The Smart Collector: Hard-to-identify vase a gift item, not glass art

2011-12-18T00:00:00Z The Smart Collector: Hard-to-identify vase a gift item, not glass artDanielle Arnet Tribune Media Services Arizona Daily Star
December 18, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Q: Can you help me ID this vase? I've tried to find the pattern and maker for years. I call it Drape, but can't find the real name. Where can I learn about the vase? I've bought tons of reference books but no luck. Is it art glass?

A: The reader thinks the vase is mold-blown (correct) and that it was a better product when made (correct) because it has a silver overlay band decorating the top.

Seen in images, the vase is amber glass with a puffy surface and looped pattern. In glass patterns, a repeated loop is often called drape. Size is described only as "large."

An applied silver band marked sterling at top edge is stamped with a stylized floral pattern. Based on that design, the reader dates the piece around 1900. I'd stretch that date.

My immediate thought was that the vase is American, from one of the many glass factories that flourished along the Ohio River. At one time, no less than 60-plus glass factories operated on the West Virginia side alone.

With so many possible makers, research was a challenge. Combing through old catalogs and references yielded no match. At one point, we found an undecorated version online identified by the seller as Cambridge. It sold for $10. But a check with the non-profit collector group www.cambridgeglass.org told us that the online vase was not by the Cambridge Glass Co.

We saw yet another online version for sale in blue, labeled as early Fenton. So much for accuracy on the Internet .

And then we found it. The pattern is Loop Optic, and the 12-inch-high vase was made in four colors by the Fostoria Glass Co. of Fostoria, Ohio. Amber was produced from 1927 to 1929, made in 6-, 8-, 10- and 12-inch sizes.

See it in "Fostoria Useful and Ornamental: The Crystal for America," by Milbra Long and Emily Seate. Now out of print but available from Amazon.com and online booksellers, the book identifies the shape as mold No. 4100. Book value for the tallest version, unadorned, is $42.

The unsigned silver collar is also American-made, from one of many silver companies that operated on the East Coast. After the collar was added, the piece was no doubt shipped to a better retail shop, perhaps a jewelry store, and sold as a gift item.

Is it art glass? No.

Q: I appreciate any opinion on these items that you can give me. The lamp was my grandfather's Christmas gift to my grandmother for their first Christmas in 1920, I think. The vase has been in my father's family for many years.

A: Unfortunately, many of the images sent are such poor quality that a good look is not possible. What I can see clearly, though, is how damaged the lamp and vase are. Patches of surface are missing, and that is death for value.

It's too bad, because the vase seems to be a good piece of European Art Deco pottery. Is there a mark somewhere? Always photograph marks, usually found somewhere on items. They help identify.

If pristine, the table lamp with a reverse painted shade could bring $300-$500 or more. As it is, the shade seems to be the only undamaged part.

A covered dish/tureen is so poorly lighted that assessment is impossible. All items need to be seen in person.

In this economy, smart collectors will not buy anything but the best condition they can find.

AUCTION ACTION

A Santa evening bag designed by Katherine Baumann that sold for $1,553.50 at Heritage Auctions this month was No. 29 of 500 made. Standing 4 inches high and fully jeweled, this Santa is a minaudière, a small decorative clutch purse designed to fit in the palm of the hand.

Baumann's shop is in Beverly Hills. Though not as widely known as Judith Lieber's jeweled minaudières, her bags are avidly collected.

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send e-mail to smartcollector@comcast.net or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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