Treasures in Your Attic: Vases have fraudulent Tiffany signatures

By HELAINE FENDELMAN and JOE ROSSON
Tribune News Service
June 02. 2018 5:19PM


This jack-in-the-pulpit vase is attractive, but the signature on the pontil - "L. C. T." for Lewis Comfort Tiffany - is in the wrong place.

Dear Helaine and Joe: I need information on the two glass pieces pictured in the attached photos. The jack-in the-pulpit vase is 17¼-inches tall and the other vase is 17-inches tall. I believe they were both purchased at the annual antiques fair in Hillsville, Va. My sister and I would greatly appreciate any information on these pieces, including their value.

- Thank you, J. B.

Dear J. B.: There are some important details left out of this letter that are critical to determining the value of the two pieces. One is the jack-in-the-pulpit vase appears to be signed "L. C. T." in the center of the pontil, and the second is the lighter colored piece is signed "Tiffany Favrile" around the edge of the base.

"Tiffany" is a magic word in the world of collecting. When this name is attached to pieces of glass, pottery, jewelry, silver and other metalwares, values can skyrocket. Lewis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) was an artist, designer and entrepreneur who established a creative enterprise, which produced a variety of luxury goods largely in the Art Nouveau and Aesthetics Movement styles.

Tiffany was financially backed by his father Charles Lewis Tiffany, and over the years Lewis Comfort Tiffany established a number of businesses, including Louis C. Tiffany & Company (1878-1885), Tiffany Glass Company (1885-1892) and Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company (1892-1900). Tiffany Studios came along in 1902 along with Tiffany Furnaces, which became Louis C. Tiffany Furnaces, Inc in 1920.

Unfortunately, none of these companies created the two vases in today's question. They are both fraudulently signed and were probably made sometime in the last quarter of the 20th century, certainly no earlier than the late third quarter of that century, long after all Louis Comfort Tiffany's production facilities had closed.

The signatures are sloppy, amateurish and not at all like the signatures found on real Tiffany glass. The lighter colored base is just wrong for Tiffany glass, and the rather clumsy LCT in the pontil of the jack-in-the-pulpit is really in the wrong place.

We really do not care much for the second vase signed "Tiffany Favrile" ("Favrile" means "handmade") and believe it is an example of 1970s/'80s glass that was either never signed or had the original signature ground off and replaced. This is really easy to do, and buyers should never take a signature on glass or any other decorative object at face value. Signatures are easy to fake and easy to apply with a diamond point stylus to any piece of glass.

The jack-in-the-pulpit is a bit different. It is very nicely made, and the trailing vine with red heart-shaped leaves is attractive. We think it was possibly made by James Lundberg or Orient and Flume.

Oh, and to double-check us and to be on the safe side, contact the curator at the Morse Museum in Winter Park, Fla. Their Tiffany glass collection is superb.

Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques. If you have an item you'd like to know more about, contact them at Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or treasures@knology.net. If you'd like your question to be considered for their column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus, with your inquiry.


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