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 email@example.com. 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!
In the 1989 movie The Last Crusade starring Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, while facing a life or death choice among a table full of chalices with just one chance to identify the legendary Holy Grail and save his father, Jones passes over all the ornate goblets and settles on the plainest Jane* of the lot.
Making his choice he famously exclaims That’s the cup of a carpenter.**
Well, he would have taken a pass on October 15th at the Fauvre Paris Auction House, where an amazingly simple, elegant and incredibly unique goblet by Rene Lalique appeared at auction with a restrained pre-sale estimate of €40,000 – €60,000.
The 6 and 1/4 inch goblet featured a stylized repeating intertwined thin leaves motif silver openwork frame with rhinoceros beetles highlighted by blue and black enamel, all surrounding blown in opalescent glass. In addition it had a well worked base and a pretty cool beetle mark on the underside.
It was classic Rene Lalique, devoid of expensive gems, and having nothing in common with the ornate bejeweled chalices so long in fashion among the upper classes and royalty of the period.
It was art plain and simple, in the great tradition of Lalique’s unique metalwork and jewelry, for which Emile Galle named Lalique “the inventor of modern jewelry”.
Making great objects as art, using materials only for what they bring to the piece, and not for their intrinsic value, Lalique was able to call forth pictures in his mind, and bring them to fruition in a way that his contemporaries could not imagine. Rhinoceros beetles as the design highlight of a great chalice?***
The chalice was created during the period 1895 to 1897. It was exhibited at the l’Exposition Universelle de Paris in 1900, which was the groundbreaking appearance for the jewelry and unique objects of Rene Lalique. It was again shown at the Salon de 1902, section Arts Décoratifs in Paris where it was acquired and then descended to the consignor at the auction.
Obviously notwithstanding the lack of jewels or excessive highly worked precious metals, Lot 77 was not the cup of a carpenter. It was the cup of an artistic genius and highly accomplished jeweler.
Today, the phrase Holy Grail is not just used to describe the cup of Christ or other alternate objects.
It’s also come to mean something you want very much; something of great significance that’s very important; or something that is difficult to accomplish or achieve.****
The Chalice had one condition problem. The blown in opalescent glass was severely damaged (though reasonably stable) as shown in the last photo here. That did not deter the roughly dozen serious bidders that competed from across the globe for the chance to own the great object of desire.
From one end of North America to the other, and from the UK to the edge of Europe and beyond, the auctioneer Cedric Melado heard from phone bidders competing with strong left bids and room bidders to make the acquisition. Bid amounts quickly left the pre-sale estimate behind and one by one the competitors withdrew until only a Frenchman in the room remained the last man standing.
He outlasted all the international interest and won the day with a final all-in bid of €206,250 (or about $235,000).
The new owner has at least one thing in common with Indiana Jones; they both chose wisely.
Kudos both to the auction house and to the expert Amélie Marcilhac. The auction house and expert got the sale information and extensive lot information out in a timely manner, and responded to inquiries immediately. And of course, they got the attention of RLalique.com. Getting all necessary information and getting questions answered was quick, easy, and professionally managed. Our experience shows that top notch service and complete information encourages confidence in bidders. The sale of this chalice was a good example of how to do it right.
Of course a good day for the auction house and their expert, and a great day for the great Rene Lalique.
For additional information, see this Chalice’s auction page here at RLalique.com.
* A plain Jane is an ordinary looking or average girl or woman. It has also come to mean any ordinary looking object.
** Holy Grail Object: A cup, plate, stone, etc. of too many legends and connections to recount here. But what Harrison Ford did in the movie, was cement a connection in much of the modern public mind between the legend of the Holy Grail and the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper, the Holy Chalice. That connection is but one of many stories and explanations that have developed over time.
*** Rhinoceros Beetles: Maybe they reminded him of his mother-in-law.
**** Holy Grail Expression: For example, a cure for all cancers would be the holy grail for many medical researchers.
When you think about auction houses around the world that handle large amounts of R. Lalique, you naturally think first of the 4 big companies that claim to have the highest total dollar sales. They all conduct auctions in multiple locations and they all get a substantial amount of R. Lalique.
But what you might not know, is that that the No. 5 leading auction house for R. Lalique items doesn’t have a salesroom in Paris, or London, or New York. Nope! And it’s not L.A. or Chicago either.
For the No. 5 you’d want to take a trip to a former ferry location on the Delaware River just a stone’s throw from Pennsylvania. It’s a small town in a rural area that in the early 1800’s was named, in a longstanding American tradition, after a politician in same year it got its first post office! Well, 200 years later, there is still only one post office.
And while the town’s population seemed like it was going to break the 4000 persons ceiling in 1990 when it reached over 3900 residents, it still has not been able to do so even 25 years later.
To be fair, we keep calling it a town but it is a city; one of the smallest cities in the United States. And contrary to what might come to mind when the geography challenged neophytes that rely heavily on stereotypes might understandably think when they hear “New Jersey”, Lambertville is not Newark. Not even close.
