Glad you stopped by! Here we report R Lalique news, auction results, upcoming event information, and our observations and opinions about the entire World of R. Lalique. If there is any topic you’d like to see covered, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. All R Lalique enthusiasts, all admirers of Rene Lalique, and all interested R Lalique collectors and observers are welcome to participate. Comments, additions, corrections, new information, and bug reports, are greatly appreciated!! Hope to see you hanging around the Blog!
Almost a decade before the birth of Rene Lalique, in a small but burgeoning town a few miles north of Boston, a not quite 40 year old Amory Houghton got in his mind to get in the glass making business. He started with a share in one small local glass company and later acquired other glassmakers. 13 years later, in 1864 Houghton took over the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company in Brooklyn New York. Even with the help of his two sons, the Brooklyn business was financially unstable. And of course the fire was a big problem too. But along came an inspired banker from the small town of Corning New York who convinced the family (naturally money was involved) to move their business to Corning.
The newly renamed Corning Flint Glass Works was up and operating in 1868, but by 1870 had gone broke. Fortuitously Houghton’s two sons were able to get the business back (sans Houghton Sr.), and succeeded in getting the company on a firmer financial footing, thanks to a small number of products such as colored signal lights for railroads!*
Through the years and plenty of ups and downs, the company has had an amazing run through American history. It worked with Edison on his glass for the light bulb, and for Steve Jobs it developed the glass screens for the iPhone. It created the glass for Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) and invented Pyrex. It made the mirror for the Mount Palomar observatory and supplied the glass for the primary mirror in the Hubble Space Telescope. And when responding to a 1960’s era request from the British Post Office for a better and more reliable transmission material, it created the optical fiber that has revolutionized communications. And this is just a small sample of the highlights!
Corning has high tech, high talent, and very low turnover. They are so heavy on innovation and invention, you get the feeling that when a company needs a glass problem solved and approaches Corning, that more often than not a Corning guy in the room says, “We’ve got something on the shelf (from 1, 2, 10, or 20 years ago) we can make work for that.”
At Corning’s Sullivan Park Research Center, they obtain something in the neighborhood of 25 patents a month as Corning spends around 9% of all revenue for R&D.
But the company is also strong in community and social works. One such undertaking was conceived to help celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary: the establishment of the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) in 1951.
The museum is an independent and not-for-profit organization whose mission it to tell about and keep alive the history and the art of glass. In addition to being an operating museum visited by something like 400,000 people per year, it also holds seminars, classes, demonstrations, workshops, and lectures. It has everything from glassmaking to glass breaking demonstrations, and museum visitors can literally make their own glass as part of their experience at the Corning. On top of all that, the museum is active in both scientific research and publishing on a wide variety of glass related topics.
All in all, the museum is nearing 50,000 different glass objects in its collection that span roughly 35 centuries of glassmaking.
Also part of the museum is the Rakow research library (named after significant benefactors of the museum), the leading research library on glass anywhere in the world. The library has an extensive collection of original period materials on all aspects of glass and glassmaking. Of note is that the collection includes some great original materials related to Rene Lalique (yes, we’re getting to that guy soon:) some of which previously resided right here at World Headquarters! Of course, these are but a small part of the over 2000 documents relating to Lalique’s glass production housed at the Rakow.
Of the tens of thousand of objects at the Corning, until recently only about 200 were directly related to Rene Lalique. Over half of those were acquired in the early 1980’s, comprising rare models and prototypes (work pieces) which had been kept together by a Rene Lalique et Cie factory supervisor from the period.
But in 2011, Stanford and Elaine Steppa, New Jersey residents with a longtime involvement in the works of the great Lalique, donated about 400 items to the museum. Most of the items were commercial production pieces, which by their numbers sampled the largest part of the gamut, in time and types, of Lalique’s commercial works. And there were also a few amazing rare unique and nearly unique items as well.
So now with around 600 pieces representing everything from the conception to the process to the results, the reference material to back stop it all, and the ability to borrow objects to fill in a random blank or two**; suddenly the story appears in the totality of the materials and objects.
Suddenly, it’s not a good looking glass vase from 1922; it’s the story of the artist and his design development and influences (the swans on the pond or the birds in the trees at the country house). It’s how the glass thing got started (the jewelry, the bottles), how it was industrialized (the models, the patents), how the art was conceived (the drawings) and with what means and what steps (the work pieces) the final object was created. Suddenly, what we call a story, they call an exhibition!
It’s the visual and referential story of Rene Lalique, told one piece at a time through about 200 objects, and amazing period reference material. It’s “Rene Lalique: Enchanted by Glass” at the Corning.
The exhibition is already up and open (as of Saturday May 17th) and will continue through January 4th, 2015.
Our takeway*** from an in-depth interview with the exhibition curator Kelley Jo Elliot**** can be boiled to down to one overriding message. The purpose of the exhibition is to tell the story. From the Cire Perdue Vase, to tell how he did it and how it came to be. From the 1893 exhibition medal, to tell what his goals were, what was important to him, and how he was trying to achieve his aims. From the round green glass invitation medallion, to show his technique and his touch. And from the iconic commercial R. Lalique items such as the Serpent Vase, the Tourbillons Vase, or the Suzanne Statue, to be able to explain in the context of Lalique, his world and his history, how these wonderful art glass pieces were developed.
To help put it all in perspective the exhibition is organized in a couple of ways, including by timeline. So the visitor can see the development of Lalique from unique jewelry all the way to the later big architectural pieces; which would include by the way, the amazing 1932 figural panel from the Wanamaker’s store in Philadelphia.
The museum is located in the Finger Lakes***** region of New York State. It’s 4 or 5 hours drive from NYC, and about the same from Washington D.C.. From Niagara Falls it’s about 3 hours. The closest decent size city is Ithaca, home to Cornell University. And there is small regional airport (Elmira/Corning) that is only about a 15 minute drive (paid shuttle available) to the museum that has flights from Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Orlando.
The exhibition is included as part of the general museum visitor charge. The museum is open 7 days a week from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM during the summer, but after Labor Day the closing time moves up to 5:00 PM. Further details can be found at the museum website.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum has also published a thoughtful and informative nearly 400 page reference book about Rene Lalique and the Corning, containing hundreds of photos of both commercial and unique pieces, and pictures of a large number of original models. The book is coincidentally titled “Rene Lalique Enchanted by Glass”. Shown here from the book, in addition to a photo of the dust jacket, is a photo of the extremely rare non-commercial Levrier Car Mascot created as a gift for the Prince of Wales in 1929, next to a photo of an original plaster model for that mascot. Who else but the Corning can tell the story like this? Here is a link to the book page on the museum store, where you’ll be getting a great book and contributing to a great cause.
Our final thoughts:
This is not a show where a bunch of brightly colored vases, some valuable jewelry and a few unique objects are tossed together and the exhibitor is just saying, “Hey, look at this, didn’t this guy make cool stuff”. The Corning is fortunately situated with its collection and resources to bring this stuff to life, and to put it in perspective and context historically, educationally, artistically and industrially. It’s a great opportunity for anyone interested in the Rene Lalique and his works. And heck, it’s just an added kicker that the Finger Lakes region of New York is a great place to visit in the summertime!
* Persistence paid off for the for the Houghton clan. The 1957 Forbes Magazine list of the 76 richest Americans listed both Amory Houghton and Arthur A. Houghton Jr. at between 100 million and 200 million dollars each. In today’s dollars that’s in the billion range (give or take a few hundred million of course).
** Included in the exhibition are 14 unique items (designs, objects, jewelry) on loan from other museums. The lenders are the Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon Portugal; the Chazen in Madison Wisconsin; The Walters in Baltimore Maryland, the VMFA in Richmond Virginia; the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.; and the Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris, France. All are linked from our page listing over 80 museums around the world containing the works of Rene Lalique.
*** The “takeway” is not a quote. It’s more like the gist, the central point, or the main idea as we took it.
**** Kelley is the Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at the Corning. She has a Fine Art Bachelors Degree and a Masters in Decorative Arts History and has worked with a range of museums. She has a strong interest and background in the works of Rene Lalique and in the French artistic glass and jewelry milieu from which he emerged.
