven by his love for the arts, Tiffany began his career as a painter before turning to decorative arts and interior design.
In 1885, Tiffany opened his glassmaking studio, Tiffany Studios, which quickly grew to prominence thanks to high-profile projects, such as designing for the White House in Washington, D.C., and the Lyceum Theatre in New York.
From the late 1890s through the 1920s, Tiffany Studios produced mosaic glass shades with geometric patterns and nature-inspired motifs that became popular for their stunning appearance. Influenced by his experience with decorative arts and love for travel, Tiffany took inspiration from Asian and European craftsmanship, especially the stained glass windows of the gothic era and Persian glass design.
Today, authentic Tiffany Studios lamps are highly sought after in the antique market for their distinctive designs and superior craftsmanship.
Production Process for Tiffany Studios Lamps
Shades: Producing Tiffany Studios lamps was an extremely complex and laborious task. The company’s artisans made lampshades from hundreds of pieces of colored glass and hand-selected each tiny section of glass from thousands of glass sheets. Aside from their categorization, every lamp is prepared by using the Copper Foil method. First, a pattern for the lamp is drawn out on a heavy piece of cardboard. Next, a number and glass color is written on the pattern piece. After the pattern is drawn and labeled, the glass is laid over it and traced. Once the pattern is traced onto the glass, the pieces can be cut and ground to their correct shape; next, the pieces need to be cleaned so the copper foil can be applied to the edges. The copper foil solution allows the pieces to adhere together. After the lamp has been placed accordingly and it is fully bonded, the edges need to be soldered together for a firm hold. Finally, after the lamp has been soldered, it is cleaned to bring out its beauty
Bases: When the lamps were made, the cost of bronze was high, so Tiffany Studios made their bases hollow and put a heavy ring of lead in the base to support the heavy shades. High-end bases have additional decorations consisting of turtleback, Favrile and blown glass. Tiffany Studios normally put a turn-paddle knob socket on their lamps, rarely using a pull chain. The bases were usually made of bronze, and there should be a fading patina or small color change if they’re old.
How to Spot Authentic Tiffany Lamps
Since Tiffany lamps can command large sums of money, there are many fake ones on the market. Look for a few telltale characteristics to ensure your Tiffany lamp is authentic:
Most lamp shades produced by Tiffany Studios were signed “TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK” and some included a number to identify the style of the lamp. The signatures were stamped upon a narrow bronze tag or plaque and then soldered to the shade, usually found on the inside of the lower rim. Direct stamps were made only on the base, most often found on the bottom. The stamps consisted of the signature, base number, and occasionally the “TGDCO” (Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company) monogram. On Favrile shades, the identifying letters and numbers were etched upon the glass surface.
Not all Tiffany Studios lamps were signed; therefore, the signature cannot always be relied on. Key features to look for when determining authenticity of the shade are the quality of glass, quality of craftsmanship that’s most evident by the leading over copper foil, reinforcement wires that are attached to the inside of the shade, fading patina or small color change on the bronze parts, and a rattle when knocking lightly on the shade. The wax used to hold the glass together will dry over time and should rattle when lightly knocked, a glass shade that is firmer and doesn’t rattle could be fake. Favrile shades are identified by the etched initials and quality of the glass.
Red Poppy Table Lamp
Peacock Table Lamp
Value of Tiffany Studios Lamps
The value of Tiffany lamps varies significantly. Tiffany Studios “Dragonfly” lamps have an exceptionally high value because of their detail and complex craftsmanship, but other factors such as condition and provenance can also affect a Tiffany lamp’s worth.
The best way to determine an accurate value for your Tiffany lamp is to have it evaluated by a professional. Auction houses such as Fontaine’s Auction Gallery employ specialists with extensive knowledge of Tiffany Studios lamps who thoroughly inspect your items for authenticity, design, condition and other deciding factors.
Fontaine’s Explains More to CNBC
Published: Monday, 18 Oct 2010 | 1:34 PM ET
By: Joseph Pisani CNBC
When it comes to Antique Tiffany lamps, everyone thinks they’ve got one; it’s become a phrase. Any leaded lamp is called a Tiffany lamp, adds auctioneer John Fontaine, of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery, who has been in the business for 42 years. Fontaine’s gets about 50 calls a week to verify if a lamp is a real Tiffany, most are not the real thing. What they’re hoping they have is a genuine Tiffany lamp that could be worth a small fortune. The originals, made in the 1890s to 1930s by Tiffany Studios under the watchful eye of Louis Comfort Tiffany, can be worth anywhere from $4,000 to over $1 million. The most ever paid for an original was $2.8 million.
