Collecting Glass with an Easter Theme
by Reyne Haines
Many things come to mind when you think of March. Spring showers, planting seeds for your summer garden, flea market openings and Easter.
To many people Easter means church, family dinners and an Easter egg hunt for the children. However, to collectors it means that, and a whole lot more.
Easter enthusiasts have a wide range of collectibles to choose from. Vintage postcards, Steiff ducks and rabbits, wicker baskets, Easter advertising memorabilia, chocolate candy molds, and even Easter theme glassware.
What do I mean by Easter glassware? Not crystal vases to house pastel colored flowers. It goes far beyond that. Think covered candy dishes, hens on a nest, eggcups, egg shaped whimsies and even pastel colored glass. Glass created by Tiffany Studios for example.
When you think of Tiffany glass, what probably come to mind are his lovely gold and blue Favrile vases and bowls or leaded lamps with geometric and floral designs. What many people don’t know is that towards the Art Deco movement, we saw Tiffany producing a line of glass that was pastel in color.
For more than 35 years, Louis Comfort Tiffany produced glassware at his Corona New York location. Glass produced between 1892 and 1900 we find to be mostly experimental shapes and colors. The largest amount of glass was produced from 1900 to 1918 and during what is know by most collectors as the Nash period, 1918 to 1928 we saw pastel glass come into production.
In 1919 Louis Comfort Tiffany retired from Tiffany Studios.
He divided the company into two divisions.
Tiffany Furnaces, managed by A. Douglas Nash producing Favrile glass, and
Tiffany Ecclesiastical Department to produce windows, mosaics and lamps. The word “Favrile” comes from the Latin word
fabrilis, which translates to hand-made.
During the 1920’s styles were changing and Tiffany Studios changed with them. The most recognizable difference was the color. Pastel colors of yellow, pink, blue, green and purple replaced the rich golds and blues Tiffany first produced during the Art Nouveau era. They were warmly embraced at first but sales were not strong enough over the next handful of years. The glass during this time was made at Tiffany Furnaces but was still signed with the L.C. Tiffany Favrile signature, or variations thereof. After Tiffany Furnaces closed in 1928, Nash continued making pastel glass, however it was then signed ADNA or NASH. Because gaffer Jimmy Stewart worked for both Tiffany Furnaces and Nash, there are virtually no differences in both firms pastel glass beyond the signature. In 1931 A. Douglas Nash’s operation closed for good.
In the last few years we started noticing what appeared to be interest in the pastel colors. For many years collectors rarely bid at auction when items became available, and most often looked past any piece that might be offered at a show. It seemed as though the typical gold, blue or decorated pieces were what collectors desired.
This year we are seeing strong interest at auction, shows and online for items in pastel colors, Wisteria (purple) bringing skyrocketing prices. In fact, most goblets you find available are quickly snapped up by collectors at prices far exceeding those goblets for sale in gold.
For example, a nice wine goblet in wisteria sells generally for $900-$1200. The same thing in gold might sell for $350-450. Pastel pink $500-600. Tiffany dinner plates; in gold you might expect to pay $200-300, in pastel green $300-400, pastel blue $400-500.
Several years back, pastel plates might not have obtained a token bid.
With prices soaring, can you still find a bargain? Yes, you can! Most people think of Tiffany glass as either iridescent gold or blue. That can work to your advantage. On many occasions I have seen LCT or L.C. Tiffany Favrile signatures on pastel pieces on the underside rim of the piece, as opposed to where it is normally found, closer to the pontil. Newbie glass dealers or antique enthusiasts do not quickly recognize pastel pieces. Often you find these pieces in antique shops marked “Contemporary Studio Glass” or “Italian/Venetian glass” and priced according to what they think it to be. Once you’ve spent a little time studying Tiffany glass and some of the different styles and designs made, you’ll see Tiffany in a whole new light….and color!
Not All Pastel Glass is Tiffany - Often times new collectors are confused by what is and what is not pastel Tiffany glass. Glass signed NASH or ADNA is glass produced by Jimmy Stewart, who produced Tiffany’s pastel line. However, it does not qualify as Tiffany glass, nor does it command the same price. It is definitely desirable, and another up and coming glass to collect (while prices are still reasonable) but it is NOT Tiffany.
Powell & Sons is an English firm, which produced pastel yellow glassware that is commonly confused with Tiffany. They even designed floriforms, somewhat similar to Tiffany’s creations. Powell & Sons produced glass from 1834-1980 in Whitefrairs England. Their glassware was not signed. However, a few less than honest people have etched L.C.T. and sometimes full Tiffany signatures on the bases on pieces which is enough to fool new collectors.
Want to know more? If you are interested in Tiffany and would like to know more, there are great arrays of reference books just waiting to be read. Tiffany: Lamps, Bronze and Glass by Robert Koch is probably the best known and has been recently reprinted by the publisher. This book can be purchased at your local bookstore or online at Amazon.com. Another great new book recently published is “Behind the Scenes of Tiffany Glassmaking: The Nash Notebooks” by Martin Eidelberg and Nancy A. McClelland. This book gives a real inside look to what was being produced at Tiffany Studios. Incredible never before seen photos, original catalog information and much more. This book can be purchased at www.amazon.com.
Other Easter Glass
While Tiffany is hot on today’s market, there are other Easter related glassware you can collect.
While many companies have made the ever so popular “Hen on a Nest” covered candy dish, its safe to say Westmoreland made them grow in popularity. Westmoreland began producing the hen on a nest around the early 1900’s. They continued producing nests until 1985. Westmoreland hens were made in a variety of colors such as milk glass, slag and even colored glass. They made something for everyone. Vintage Westmoreland pieces command a strong price from collectors. Expect to pay anywhere from $75 - $150 for the more common pieces depending on size and color. The harder to find color and design command prices higher than that. That’s one expensive way to serve candy! Keep in mind, the molds for these cuties have been sold to other firms, and are currently being reproduced. Some of the signatures to watch for are: V for Summit Art Glass Co, a B for Boyd Glass and an R in an outline for Rosso Glass Company.
Need a basket to hold your eggs? Handled glass baskets have been made since the early 1900s and are still being produced today. The most recognized basket designer is Fenton Art Glass Company. They began producing glass in 1905 and are still going strong in Williamsburg VA. Vintage Fenton baskets can be bought from around $50-$150 depending on color. Newer Fenton baskets are a bit more affordable. They range from $35-$50, depending on size, artist signature and where you purchase it. For antique collectors, you might do a search on the Internet for your baskets. They seem to turn up more frequently online and for less money. Newer baskets can be found at your local gift shops and on QVC. The age of Fenton can be determined by a few signature marks. Early pieces had a label only, most of which have not survived. A label reading Authentic Fenton Handmade was used in the 1950’s-1960’s. The molded “Fenton” name was used on carnival glass after 1975, an 8 denotes the 1980’s and a 9 for 1990s.
Linda’s Unique Antiques -- http://www.arsh.com/unique
Wishful Things -- http://www.wishfulthings.com
Just Glass -- http://www.justglass.com
Lillian Nassau Ltd.
220 East 57th Street – New York NY 10022