Lambertville is a great quiet, artsy, quaint, antique haunt, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. When you throw in a surprising selection of unique restaurants and some amazing bed-and-breakfast lodgings, you have the makings of a very pleasant long-weekend only an hour and a half outside of New York City.
And getting to the point of our story, if you are an R. Lalique collector, well it can be really pleasant. Because Lambertville is home to the Rago Arts And Auction Center, likely the world’s No. 5 auction house seller of R. Lalique over the last 10 to 15 years. Rago has sold an average of around 200 R. Lalique pieces per year over that time frame.
On October 16th, 2015 Rago will add to their great R. Lalique history with a near 80 lot offering of a wonderful looking single owner collection.**
About 50 of the lots are vases, and about 30 of those vases are colored vases.
The biggest pre-sale estimate belongs to Lot 1, a topaz glass bronze handled Cluny Vase estimated at $80,000 – $100,000. The colored vase selection includes several Perruches, several Ronces, and 2 each of Monnaie Du Papes and Formoses.
For non-colored glass vases there is the seldom seen Los Angeles Vase and an enameled Antilopes Vase, as well as many others.
There are also some non-vase rarities including an Elephants Bowl ($12,000 – $16,000), a Caravelle Decoration ($65,000 – $80,000), and a Normandie Lamp ($6,000 – $8,000).
You can see all the lots in the catalogue online HERE!
Three great things about this sale jump out from the catalogue. First, overall the pieces look great. Second, the selection of items in the sale is exactly the marketable kind of items that many collectors are looking for today. And third, in the main*** the estimates appear very reasonable. It doesn’t look like they’re starting out at top dollar and hoping to move up from there. It appears they plan to sell the stuff.
Those three points are further enhanced by the fact that Rago states that they guarantee the condition reports that you will find online linked from every lot in the sale. If something looks good you can read the guaranteed condition report right there.
Frank Maraschiello, a former Director at Bonhams in New York City, has recently affiliated with Rago. A lot of the staff at Rago has handled a bunch of R. Lalique over the years, and Frank has seen a decent amount as well. He can be reached through the main phone number for the auction house: (609) 397-9374.
When you talk to Frank about the pieces of interest, also ask him about the guarantee of the condition reports. But remember, satisfy yourself first. Do your homework first. The guarantee is a great bonus, but it’s just that, a bonus. If they mess-up, and then you mess-up, you have another backstop. A backstop you should not be expecting to need because you did your homework!
With the great knowledge and experience of the Rago staff; the great looking selection, the reasonable estimates, and the continuing good market for R. Lalique, it has all the makings of another successful Rago sale, and another great day for the great Rene Lalique.
** Well there are actually two joint owners listed in the catalogue. But for “offering” purposes and assumedly some others, they are considered to be one.
*** “In the main” means “for the most part”.
Cire Perdue Vases don’t come up for auction very often. Usually just a few a year. And to say they don’t usually appear at the online auction websites such as Ebay would be an understatement. But a great looking Cire Perdue did just that this week when it appeared from a Wisconsin seller (with over 18,000 positive feedbacks) that had purchased it at an estate goods shop.
The starting price was $999 with no reserve.
You can see the online auction HERE!
The new arrival is the vase Branches De Mures Formant Deux Anses. The vase has been unknown in modern times, likely purchased back in the day and not having come back to market. It appears in the Catalogue Raisonne only as a drawing.
The mold number 193 and the year it was made 1920 both properly appear on the underside in the glass as 193-20 and match the information in the drawing of the vase.
The vase features a wonderful blackberries motif and is represented by the seller to be basically in original condition, save minor fleabite type stuff with no cracks or chips. Obviously there are manufacturing imperfections caused by the nature of the process used to create the great Cire Perdue.
The copious photos included in the auction listing appear to confirm the condition description.
We were alerted to the offering around an hour after it appeared online, and immediately posted the vase in the Worldwide Auctions Section here at RLalique.com.
There is also a close-up picture in the highlight photos at the top of the auction page with a text link to take you straight to that listing and save having to scroll through all the other listings that are on that page (82 as of this writing).
The vase is 6 and 1/4 inches tall and a bit over 4 inches wide at its widest point.
Several bidders and interested parties have contacted World Headquarters to talk about the vase.
Judging from the level of chatter (with possibly some educated surmise thrown in), it seems that the vase should do quite well.
Of course as usual it will likely be a bit of a nailbiter** at the end as the hoped-for pre-arranged automated bids come in (or not) with seconds to go.
Additional information about Cire Perdue pieces, including an explanation of how they are made, as well as links to all areas of the website that might be informative on the subject, can be found in the Cire Perdue Section of the biography of Rene Lalique!
UPDATE 10-18-15: The vase sold for $65,100. Four different contenders had bids in at $45,000 or more.
**A nailbiter (or nail biter) is a tense or anxious situation, which is why many people chew on their nails to begin with.
Medically speaking, the habit of nail-biting is referred to as onychophagy. So if you bite your nails in public, you can rest assured that medically trained passersby may very well be referring to you in a smarmy manner as an onychophager, a word we just made up but seems right and it could even be a word.