***** The Finger Lakes region of New York State is so named because of the pattern of a string of long narrow (and narrowing) lakes which run down from below the New York State Thruway (AKA I-90 or the Thomas E Dewey Thruway) roughly bounded by I-390 in the west and I-81 in the east; kind of in-between but below Rochester and Syracuse. The lakes look like fingers on a map.
In any collecting field, when an auction puts down a new world record auction price or two, it’s a statement about the health of the market and the worldwide interest in the artist. This is about a sale with likely double-digit auction records.
On April 30th, Christie’s cataloged 84 lots of R. Lalique at their King Street salerooms. All were from the same European based consignor and all apparently acquired in the last few years. So “fresh to market” would not apply here, with most of the goods having been to rodeo* quite recently.
To say that vases dominated the offerings and the results would be a bit of an understatement. Of the 84 lots originally cataloged, only 8 were not vases. With Lot 83, the highly questionable gray Bacchantes Vase being withdrawn** prior to the start, 75 of the 83 lots presented at the podium were R. Lalique Vases. The group included 3 cire perdue vases, both Cluny and Senlis Vases, and a total of 54 colored glass vases, assuming of course you regard gray and black as colors in the R.Lalique world! ***
So of the 83 lots offered, the auction house reports that 62 were sold****, for a roughly 75% sales rate on the lot numbers. The premium inclusive total (used for all the following sales numbers) was £1,361,375 or about £21,950 per lot average selling price. Using an approximate real life exchange rate of 1.71 dollars to the Brit Pound (again for all that follows), that makes the sale total about $2,328,000, or $37,550 per sold lot.
Let’s talk about the likely world record prices at auction for particular lots (keeping in mind the vagaries of what exchange rate to use for comparison, not knowing if the buyer had additional costs such as sales tax or vat, etc.):
Lot 3 Formose Vase (Agate) £23,750/$40,600 - for the model
Lot 7 Ronces Vase (Blue) £17,500/$29,900 - for the model
Lot 13 Penthievre Vase (Amber) £35,000/$59,900- for this color of the model, and likely for the model
Lot 15 Serpent Vase (Amber) £35,000/$59,900 - for the model *****
Lot 39 Esterel Vase (Amber) £6,875/$11,750 - for the model
Lot 47 Gros Scarabees Vase (clear/frosted) £17,500/$29,900 - for this color (well, colorless) of the model
Lot 51 Sauterelles Vase (Opalescent) £43,750/$74,800 - for this color (and for maybe 20 minutes) for the model
Lot 60 Ceylon Vase (Yellow Amber) £27,500/$47,000 - for the model
Lot 63 Sauterelles Vase (Green) £57,500/$98,300 - for the model
Lot 73 Borromee Vase (Blue) £32,500/$55,600 - for the model
Lot 77 Martin Pecheurs Vase (Black) £43,750/$74,800 - for the model
Lot 80 Montargis Vase (Black) £40,000/$68,400 - for the model
And a real close one:
Lot 54 Terpsichore (Opalescent) £37,500/$64,100 - for the model a very close 2nd place but considering the slightly higher selling vase had more than just a passing opalescence, this is a really strong result.
That’s a decent number of likely world record prices in a relatively small sale out of only 62 sold lots.
Lest you are tempted to let thoughts of the superior investing acumen of the seller fog your brain, let’s take a bit of If/If time here using the amber Serpent Vase as an example. The all-in price paid at Heritage was $56,762.50. That would be the buyer’s cost. But the hammer price (not the all-in price shown above that would include the auction house buyers premium, but the price relevant to the seller’s proceeds) at this sale was $48,880. There would also be some expenses off that $48,800 such as a likely a seller commission, shipping back and forth to parts known and unknown, etc. Surely the seller hit some winners and just as surely got nicked a bit here and there as well. All If/If of course:).
But to settle the big picture, it’s rumored that the consignor was sitting in the saleroom during the auction and did not appear to be dissatisfied with the ongoing results. Also likely satisfied was the single bidder that bought roughly a quarter of the lots in the sale (including the yellow Ceylan Vase, the green Sauterelles Vase, the blue Borromee Vase, the black Lezards Et Bluets Vase, and the agate Formose Vase), or all of the top five purchasers that accounted for roughly half the sale lots.
The high seller was Lot 25, the Cluny Vase which made £116,500/$199,200. The runner-up was the Cire Perdue Covered Vase Lot 45 which made £92,500/$158,200. Curiously, one disappointment of the sale was that the runner-up vase was the only one of the three cire perdue vases to sell. Of course estimates were high as they were throughout the sale owing likely to the high prices recently paid by the seller, but that didn’t stop many of the colored glass commercial vases from making strong numbers. Also with only three cire perdues, it might just be too small a sample to draw conclusions from. And there might be other issues concerning specific pieces that caused a lack of bidding.
Our thoughts on the market and the meaning of the higher prices have remained steady for many years now, and this sale does not alter them. Even the large numbers of world record prices do not signal some tulip bulb or Silicon Valley stock style bubble. In any rising market, especially art, there will be individual items that get a bit over-heated in an instance. But the overall market, even for colored vases and mascots (two sometimes hot areas) can best be described over the last 18 years, beginning in 1996, as making a steady and general uphill climb. A few examples to make the point:
10 to 15 years ago, an opalescent green Rampillon Vase sold for about $6600 on Ebay. Over a decade later, it made under $11,000 at this sale******. In the same time frame, some colored Ronces were selling in the $10,000 range. So 15 years later on outlier world record on one vase makes $30,000. But the group of Ronces taken together was certainly not out of control. Did the green grasshopper vase go through the roof? Sure. But that’s only one vase. The four Formoses as a group, notwithstanding the agate example going quite high, were strong but not crazy. All the Perruches Vases were also firm but not wild, and certainly not records. And even some of the likely record prices were close (arguably close) to previous record highs.
You also have to consider the venue and how that impacts pricing. Joy McCall and her staff have built a high quality reputation that gives comfort to all bidders, but especially new and inexperienced ones. The Christie’s sales of R. Lalique have tended toward the high side in recent years as they’ve drawn in some great material, and also attracted the then current crop of higher end bidders building up (and chasing up at times) collections. Those bidders feel that they can bid with confidence at these sales, and this impacts prices of course.
When owners come to RLalique.com for an evaluation of their items, we tell them that in addition to all the other considerations, that speed, cost, method, timing, and location of sale are significant factors in the expected value of art. These are not listed stocks where you call your broker and sell in an instant for the one penny spread. Confidence plays a great role in both the acquisition and disposition of art, and here we believe it has played a large one.
Overall, just the kind of results you could anticipate in a firm market, at the right venue, with solid material offered.
If you are looking for more information about any of the R. Lalique models that sold in this sale (or any that didn’t), check out the R. Lalique Catalog here at RLalique.com.
All in all, another great day for the great Rene Lalique.
* “Been to the rodeo before” or “This ain’t my first rodeo” are American expressions indicating that the same thing has happened or been experienced before, or something that’s happening is familiar.
** Here at RLalique.com, we noticed a couple of years ago during our daily world wide auction searches, a spate of supposed grey glass R. Lalique Bacchantes Vases appearing at auction in Europe. They were highly suspicious for their numbers, and for a couple of other reasons best kept close to the vest. They had concave bottoms and what appeared to some to be passable signatures. But of course, R. Lalique Gray Bacchantes Vases do not drop like overripe mangos from a rainforest tree, so both eyebrows and alarms were raised. We talked to the purchaser of one of the vases, and it turned out in due time that this purchaser’s vase was in fact a modern crystal reproduction, heavily worked with a false signature applied, to be passed off as authentic R. Lalique. We can only assume because of the vase, the color, and the timing of the consignor’s acquisitions, that the withdrawal was well advised and foreseeable.
*** Gray is a color, and for this color-blind writer (in both a physical and metaphysical sense), it is the most prevalent color. Black on the other hand is really the absence of color, but black R. Lalique items are considered by most, from a collecting standpoint to be colored pieces. The Oracle says this is the correct view on all levels (again, both physically and metaphysically speaking), as Rene Lalique could not have produced a true, colorless black glass.
**** We have Lot 10, the red Escargot Vase, as having passed at £18,000 and not selling. The published sales results show that vase selling for £20,000 plus £7500 premium, for an all-in total of £27,500 and this amount along with the sale is included in the reported results above. We assume it sold after it passed (non-buyers remorse?), but fast enough to beat the results to press and be included just as if it sold from the podium.