Floral lamps command the most money, says Jeni Sandberg, a specialist in 20th-century decorative arts. Intense colors are what people favor. Geometric lamps are generally worth less than the floral lamps. Imitations are common. Several companies mimicked the Tiffany lamp style in the 1920s with cheaper, lesser quality models. In the past 30 to 40 years, forgeries have hit the market that can fool collectors and experts alike. Imitations are common. Several companies mimicked the Tiffany lamp style in the 1920s with cheaper, lesser quality models. In the past 30 to 40 years, forgeries have hit the market that can fool collectors and experts alike. So what to do if you think you have a Tiffany lamp in your possession? Ultimately, you’ll need to bring it to an expert who has years of experience dealing with them. Because Tiffany produced a lot of custom-made lamps, there aren’t many hard rules. It’s more of a combination of factors when it comes to authentication. But if you’re staring at a lamp in your home, an estate sale or antique shop, look for these characteristics to help determine if it is an original.
Tiffany almost always made its lamps with a bronze base. There were no wood, plastic, brass or zinc bases, says Tesdell, which are common with cheaper versions. Very rarely, however, art pottery bases were made.
Tiffany Studios mostly made its high-quality glass in New York, says Sandberg. Tiffany used a couple of techniques that makes their lamps stand out. One is confetti glass, where specks of different colors are used on one of the many pieces of glass. Secondly, the color of the glass changes when the lamp is lit.
If you’re in an antique shop or other sale, ask the seller to tell you who the previous owner was. If it came from an estate or was owned for the past 40 to 50 years by the same person, there’s a better chance it’s a real Tiffany lamp, says Fontaine. People typically come upon authentic ones through their family, says Sandberg; either they inherit it or discover it in a basement or attic. It’s more rare, but some have found originals at antique shops and estate sales.
The base of Tiffany lamps almost always carried a Tiffany Studios stamp with a number. Many of the glass shades were also stamped. It’s also important to remember that an item stamped Tiffany & Co., the high-end jewelry and fine goods shop, is not the same. The lamps made by Louis Comfort Tiffany were stamped Tiffany Studios New York.
Signs of Age
An authentic lamp won’t look brand new. There will be what is called patina fading or small color changes on the bronze parts of the lamp. But even this is not always fool proof. Fontaine says really good reproductions mimic age on the base.
Tiffany Studios usually made its lamps with a turn-paddle knob socket for on and off purposes, says Sandberg. A smaller number were made with a pull chain. Mostly, says Sandberg, companies such as General Electric, Bryant and Perkins made the sockets. A socket that has been changed could effect value. Some Tiffany lamps can also have a turn switch at the base. Lead filling. Because of the high cost of bronze when the lamps were being made, Tiffany Studios made their bases hollow, says Fontaine. In order to support the heavy glass shades, a heavy ring of lead was placed in the base. Lifting the base cap and looking in the base, you should see grayish lead. Knock the shade. Grab the top of the glass shade and knock on the glass lightly. Because of its age, and the drying of the wax used to hold the glass together, the shade should rattle, says Fontaine. A firmer glass shade that doesn’t rattle could be a fake.
Ask for a Guarantee
If you’re buying what you think is an authentic Tiffany lamp, make sure you get a money-back guarantee. If a shop is not willing to offer one, you might be spending a lot of money on something that could be a fake. To view listings of our past Authentic Antique Louis Comfort Tiffany Lamps and lighting and our antique Tiffany lamp price guide, please visit https://www.fontainesauction.com/online-auctions/ and search the auctions for “Tiffany”
Consign Your Tiffany Studios Lamps with Fontaine’s Auction Gallery
When you want to work with a top seller of Tiffany lamps, trust Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. Consignment for Tiffany lamps is easy and straightforward when you work with us. Send us information and photos via email or through our auction estimate form, or make an appointment for an in-person antique Tiffany lamp valuation, free of charge.
We charge one flat rate with no hidden fees for our services, so you won’t have to deal with separate charges for photography, transportation or insurance. We also maximize exposure for your item by making our auctions accessible worldwide and starting our marketing efforts weeks in advance of other major auction houses.
With extensive market knowledge and international experience, Fontaine’s Auction Gallery will help you get the best value for your antique Tiffany lamp. Contact us today to find out more about consigning with us.