And if all this is not bad enough, you might as well know that the American Psychiatric Association classifies nailbiters as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and words like “pathological” have often been used in conjunction with nail-biting behavior.
Basically it’s literally, figuratively, and literarily, about as close as you can come to wearing your bad habits on your sleeve (reaching back over 500 years to Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello – “But I will wear my heart on my sleeve”).
Christie’s June 16th semi-annual sale of R. Lalique added to what has been a long string of twice yearly solid to stellar performances stretching back for some time. The sale made a premium inclusive* £584,375/$911,625** of which £570,000/$889,000 was for the 91 sold R. Lalique lots, or an average of approximately £6264/$9800 for the R. Lalique.
As is more often the case than not, most of the offered lots were vases (70 of the 128 R. Lalique lots***), and they took up the better part of the high sellers after the top spot. That honor went to the rare model Source De La Fontaine Statue that sold as Lot 50 for £30,000/$47,000.
This shows that the sale had good depth when looked at by prices achieved, as no single lot accounted for even 6% of the sale total.
The next top four prices were all vases (save one item that tied for 5th place) as follows:
2. Lot 67 Perruches Vase Cased White Opalescent £23,750/$37,000
3. Lot 44 Perruches Vase Cased Red £22,500/$35,000
4. Lot 09 Quatre Masques Vase with handle £21,250/$33,000
5. TIE Lot 01 Serpent Vase with heavy patina £20,000/$31,000
5. TIE Lot 06 Firebird Decoration without the original base £20,000/$31,000
The sold percentage by lots was 98/137 or 71.5% overall, and 91/128 or 71% for the R. Lalique.
The opalescent Perruches Vase was a strong price. But one other sale item deserving of special mention was Lot 7, a clear glass Chamois Vase Model No. 1075 shown below.
This would typically be about a £500/$800 vase on a good day.
But with red staining and enamel it made £13,125/$20,500. Ignoring the fact that if the vase were red glass it may not have made that kind of number, somebody got themselves about $20,000 of red paint and enamel (P&E)!
We can’t say for sure if the applied coloring was original or not because we never handled the vase.
However we can say without hesitation that with the high price paid for the P&E, we’ll undoubtedly be seeing more P&E vases with wonderful colors in the future.
That wry**** observation aside, once again Joy McCall and her great staff came through with a good selection of items including a lot of colored glass vases. Their presentation was top notch, the customer service was high level, and the promotion was thorough. The result was another good day for Christie’s and another great day for R. Lalique.
* All sale figures used are premium inclusive.
** All dollar amounts are based on the estimate of $1.56 per British Pound and are rounded.
*** 2 of the R. Lalique lots were only partly R. Lalique.
**** “Wry” is dry and sometimes ironic humor. Consider this from actor Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer talking to a bad guy on the American T.V. Series 24 – “The only reason that you’re conscious right now is because I don’t want to carry you.” Of course he might not have been joking. Interestingly, Kiefer’s full name is Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland. Aspirations of royalty? His dad is the great Canadian actor Donald Sutherland, who is kindly remembered for his role as Hawkeye Pierce in the original 1970 movie Mash. Of course 45 years later, Donald is most famous for his role in the Hunger Games movies. However for true aficionados of mindless entertainment (count this writer all-in for that), his most important and lifetime achievement role (think Charlton Heston as Moses in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 movie The Ten Commandments) was in the 1978 National Lampoon movie Animal House. Most people I talk to (an admittedly and curiously narrow group) have seen that movie at least a dozen times.
We get a ton of incoming email inquiries here at World Headquarters. One came in recently with the following subject line:
Possible Bammako vase purchased at Goodwill for $5.99!
Possible Bammako vase purchased at Goodwill for $5.99!
The buyer of the vase was checking with us to see if the vase was authentic, and provided the following information:
I had it for two weeks before I looked for the maker’s mark. It is 18 cm.
The purchase was made based on looks and price. The buyer did not know it was the work of Rene Lalique.
How did the owner of the $5.99 purchase even find out the name? That’s easy. Here’s the typical scenario:
You don’t know anything about R. Lalique or Rene Lalique.
You find, inherit, or otherwise acquire a vase with an R. Lalique signature on the bottom. You type R. Lalique Vase into Google and see what comes up.
Hopefully your top result will be the main Vases Page in the Rene Lalique Catalogue here at RLalique.com. You click on that result and scroll through the photos of over 270 different vase models to find the one that matches your vase. The name of the vase is right under the picture, and in one click you are on the model page for that specific vase where you get just about all the information you might ever want to know.
The two photos shown here were included with the email. They tell the whole story. You can judge for yourself how we responded.
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! Sadly, the author of Legends Of The Fall, Jim Harrison, passed away in Patagonia Arizona March 26th, 2016, not far from World Headquarters. He had moved from rural Michigan to Montana (the setting for the story), and Arizona. In each place he wrote in solitude, surrounded by natural beauty. And while he stood on the shoulders of Thoreau, his writing was uniquely his own. He was regarded by many as the greatest living American fiction writer.
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.