***** The dark amber glass Serpent Vase in this sale is likely the previous world auction record holder from Heritage Auctions, where it made just a bit less. This standout example of the classic deco design graced the halls of World Headquarters for many years before being released to set the world record price for the model on now two different occasions.
****** Thankfully, the Christie’s London staff had the good sense not to repeat the November 1995 Park Avenue catalog calumny that only five of these green opalescent Rampillon Vases are known to exist. This author once had three of them in hand at the same time (yah yah, big hands) and pulled out that catalog just to have a good laugh.
Rene Lalique created several different Garnitures De Toilette (dresser, dressing table, or bathroom sets). The earliest set was created in 1909, with the most prevalent models following in 1919 and 1920 when Fleurettes and Epines were introduced just in time for the roaring 20’s. In the mid 1920’s Perles would make its appearance, and in 1931 Dahlia, Duncan and Enfants would appear in swift succession. Finally during the war years, Helene’s two bottles and one box debuted in 1942.
But the most visually stunning, the set with the largest bottles, and the only one of all the Garnitures to feature nude figures would come in 1928! Just three bottles and one covered box. Their name derives from the Greek word for “mouse ear”, the name given to a plant genus with over 200 varieties; so named because of the shape of the leafs which surround the small, usually less than a centimeter wide typically five lobed flowers. The flowering plant exists in Europe and in places as far away as New Zealand and Alaska (where one variety is the state flower).
The plant is the stuff of legends in Germany, where one legend has it that when God named all the plants, a small genus cried out, Forget-me-not, O Lord! And God replied by naming the plant just that. A bit closer to our time, in the 1400’s in Germany, it was commonly held that if someone wore the flower from this plant, their lovers would not forget them! In 1926 it was adopted as an emblem by the German Freemasons as a message not to forget the needy (Das Vergissmeinnicht), and was likewise adopted by other charitable groups in Germany and elsewhere. It’s also rumored that the Freemasons used it during the Nazi era in Germany in substitution for their typical square and compass symbol as a secret outward means of identification when the Nazis began confiscating Freemason property.
Thoreau (”the mouse ear forget me not…”) and other writers of the 19th and 20th centuries incorporated it into the classic literature of our upbringing. And in 1928, Rene Lalique adopted it as the design motif for the Garniture he named after that same flowering plant: Myosotis. It’s French for “forget-me-not”!
The three different sized flask style bottles are each trimmed on the sides in Myosotis, as is the base and cover of the matching box. All four pieces have a different figure on top **; the bottles as the stopper decoration, and the box incorporated into the center of the top of the lid for easy handling.
The bottles range in height from 23 to 29 centimeters, and the box is 16 cm tall.*** All four models are hard to find in good condition today. The reasons for this include the relative high cost of the bottles when originally marketed in the late 20’s and throughout much of the 1930’s, so huge numbers were not sold; the fact that they were introduced just before the depression which had an obvious negative effect on sales all the way up to the start of World War II; and the fact that the large size and narrow flask shape of the bottles made it easy to knock them over, and made it likely that just one fall would do great and irreparable damage.
Finally, as with other large nude stoppered pieces such as the vases Douze Figurines Avec Bouchon Figurine (the barrel), and Sirenes Avec Bouchon Figurine (the flask), leaving the stopper in the bottles for long periods of time (decades in many instances) gave rise to glass sickness in the bottles, an unsightly interior cloudiness that is now a common trait of a great percentage of these bottles when they do appear. **** / *****
Single bottles come up at auction a few times a year somewhere in the world. Complete sets of all four items are very seldom seen, and even sets of just the three bottles are very hard to find as well.
A three piece set with two bottles and the box as shown here did appear at Sotheby’s Paris in November 2009 where it sold for a premium inclusive total of €16,250 for the three pieces, over double the high estimate of €6000 - €8000.
A set of the three bottles sans box also shown here was offered in March of this year at the Drouot in Paris by Coutau-Bégarie with an estimate of €16,000 - €18,000. The auction house chose a close-up of the these three bottles as the cover illustration for their catalogue as shown at the top of this article. The bottles appeared to have glass sickness as seen in the lot photo above, and did not sell.
Finally of course, below is the three bottle set that walked into the U.S. Antiques Roadshow in Corpus Christi Texas. Credit goes to the family cat for the absence of the matching box (didn’t these come with a house pets warning label?), and each surviving bottle in the set had damage, or the sickness that can be seen in the photo, or both. Yet with all those complications, we judge the appraiser came inside the wide range of right with her valuation. The picture is linked to the roadshow page where you can watch the video.
** The stopper design for the largest of the perfume bottles was also used for the Floreal Paperweight mounted on a square black base. This model is extremely rare to find in the authentic R. Lalique version shown in the preceding link. However it has been mightily reproduced in crystal by the modern Cristal Lalique company.
*** Additional information can be found in the Rene Lalique Catalogue here at RLalique.com in the Perfume Bottles category for the bottles, and in the Box category for the box.
**** Glass sickness, or the clouding of the interior of the glass, can usually be removed, but this will have to wait for another article down the road. However we can say for sure now, that the contributing factor of the stopper has nothing to do with its nude (or not) decoration!
***** You might wonder why the Myosotis bottles are referred to as perfume bottles, flacons, cologne bottles, or Eau De Toilette bottles, while the two Sirenes stoppered bottles mentioned here are called vases. It’s a one-word answer: marketing.
Pierre Leblache is an Ebay seller doing business under the screen name Hardweejun. But here at World Headquarters he’s known as Johnny Shoe Trees! **
He’s had a questionable listing or two over the years, and we thought it’s about time to bring one to your attention.
Here is a link to the latest questionable offering:
The message from the title is easy enough to understand. Obviously a Rene Lalique bottle :).
Ebay has pretty strict guidelines about spamming listing titles for a variety of good reasons. These reasons can be summarized (by us) as follows: Titles are for saying what you are selling! They are not for saying what you aren’t selling. Here, JST starts right out: Rene Lalique! Wonder why?
Obviously we know of no evidence that the bottle shown in the ad and pictured here was made by Rene Lalique.
In the “take from this what you will” department, it’s interesting how the description for this particular ad is in French! When we viewed the seller’s other items at the time of writing this, all 8 of his other ads were in English. But no matter, as the title proclaims “Rene Lalique”, who cares if you can’t read or understand French ****. And such a bargain for under $100. Hardly seems worth the effort typing up all that French language gobbledegook *****.
We once wrote this New York seller to ask him to backup a long-winded and involved claim in an ad essentially stating that a particular perfume bottle was authentic per Lalique company documents. He replied that all those documents were at his French country house! Surprise! That was some time ago. Obviously we never got to see any documents.
As always, we are happy to be corrected if we have our facts wrong. So if anyone has any authoritative evidence close-at-hand showing the bottle in this article is a Rene Lalique Perfume Bottle, please let us know. In the meantime, be careful out there.
UPDATE: April 16th, 2014
Another ridiculous listing has appeared from Hardweejun, this time Item No. 371043589156 titled “Rene Lalique 1937: Original “Tzigane” Bottle for Corday. VG Cond. No Label.”
The bottle has no R. Lalique signature. This is excused in the description with the crazy comment as follows: “Lalique did not sign the bottles he made for parfumeurs (except occasionally for his best friends and clients such as Coty or Worth) and he usually only signed the bottles sold empty in his store.”
This nutty claim is of course contrary to the facts.
The Tzigane Perfume Bottle for Corday was introduced in 1938. It had the words Tzigane and Cordy Paris molded into the glass on the side of the bottle, and the molded signature R. Lalique on the underside. Conveniently, we have a photograph of the underside of an R. Lalique Tzigane Perfume Bottle which is shown below in the right hand photo with a molded R. Lalique signature. And even more conveniently, you can buy this molded signature Tzigane bottle right here if you are looking for one! We put the photo of the underside of the Hardweejun bottle on the left, right next to the R. Lalique molded signature Tzigane photo on the right so you can see for yourself if there is any kind of difference that might be of interest.
