WHAT: Two sales of important 20th century design at Sotheby’s New York last month were heavy with glass by Tiffany Studios. Both sales were 100 percent sold, creating the rare phenomenon of sequential “white glove” sales. “Dreaming in Glass” offered 48 lots that sold for $9 million. All of the top 10 sellers were lighting by Tiffany Studios.
The top lot was a circa 1903 “Trumpet Creeper” table lamp, named for the familiar climbing vine, which sold to a private collector for a hair under $2.3 million.
MORE: In “Masterworks of Tiffany and Prewar Design,” another white-glove sale the previous day, 90 lots from a private collection fetched almost $5 million. Nine of the top 10 sellers were glass from Tiffany Studios; all were table lamps, but for a Tiffany Studios lamp screen. All of the top 10 sold to private American collectors.
SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: L.C. Tiffany was fond of climbing vines and used varied examples in his lamps. First issued in 1903, this lamp was introduced at about the same time as Tiffany Studio’s “Grape” and “Wisteria” shades. This shade features thicker leading.
“Trumpet Creeper” lamps came with the studio’s large “tree” bronze base. All incorporate the vine theme through both base and shade.
HOT TIP: Note the myriad shadings of colored glass used here. Tiffany Studios employed women to select glass for use in this model. After a strike by workmen in 1892, Tiffany decided that only women could discern subtleties between shades of glass produced and stored by the studio. Chalk one up for the ladies!
BOTTOM LINE: Standing 27¾ inches high with an 18½-inch diameter shade, this example is, according to the house, considered the “ne plus ultra” of its type. Fully stamped and marked, the heavily documented lamp came with impeccable provenance, down to previous sales by prestigious New York City dealers. No wonder it broke an auction record for the model!