A couple closing points about this. We always say don’t buy signatures, because there are so many fake signatures out there. But for this model, there are Tzigane bottles that are very close to Lalique’s original design, that were not made by Rene Lalique. And here, you wouldn’t be buying the signature, you would be buying no signature. That brings us to our second point. For most collectors, it’s best to avoid the convoluted explanation of why there is no signature on a piece that someone is trying to sell you. Instead, stick with pieces that stand on their own, but are backed up by an authentic signature. You want the piece to authenticate the signature, and not the other way around. Here you have a convoluted explanation for why there is no signature. Why would a typical collector get down in this mud trying to figure this all out, when there are obvious authentic R. Lalique Tzigane bottles for sale all the time that don’t require some crazy (or any) explanation?
And our final thought: When you go to sell your new no signature purchase however many years down the road, will you be prepared to tell that same story to your prospective purchaser?
Once again, be careful out there.
End of April 16th, 2014 Update
**This seller once had a pair of used loafers for sale on Ebay for something like $800. And in the photos showing the old shoes, they had shoe trees in them. BUT, when you read the fine print in the ad, even though shown in the photo, the shoe trees were not included! That’s right, for $800 no shoe trees! Apparently the expression really is: Keep your friends close and your shoe trees closer! And there you have it: JST!
*** TBE = Tres Bon Etat (very good condition). TPR = Tres Pas R.Lalique!
**** Here is a link to an article with the notorious video of President Obama making fun of the poor French language skills of Americans.
***** Gobbledegook is something that’s hard to understand. Think mumbo jumbo, or the expression “It’s all Greek to me!”, that descends from a line in Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Ceasar.
In the mailbox yesterday:
” …… It is possible that both the opalescent Bacchantes and Green Medusa Vases currently being offered on eBay may not exist. I think they are being offered by the same party. I have sent four emails asking about condition on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and requesting additional photos as of now I have received no response. These same prices were up for sale several months ago and I know they sold. My email address is ……”
Read-in to that email what you like, it’s probably all there.
Here are the relevant auctions (the writer of the email omitted one).
Let’s talk about the warning signs for a suspected stolen photo online offer:
1. Zero feedback seller.
2. Recently registered seller.
3. High value items, and known to be such, starting out at a low price, no reserve, and FREE shipping.
4. Totally different photo background in each of three listings from the same seller.
5. Seller will not provide specific, or recent, or any photos. Ask for something very specific if you are going to waste your time: a photo that is unlikely to be available to a seller that does not have possession of the item (send me a photo of the piece next to a soda can or other specific household item, or with a pencil laid across the top rim). For high value items, what seller ignores you and fails to provide a requested photo?
6. You find the same item and photo background in a previous sold auction listing at RLalique.com and the current seller is not the previous seller, nor is the current seller the previous buyer. **
Of course, for confirmation you can see if you get the great reply to a buy-it-now offer: “Wire me the money so I can save the Ebay and credit card fees and I’ll accept!”
Doing some reading-in to all of the above, we recall fondly the great W.C. Fields 1939 movie: You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man.
For additional information on this topic see our previous article about suspected stolen photo auction listings.
And a reminder that while we don’t catch everything, if an online auction appears problematic, you might find it in the Suspicious Auctions listings! We usually have 100 to 200 current listings there at all times!
Of course opinions vary, and if anyone doesn’t find these 3 listings suspicious and wants to throw caution to the wind (how many times are you going to ask for photos? :), we want to be the first to congratulate you and wish you good luck with your new bargain purchases!
** Check out the Meduse Vase model page in the Rene Lalique Catalogue here at RLalique.com. Courtesy of the Oracle, the original Ebay listing link from July 2013 for the green Meduse Vase has been restored so you can check out the original auction and the photos. Funny how history repeats; the old sold item has a title incorrectly calling it Medusa, just like the new suspicious one! Hmmmm.
Glass items that have an R. Lalique signature along with the word CREATION are often a source of confusion for owners and potential buyers. However, there is no authentic R. Lalique pre-war item made during the lifetime of Rene Lalique that has the word CREATION as part of the signature.
But these CREATION items account for a regular supply of listings on the Suspicious Auctions page here at RLalique.com because they are often falsely represented as period works of Rene Lalique.
The R. Lalique CREATION signature at the top of this article is typically found on the blue Worth round flask shaped bottles as shown in the second photo.
The only real difference in this example signature and similar ones found on other flask style blue Worth bottles would be the volume of the bottle in ml as shown for different size bottles.
Before we get too far into this, we want to remind everyone that we assume that most owners of these items offering them up as R. Lalique period pieces actually believe that they have a genuine R. Lalique pre-war item.
But whether it’s duplicity, ignorance, or wishful thinking on the part of a seller is irrelevant to a potential buyer.
As a buyer, you want to be educated enough to either have the facts or to know where to get them. To be savvy enough to rely on your own analysis and research and not on what a seller might or might not say.
In short, it’s best to spend time checking out the facts and the piece, and not fretting over what the seller might or might not know.
All the perfume bottles pictured in this article contain the CREATION signature. All are post war modern bottles, and none are authentic R. Lalique pre-war bottles notwithstanding the molded signatures.
And as an item of interest but not relevant to authenticity as R. Lalique, some or all of these bottles were not even made by the modern Lalique company.
The third photo above is the signature on a mid-1980’s modern reproduction of the ball shaped Dans La Nuit Stars Perfume Bottle for Worth shown in the fourth picture.
We’ve also included the modern Molinard de Molinard Perfume Bottle with the CREATION LALIQUE signature as shown in the two photos below.
There are some third party reference materials out there that say (directly or by inference) that this model Molinard bottle is a reproduction of an original Rene Lalique design (see Lalique Perfume Bottles by the UTTS Page 85 and the 2004 Catalogue Raisonne Red 3rd Edition Page 945, both saying this is a 1929 R. Lalique design for a Molinard Bottle named Iles D’Or, but all references to this bottle are omitted from the most recent 2011 Green Edition of the Cat Res). So we figured to show it just make sure there is no confusion.
Of course, if you just remember the general rule that the CREATION mark on the underside means modern, then you won’t be confused.
Obviously it would have been better if like the collectible auto business here in the U.S. they had used the phrase “recreation” (or with the hyphen “re-creation”) as the meaning would then be hard to miss.
All these modern signatures (and quite a few others) are documented and discussed in the signatures section here at RLalique.com, on the page for post-war modern crystal Lalique signatures.
Ok Ok, there never was a Rene Lalique Calypso Light Fixture back in the day. But somehow they keep popping up, and we’ve had a few questions about them in our overloaded mailbag from time to time. So we figured with the latest inquiry, to clear it up not just for our current readers, but for anyone down the road that might be looking up at 5 or 6 mythical nude siren figures swirling around an overhead opalescent glass bowl shaped light fixture sporting an R. Lalique signature!
I would be grateful for any help you can give me in authenticating a chandelier I own.
It would appear to be an Ondines Chandelier by R Lalique but I cannot find any reference on your or other websites to chandeliers appearing with the Ondines design.
I believe that the item has been in my family for at least 60 years. The bowl itself is 9 cm high and 30 cm diameter (approximately). The faint R Lalique stamp appears in the centre of the base of the bowl.
I attach three photos including one showing the Lalique stamp.
I am hoping that you can let me know whether the chandelier was made as such, is a bowl later converted into a chandelier, and in either case whether it is a genuine Lalique piece.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Hi Mr. X. Thanks for visiting the website and for contacting us.
The bowl is not Ondines (6 sirens), but Calypso (5 sirens).
This appears (we don’t authenticate items that are not fully visible, and with the hardware on, your piece it is in that category) to be a converted bowl, with all the hardware added. Forgetting all the facts, think about Rene Lalique …. the undecorated flat bottom is the giveaway…. it wouldn’t** be like that for something made and sold by him as an overhead fixture …. it just doesn’t go over.
Because Calypso is bigger (Ondines bowl is 8 inches), it is more often seen converted to a hanging or ceiling fixture.
This is not the first of these we’ve seen of course:
And see this very similar 2-siren model, which was sold as a fixture for the difference in how it would look from below as an original light fixture design by R. Lalique:
We could have skipped a lot of typing by just observing that it appears the sirens are still busy luring the unwary onto the rocks! **
And we didn’t get into the number of hanging cords with the questioner, but it appears from the photos that there are only three, and four would be much more typical for these hanging bowl fixtures from Rene Lalique.
Finally, on a more esoteric level, there is the whole question of altered items typically being deemed drastically less desirable and less valuable (or nearly valueless in many cases) by collectors when Lalique himself never would have put a curse on pieces put to good alternate uses. Usable art glass brought into the homes of everyday people; Lalique himself spoke about it. Heck, he invented it.
And about alterations, he drilled holes in many bowls (but not Calypso or Ondines) to attach hanging cords, and marketed them as light shades. He cut bowls in halves and quarters and called them appliques. He affixed seals to small dishes and called them ashtrays. He sold car mascots as paperweights, and re-used parts from some pieces to make others. He even drilled holes into the sides of vases for running electric cords to convert them to lamps. Heaven Forfend!
Just thinking out loud ……. well actually, just typing silently :).
** Of course a plain bottom did not prevent the marketing of Madagascar as a light fixture. But this is not really a direct comparison as the bottom of Madagascar though big, is crudely ancient (not in a bad way) and not flat.
*** In Greek mythology, the sirens lured nearby sailors to wreck their ships on the rocks by attracting them with wondrous sounds. Just above is The Siren, a wonderful painting by the 19th century British artist Edward Armitage. Even today, the phrase “siren song” is used to describe something that sounds great but is not going to end well.
If you always wondered what King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, 16th Century Portuguese explorers, the movie “Legends of the Fall”, U.S. baby naming preferences, and Rene Lalique have in common; well we have the answer right here!
In Arthurian legend, Tristan (as shown here in an Arthur James Draper depiction) is the 12th century** Cornish Knight of the Round Table having a scandalous relationship with Iseult, the wife of the King. Incidentally, this tale of complicated involvement was kept alive in story form in France by hundreds of poets over the following centuries.
A few hundred years later, the Portuguese explorer Tristao da Cunha stumbled upon what is now the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, around 1750 miles south of South Africa. He named the main island and the island group after himself. Go figure.*** The islands have a bit of a colorful history being used as a weather station and U-Boat monitoring facility during World War II; being visited by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1957 (with the pictured main town Edinburgh of the Seven Seas then named after him); and being dang close to a late 1950’s U.S. Atomic Bomb test!
But before the 1900’s, when the Brits got a hold of the islands (formerly annexing them in 1816 just after the first permanent settler from of all places Salem Massachusetts landed in 1810), they dissed Tristao and changed the name to Tristan da Cunha, a name that has been shortened colloquially to Tristan. Note that the Queen of England still reigns over Tristan and it’s 250 or so inhabitants.
In 1928, Rene Lalique, a man not unfamiliar with complicated involvements, introduced his vase model no. 1013. The vase was a heavy plain round container, with a pair of opposing large upward pointing and outward curving leafs. He named the vase Tristan.
A little closer to our own time, after the great movie “Legends of the Fall” was released in 1994, Tristan, the name of the character in the movie played by Brad Pitt, became (and remains to this day) one of the top 100 baby boy names in the United States!
And in our own time, and perhaps more important to most readers than all the preceding (unless of course you are a relative of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland author Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, whose younger brother was a missionary and schoolteacher on Tristan); on December 18th at the Sotheby’s salerooms in New York City, a cobalt blue Rene Lalique Tristan Vase appeared as Lot No. 122. The 8 inch by 13 inch vase, with its unique form and rare coloring was estimated at $45,000 to $60,000. But by the time the hammer came down it had more than doubled the high end of that estimate with a final sales price including commissions of $125,000!
That price makes the blue Tristan Vase total, one of the five highest auction sale prices that we know of having ever been recorded for a colored glass R. Lalique commercial vase, putting it in close company with the red Hirondelles Vase, the cased yellow Oranges Vase, and the blue Poissons Vase.
Another world record auction price for an R. Lalique Vase. It’s like déjà vu all over again.****
** 12th Century: or 11th or 13th, you can never be too approximate with legends.
*** “Go figure” is an American slang with a few related uses, including the one here to emphasize and ridicule that the obvious or expected had happened.
**** “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” is one of many famous expressions from the New York Yankees great Yogi Berra. He had a well-deserved reputation for entertaining phrases including “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” When asked about his reported ability to twist a phrase, he replied “I really didn’t say everything I said.”
R. Lalique once again made a strong showing at the Christie’s South Kensington semi-annual Lalique sale on November 21st.
Vases led the way with several world record prices, yielding a sale total including buyer’s premium of £596,875 (all results are reported to include the premium), or about $960,000 at an exchange rate used throughout this article of about 1.61 U.S. dollars per British pound.
Of the total 157 lots in the sale, approximately 37 were modern crystal reproductions or just modern crystal designs, leaving 120 original R. Lalique pieces on offer. Of those 120 works of Rene Lalique, 20 failed to sell, for a take-up rate of about 83% on the original works. The 100 sold R. Lalique items added up to £484,724 or an average price of about £4850 ($7800) per lot.
Top sellers were led by a Perruches Vase in blue glass that made a surprisingly strong £55,000, or about $88,500. Next was a tie between two lots: an amber glass Perruches Vase and a pair of Lausanne Light Fixtures. Each of these lots made £32,500 or about $52,500. Fourth place went to a frosted Serpent Vase making £30,000 ($48,500) followed by another Perruches Vase, this one in opalescent glass, which sold for £27,500 ($44,500).
The top five lots accounted for £177,500 or over 1/3 of the R. Lalique total. 4 of the top 5 prices were for vases, and 3 of those vases were Perruches Vases.
Some other notable prices include an opalescent Ceylan vase for £13,750 ($22,000), a Dinard Box at £11,250 ($18,000), and a Quatre Cigalas Perfume Bottle at £4,375 ($7,000).
The price of the blue Perruches Vase, the last lot of the sale, represents a world record price at auction for a blue Perruches Vase, and for any Perruches Vase, exceeding the price of approximately $75,500 set in these same salerooms just 6 months ago. The price on the Ceylan is also a world record price for any Ceylan Vase at auction, as is the price for the frosted Serpent Vase, though colored glass Serpents have sold higher. Finally, the Dinard Box total also is a likely world record.
Here is a link to all the results (including the lot descriptions).
As usual, the staff at Christie’s South Kensington, led by the experienced Joy McCall, did a great job of assembling a diverse group of attractive and desirable items, and working with all potential bidders in a pleasant and professional manner.
Another successful sale for Christie’s South Kensington and another great day for the great Rene Lalique.
October 20th at Artcurial in Paris will see the first appearance at a major auction of a Hibou (Owl) Car Mascot in many years.
The general storyline amongst many dealers and collectors is that the Renard (Fox) Car Mascot is the rarest of the commercial models. But there have been several foxes appear in the last decade, and only a couple of owls (not including for either model any that have appeared as part of an entire R. Lalique Car Mascot collection). It is easily possible and even likely, that the rarest of the commercial mascots is not the fox, but is the owl.
How will this translate into price for the rare Hibou? We will all know soon enough. There are many variables but there are also many collectors missing the owl from their mascot collections. And times have changed in the bidding scene at auctions.
In the past, only a bidding ring of dealers might know about a particular piece at auction and possibly a small number of collectors or others that could be co-opted, cajoled, or threatened into not competing against them **. But this has changed dramatically with the appearance of this website and the attendant individual collector bidding on major pieces triggered by the Worldwide Auction Listings at RLalique.com. Now all interested parties can find out about most items that appear at auction, and individual collectors and others can compete worldwide with dealers, museums and other collectors for rare pieces. And notwithstanding reports of continuing efforts to suppress bidding at auction by certain notorious persons, now there are often just too many outside bidders for conspirators to even know about in advance, let alone “get to” ***.
Also, other techniques such as trash talking a piece, claiming it’s fake, or claiming it’s fatally damaged in order to put potential bidders off the item are also common techniques for some. We even received on email from one regular dealer in R. Lalique claiming this owl was cracked. Hmmmmmm. We’ve seen this barking before with a great opalescent Vitesse and a Renard at auction as just two examples), but of course, the pool of potential bidders is now so large, it’s just difficult to put them all off with wisecracks **** about likely fairy tale condition issues. And of course, most serious bidders will confirm condition directly with the auction house, and/or engage an independent consultant on major purchases.
The auction house has placed an extremely conservative estimate on the owl. In 1987 for example, before the peak of prices around 1990, a Hibou appeared at auction and sold for over 378,000 French Francs including the buyer’s premium. At the time, 26 years ago, this was the equivalent of over $66,000.
We are aware of reports of Hibou sales made privately in the past several years including at least one sold through this website, for prices that are multiples of the previous record auction price discussed above. These sales range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. To put this in perspective, we are aware of a sale of an owl mascot TO a dealer in the last decade for a reported $150,000.
With the Fox Car Mascot making successive auction price records at its two most recent auction appearances (Fox Record Price 1, Fox Record Price 2), we would expect no less from what may be an even rarer chance to obtain this elusive prize.
Should be a wild ride ending a bit above the estimate :).
** See a series of articles published at RLalique.com discussing bid rigging at auctions.
*** “Get to” in this usage means influence.
**** A “wisecrack” is a clever remark.
Like all other markets for just about any kind of product or service, the market for the works of Rene Lalique attracts new scammers from time to time. Note that we say “new scammers” to differentiate for purposes of this article any of the handful of notorious usual suspects that might be classified as “old scammers”!
Ebay is a bit of a magnet for scams, though safe trading on Ebay is as easy as being careful and following their procedures so that you can get made whole if your common sense gets pushed aside from time to time. Heck as we noted in discussing this problem previously, rumor has it one of the notorious usual suspects that you would think might recognize a scam when it appears is rumored to have been taken in by a stolen photo listing on an R. Lalique Red Poissons Vase a while back!
All that said, we thought we’d bring the latest reason to think twice before throwing caution to the wind. Here is a link to a saved/cached image version of the original 221253254631 listing online.*** It’s offered by a recently registered zero feedback user.
And we present two photos, one from the current Ebay ad, and one from a Chardons Vase listed here on RLalique.com. Twin vases, twin lighting, twin glare spots, twin photos! What are the odds?
How do you protect yourself from these types of scams? Here are few of the ways you can lower your risk of a headache, a loss, or both.
Always ask for additional photos; maybe one of the vase next to a soda can for example. Or one with a ruler laid across the top rim of the vase. Basically, any photos not likely to be in the seller’s picture inventory if they don’t have the item in-hand. You should also check RLalique.com’s new R. Lalique Catalogue and see if any of the photos look a little too similar to the ones in the auction you’re considering. Finally, never wire funds or pay by check for an online auction. Use a payment service such as paypal and a credit card to give yourself added protection.
Basically, when you’re ready to get rolling on your next must have online purchase, just keep in mind the iconic words of the late Michael Conrad!
*** You may have to use the zoom function of your browser (or whatever program opens images for you) to get the cached image to expand in the window if it does not appear full size. After clicking on the link to the item, a new window will open with the cached image in it. On a Mac, just click on the image and see if that expands it. If not, press the apple key and click on the cached image in your browser window. On a PC, hold down the alt key while clicking on the cached image.
The works of Rene Lalique, with some modern crystal pieces mixed-in, have been a longtime semi-annual attraction at Christie’s South Kensington in London. The first of this year’s Lalique sales had a total of 185 lots of which roughly 150 were R. Lalique. As usual most areas of the collecting field were on offer including everything from vases, perfume bottles, car mascots, and plates and bowls, to perfume burners, seals, architectural items, clocks, decanters, and lighting.
The sale started and ended with a run of vases, but the high seller was found among the car mascots, where Lot 99, a good looking Comete Car Mascot made £79,875 all-in, or about $121,000 at 1.51 Brit pounds per US Dollar**. This was against a pre-sale estimate of £35,000 to £45,000. The final price is thought to be a world record auction price for the Comete. Undoubtably the overall good condition influenced the final price, and overcame the fact that this rare model has appeared at auction at least once a year on average for the last 5 years. The runner-up bidder, a well known member of the local trade, was apparently somewhat disappointed in failing to secure the lot. It was reported that as the runner-up (to be) bid was topped, the runner-up bidder turned and walked out of the salesroom without waiting for the hammer to fall.
Next high seller was a good looking Red Hirondelles Vase, which made £73,875/$112,000 selling as the sale’s final Lot 185 against a pre-sale estimate of £40,000 - £50,000. The final total was about $20,000 below the record setting*** Hirondelles Vase which made over $132,000 in November of 2010.
This is a good time to note that for higher end items (a recent extremely rare car mascot a bit of an exception of course), the trend at Christie’s South Ken for R.Lalique under the direction of the knowledgeable and experienced Joy McCall, has been to go with conservative estimates and reserves. This policy appears to have paid off with generally strong to high prices from the resulting bidding interest. The Hirondelles and the Comete were no exception, a trend followed by all 15 of the high selling items, every one of which exceeded their high estimate on an all-in basis.
Tied for third high seller was a green glass Gros Scarabees Vase (Beetles Vase) which sold as Lot 181 for £49,875/$75,500 against an estimate of £25,000 - £35,000.
A pre-sale run through of the sale lots would have have left most astute observers figuring that these three pieces in one order or the other would be the three high sellers.
But the other lot that tied for third high seller was a total surprise. The Blue Perruches Vase selling as Lot 182 in the final run of large colored glass vases. It more than tripled the pre-sale estimate for a world record price at auction for a Blue Perruches and a world record price at auction for any Perruches Vase making £49,875/$75,500, the same price as the Beetles Vase, against a pre-sale estimate of £15,000 - £20,000.
Reportedly, there was determined interest on the colored Perruches Vases in the sale from a Russian bidder. So it would only take one other competitor with a lot of money and not a lot of concern to make a show stopping price. For this model, in this color, this price is a show stopper no doubt. The previous alignment of R. Lalique planets would have the green Gros Scarabees making around 3 (or more) times a Blue Perruches. But here they made identical final prices.
If the consignor of the Blue Perruches and the Gros Scarabees was the same, then considering the reported OK level of quality and condition of the two pieces, the two vase total strikes us as in the range of reasonable for the current market, but who would have guessed how they’d get to that total!
Rounding out the top 5 was a 42.5 cm by 52 cm rectangular panel originally designed for the the Cote D’Azur Pullman-Express. The panel Merles Et Raisins (Blackbirds and Grapes) more than tripled the low end of the £10,000 - £15,000 estimate for an all-in final price of £35,000/$53,000.
After the top 5 high sellers, the next 10 high sellers were all vases! And they all were outsold by the Blue Perruches! This group of 10 included an amber glass Gros Scarabees Vase at £33,750/$51,000 that sold to the Musee Lalique (which purchased around a half dozen R.Lalique items), an amber glass Serpent Vase which was about 12% below the world record for that model at £32,500/$49,000, a red Poissons Vase at the same price as the Serpent, a green Poissons Vase and a cased green Perruches Vase both at £31,250/$47,000, a green Perruches Vase at £21,250/$32,000, and a short looking but rare blue glass Milan Vase at £17,500/$26,500.
Reasonably common perfume bottles were very strong throughout the sale (Ambre Antique £2500/$3800 or Le Lys for D’Orsay at £2375/$3600 for example), and one added price of note was the very strong world record auction price of £5250/$8000 paid for a Dinard Box !
On the flip side**** of the preceding, Seals (cachets) and Paperweights were notably so-so to soft, with the very rare Pelican Seal selling as Lot 85 for only £1063/$1600. Of course these are much more narrow collecting fields and it takes two to tango to the top, as American watchers of Dancing With The Stars might know.
In the end, we saw the usual worldwide smattering of bidders from the United States to Russia, Luthuania to France, and plenty of places in between that is the hallmark of demand for the works of the great Rene Lalique. The sale totaled £799,812/$1,210,000 or roughly $9,200 per sold lot with the modern crystal pieces bringing the average down of course. If you take out the 20 modern crystal lots which made £36,313/$54,800 for an average of about $2750, then you have 111 Rene Lalique lots making £763,499/$1,152,000 or an average of about $10,400. The 131 sold lots out of the 185 offered made the take-up rate a somewhat disappointing but respectable 70% (that rate would be higher if you ignore all the modern stuff). Christie’s noted that by value, the take-up was about 90%, so the majority of the unsold lots were the relatively lower value items.
The last 7 lots of the sale, all colored vases, accounted for £292,375/$441,500 or about 36% of the entire sale total. Not too far from that, the 7 high sellers made £354,250/$535,700 or about 44% of the sale. The vast majority of the sale in value was for the great vases. Here’s a link to the Results In Lot Order
All-in-all, another great day for the great Lalique!
** Unless mentioned otherwise, all prices in this article are on an all-in basis and at roughly a 1.51 pounds to dollars ratio. In practice of course, some buyers have the added expense of local VAT, while others may have their local import duties and shipping, and some buyers may pay several percentage points more for currency conversions based on their payment method and other factors.
*** The red glass Hirondelles which sold in November 2010 set the record for the highest price ever bid for an R. Lalique colored glass vase at auction. On an all-in basis, it was the 2nd highest priced colored vase ever sold at auction. And of course, it was the record at auction both bid and all-in for any Hirondelles Vase.
**** Flip Side for those of you into oldies but goodies, originated with 45’s; that is 45 rpm records. The hit song (the advertised song) would be on the A side. The B side, containing some other song you probably didn’t want to listen to, was called the flip side as you had to flip the record over to play it. Now it’s used almost in the same way as “the other side of the coin” (makes sense doesn’t it?), or the opposite side, such as the opposite point of view, or just oppositely (which is our use here).
The bottom of the great and early R. Lalique Box was knocked off the counter and is gone forever. The R. Lalique Decanter bottom is krizzled, glass sick, or just cracked. The stopper to that great R. Lalique Perfume Bottle was dropped on the tile floor and is no more (that rhyme was not on-purpose). Many a collector, owner, or dealer has faced just these circumstances and many of these tales of woe find their way to the inbox here at World Headquarters!
One email on this subject, a non-woeful one at that, caused us to reflect a bit on these common occurrences and we thought we’d write a little about the whole subject of replaced parts because it comes up surprisingly often.
For starters we want to limit what we are talking about. We are only talking about pieces that have common parts originally made just that way by Rene Lalique Et Cie prior to the end of World War II in France.
So modern reproduced parts are not within the scope, including anything made by the modern Lalique company in crystal after the death of Rene Lalique. Also, a part made new after the war to look like an authentic part is also not within the scope (see the Faked Cluny or Senlis Vase story).
And this includes parts made from actual R. Lalique glass. So for example, if a dealer gets a glass guy to make a new stopper out of the thick base of a broken vase; to literally hand carve the thing from authentic Rene Lalique glass to the point where virtually no one would know the difference, this is not what this article is about.
And of course, the instance where a dealer takes the entire bottom off of a broken vase, and has it virtually seamlessly installed (better to say “unseemly” installed?) to replace the cracked bottom on another vase is definitely not for this discussion either.
We singled out boxes, decanters and perfume bottles because virtually every one of these items has at least two parts, and each of those parts was made in some volume. And that volume in many instances does not even have to be for the same model piece. For example many decanters share the same bottom; the same “blank”, and the only difference is the stopper (ignoring the addition of a signature, model number, and the scratched matching numbers on the stopper stem and decanter bottom to keep the pieces together during the finishing process). Ignoring the manufacturing differences in the mold blown decanter bottoms and the hand fitting and polishing of the stoppers, the decanter bottoms are meant to be identical in maybe a dozen or so original R. Lalique stemware sets. The bottom to a Colmar decanter is the same model as the bottom to a Obernai Decanter.
So in the spirit of the great American inventor Eli Whitney ***, the parts would be, in a perfect world, interchangeable. So if you break your decanter bottom, you can patiently wait on Ebay for the bottom to your model to come up. Or if you happen to have a model that has the bottom shared by others, for any one of them to come up. Or you can cruise the Paris flea market. Or you can contact RLalique.com and tell us about your “Want”. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world but it’s close enough that many seemingly hopeless situations can be addressed.
Sometimes a complete decanter, perfume bottle, or box may come up for sale, but because of the model, or damage to one of the pieces, or just luck of timing, it may go for a low enough price that it pays to buy the whole thing just to get the undamaged part you want (and hope it fits of course).
Well, we thought about all of this when the following email arrived which references the 1st photo above. And note that the names have been removed to protect the innocent of course:):
I have a query that needs your help!
My name is XXX and I work for a YYY based auction house in ZZZ. We have recently had a group of Lalique items consigned to us from a vendor who was left them. Amongst them is a Genevieve powder box. On your website the box is listed as Model Number 57, the one we have has an etched mark but is numbered 65. I cannot find any record of a model 65, can you help me? I have attached a photo of the mark if that helps. Kind regards,
The good news is the auction house is on the ball. Let’s face it. You got ghosts, where do you go? Actually, does Ghostbusters even have a website? Ok, let’s just move on.
So right away you know the auction house wants to get it right because they got the goods and went straight to RLalique.com and the new Rene Lalique Catalogue here at World Headquarters to make the identification! And they were on the ball enough to know because of the markings on the base (shown in the photo of the signature near the top of this article) that something was amiss. The catalogue says it’s box number 57, the base says it’s number 65. Hmmmm.
Our reply (again with identifying stuff blanked out and some minor grammar fixes to make us sound like we were paying attention in 5th grade English the day they mentioned dangling participle and other unknowable grammar stuff :):
Hi XXX. Thanks for contacting us. We are familiar with your auction house as we list R. Lalique items that come up in your sales in our Worldwide Auction section of the site. The last time was QQQQ.
About your question, it’s not unusual for the bottoms of boxes to be switched as many boxes use a common bottom. This can happen where the same owner has several boxes of the same size that use the same common box bottom. Or if the bottom is broken or lost and a dealer or an owner obtains a good bottom that appears on Ebay or elsewhere (Paris flea market) that has had the top to it break or disappear. Even today, since most of the blank common box bottoms have a signature on them, they can be identified as R. Lalique. And a couple of times a year a blank box bottom appears on Ebay for sale.
With R. Lalique, the same thing can occur with say some of the tableware set decanters, where the same blank was used for the bottom (the container) on maybe a dozen models, and the only difference is the stopper. Bottoms to these decanters do show up on the market from time to time, just like box bottoms, and if your decanter bottom gets glass sickness or gets broken, if you have a model that shares a common bottom, you can find a replacement that may or may not have a different model number written on it. Of course the stopper fitting properly is a bit more problematic with the mold blown decanter bottoms and hand fitted stoppers, than for the much more standard press mold boxes.
Box No. 65 is a box called Gui and it’s a 10 centimeter box just like the Genevieve. These two models actually appear next to each other in the 1932 Catalogue. So what you have is the bottom to a Gui box under a Genevieve box top. The bottoms would be identical other than the signature with that number (assuming the bottom you have is clear glass and not opalescent glass), and for most people it would be a distinction without a difference.
http://rlalique.com/rene-lalique-gui-box (where you can see part of the bottom in one of the photos)
There is also a slim chance that the mistake was made at the factory as very, extremely rarely, we see a mis-numbered piece. But we’d bet on it being a switch or replacement as described above.
And it might pay to talk to the consignor (assuming it’s a private and not a dealer) on the chance the Gui box is with a different family member or can be located and the original mates restored.
If you have any further questions, let us know.
Of course, now that we let the “yes there are repair guys that can make a stopper from a chunk of glass” fact out of the bag, it goes without saying that a good glass guy could clean up the inscribed number on the bottom of a box :).
And of course, even with mold pressed smaller pieces, due to the manufacturing techniques of the day, as well as possible later polishing to either or both the top and bottom, there might be some minor “fitting” involved even when switching what should be the same basic bases among boxes. A hair taller, a hair thicker would not be out of the question. In that regards consider the following:
We contacted two different owners of incredible box collections. Each checked their Genevieve Box and Gui Box bottoms for us and sent us photos and descriptions. In both photos the Genevieve Box bottom is on the left and the Gui Box bottom is on the right.
Collector 1 sent a photo (just above) showing their Gui box bottom to be shorter than the Genevieve bottom. And noted that the Gui top could not fit properly on the Genevieve bottom unless that bottom was lowered (polished down) slightly.
Collector 2 sent a photo (just above) showing their Gui box bottom to be taller than his Genevieve bottom! And this collector noted that the Genevieve box top would not fit over the Gui box bottom unless the Gui bottom was lowered slightly! This is exactly the reverse of Collector 1.
So, either it’s fit and finish at the factory owing to less than exact sizes coming out of the molds at the factory, or later polishing to either the top and/or bottom, or both. But again, the fact remains; the bottoms are basically interchangeable, possibly with some minor glass guy adjusting.
Here is another example of a different replacement part “Want” that was satisfied just last month:
The request (again, ID’s hidden and minor grammar corrections to make everyone look better):
good day to you from AAA, I am looking for the glass stopper for the COTYS AMBRE ANTIQUE perfume bottle. If anyone can help, many thanks BBB
Thanks for visiting the website and for contacting us.
BBB, the following Ebay listing appeared yesterday. The bottle is cracked and may sell very cheaply. The listing does not mention any issues with the stopper, though we’d suggest you confirm that with the seller before bidding. And also note that there is no assurance the stopper from one bottle will fit another. But it may be worth a chance.
Good luck if you decide to pursue it, and if you don’t get it, let us know and we’ll post your stopper in the wanted section.
KOL, thank you so much for spotting this.I will give it a try and let you know. This is the first sniff of a stopper that I have had for a year, so fingers crossed. Best Regards BBB
Our further reply:
Hi BBB. We listed another one of these today that’s at a small house in PA. The pic looks rough, but the stopper may be in good order and it seems a reasonable chance for a bargain if it is.
And the last we heard:
Hi KOL, with the help from an American buddy here I managed to get that bottle. It has not arrived in the AAA yet but so pleased I have it. All thanks to you and your diligence, so again many thanks for your help. ( think I’ll look for a nice Perruches bowl next. ) BBB
And of course the big question, is there anything wrong here in replacing a missing or broken part with a supposedly or nearly identical original R. Lalique part? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.
*** Eli Whitney was born in 1765 in Massachusetts. He invented the Cotton Gin in 1793. It’s an easily made machine that removes seeds from cotton much faster than the previous hand removal method of picking them out one by one. He later manufactured weapons such as muskets and was an aggressive advocate of manufacturing using interchangeable parts. Whitney had a major impact on the entire United States in the antebellum period. Counterintuitively, though the Cotton Gin was a labor saving device, it made slavery a stronger institution in the South and enriched the South by making previously unprofitable cotton types and fields profitable by lowering the cost of production. Cotton production skyrocketed after the introduction of the cotton gin, slave labor became highly profitable, and a declining slave industry was re-invigorated. In the 17 years after the appearance of the Cotton Gin, U.S. cotton exports grew by nearly 200 times! Not 200 percent, but 200 times! As a result, in the decades before the Civil War, cotton accounted for over one-half of all U.S. exports.
On the other hand, while the South was engaged in a vast agricultural based commercial and wealth expansion because of the cotton gin, his push to manufacture with interchangeable parts strengthened the North’s existing industrial advantage over the South, and thereby contributed significantly to the North’s victory in the Civil War.
It’s been a while since we have been motivated to write about an Ebay seller of the works of Rene Lalique. The last time was to bring the practices of the Ebay screen name Dounial, aka Naim Bouchareb, dba Renaissance Antiques of Iowa to your attention.
But we write today to discuss three offerings on Ebay from pinkcupcakes-uk (we shorten that up to “Pinky” for brevity), a Norwich UK regular dealer in R.Lalique items.
While you are looking at Pinky’s offerings, keep something in mind. It’s not just what an ad says that can cause a buyer to be misled. It’s also what it doesn’t say. The seller in this case is a regular dealer in R. Lalique. When you look at the first ad at the link below, think about not just what the ad does tell you, but what this Lalique Dealer doesn’t tell you.
And our usual reminder that the motivation of the seller is irrelevant to your decision about buying from or dealing with a particular seller. A seller may not be intentionally misleading or purposefully putting out false information, they might believe their own false claims. But purposeful or not, the end result of relying on false claims is the same for the buyer. So it’s not really worth spending a ton of time pondering the question of malice or ignorance. The damage to a buyer can be just as great from dealing with an ignorant dealer as a dishonest one. We’ve railed* before that if you are going to buy from a regular seller of R. Lalique, how important it is to deal with a competent and honest dealer. So we deem it best to just be as knowledgeable as possible and to avoid dealers that fall into either category.
With all that said, here it the first offering:
This representation from this regular seller of R. Lalique items appears in the ad:
“very unusual shape of plate no chips /cracks/or hairlines”
A representation that word by word could be claimed to be true. We can see you at the used car dealer now, when the salesman tells you the car you are looking at has no dents, no scratches, and no paint chips of any kind! The only problem is that the front bumper, both front fenders, and the hood are missing. But not a scratch, not a dent, and no paint chips anywhere. Hmmmmmmmm.
The second listing is:
Funny how these footed Moissac Vases with R. Lalique signatures always seem to come thru a dealer. Note in the photo below that in this example the R. does not appear to line up with or match LALIQUE.
We don’t know of any evidence that these footed Moissac Vases were made before the war. That is why footed Moissacs do not appear in the Rene Lalique Catalogue here at R.Lalique.com. We also note that they do not appear in the 2011 R.Lalique Catalogue Raisonne by Monsieur Marcilhac. We of course would welcome any factual evidence from anyone to back up the claim that these Moissac Vases with the wide base are authentic pre-war R. Lalique items.
The third and final listing we want to bring to your attention has met the difficult task of hitting a trifecta** of issues in just one listing. A trifecta within a trifecta when considering the entire situation really.
Item 251231416506 stunning rene lalique d orsay powder box of mythological maidens c1920!
1. The glass bottom to the box is not original to the piece. Hard to have a box without the bottom. Not a lot of picture is given to that glass bottom in the photos. “pristine condition” is the claim at the top of the ad from this regular seller of R. Lalique items.
2. The box appears to be cut down. The molded signatures are not shown on the lower portion of the top piece where you would expect to find them. “pristine condition” is the claim of this regular seller of R. Lalique items.
3. This is almost laughable. Pinky shows you two pictures of a signature in the ad. But they aren’t from the box, we think they’re likely from a Gui Vase. Now that’s a mark of authenticity and reliability when a seller shows you photos of the signature, even when it’s not on the piece in the ad, right?
Here is a link to an Ebay Ad with detailed photos of this model box showing the signatures on the side and an original cardboard bottom.
So to review, we have a mutilated plate with no cracks, chips, or hairlines, a highly questionable vase, and likely just part of the top of a box, mated with a bottom not original to the top, and a signature from some other item showing in the ad. Oh yea about the box… “pristine condition”.
All for sale at the same time by the same lalique dealer. Do you think this dealer may have had his share of complaints? Check out the comments about Pinky from some satisfied customers:
I purchased it as a relisted item …ignored emails and then said “dog ate it”
Seller response to my query was abusive
BEWARE OF SELLER!!!!!!!!
Item had big chip not described at all in description. I wouldn’t buy from again
BEWARE .THIS SELLER DOES NOT TELL THE TRUTH. USE YOUR BUYER BEWARE WISELY!!!!!!!
Item had faults not described at all in description. I wouldn’t buy from again.
Worst transaction I’ve had, never again!!
Item damaged. Was returned. They relisted as PRISTINE !!!!!!!!!
Seems like more than your run-of-the-mill*** issues for a seller with a 123 feedback rating.
If more R.Lalique listings with questionable and/or outright false claims continue to appear from Pinky, we’ll update this article with the new material from time to time.
* Railed is used as the past tense of the verb “rail” - to strongly espouse a position. An example would be “The speaker railed against corruption in politics.” Typically you would “rail” against something. Here, we “rail” for something.
** A Trifecta in horse racing is correctly picking the top three finishers in order in a race. But like so many other sporting expressions, it is now used more off-handedly to include any triple accomplishment, be it good or bad. Consider a lousy restaurant trifecta - bad service, horrible food, and high prices.
*** Run-Of-The-Mill is an American expression from the late 1800’s ramp-up into the industrial age, where ordinary production of items from a mill, nothing special, were referred to as run-of-the-mill. It’s now used in a variety of run of the ____ phrases to mean ordinary, common, or usual.