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Myosotis Garniture De Toilette Dresser Set: Background And Appraisal Video

April 20th, 2014

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.

Myosotis Garniture De Toilette Bottles - A Close-Up Of The Stoppers - Rene Lalique

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).

Myosotis Forget-Me-Not Flowers And LeafThe 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.

Myosotis Garniture De Toilette Perfume Bottles - All Three Sizes - Rene LaliqueThoreau (“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.

Myosotis Garniture De Toilette Perfume Bottles - Two Of The Three Eau De Toilette Bottle And The Box - Rene LaliqueFinally, 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.

R.Lalique Glass Church: Rene Lalique Architectural & Religious Lalique Glass: St. Matthew’s Church in Jersey

August 18th, 2011

Jesse Boot - Baron Trent of Nottingham - Boots The ChemistsIn 1860, the year before the American Civil War started, 10 year old Jesse Boot of Nottingham England began helping his mother run the family medicine shop when his father John died. By age 13 he left school to concentrate on his work in the shop. In the ensuing decades, Jesse would turn the single medicine shop into the major national chain Boots the Chemists. 60 years later in 1920, he sold control of the “Chemists to the Nation” to an American company. Jesse died on the Channel Island of Jersey 11 years later in 1931.

Along the way Boot would be knighted Sir Jesse Boot (1909), create a baronet (1917), and in 1929, become Baron Trent of Nottingham, (not as cool as Sheriff, but still a great title:), aka Lord Trent. He did not live to see his son John, the 2nd Baron Trent and his own father’s namesake, re-acquire control of the chain in 1933 in the midst of the depression.

Rene Lalique Angels Raredos Alter Screen In St. Matthews Church The Glass Church In JerseyBoot was also a philanthropist, especially in Nottingham and in Jersey. For one of many examples, he donated the land for what is now the University of Nottingham, which opened in 1928, where the Jesse Boot Chair in Chemistry was named in his honor.

Boot’s wife, Lady Florence Trent (her maiden name was Florence Rowe) survived him. She kept her principal residence in Jersey, the place they had first met. But Lady Trent also kept a residence on the French Riviera in Cannes, where fortuitously, a famous Frenchman also kept a home; a man who like her deceased husband, had achieved phenomenal success satisfying the new consumer demand created by the industrial revolution. Yes readers, Rene Lalique kept a place in Cannes and was a neighbor of Lady Trent.

In 1932, the year after her husband’s death, Lady Trent asked her neighbor to design new interior fittings in glass for the 1840’s era St. Matthew’s Church of Millbrook located just across the road from her Jersey home which she called Villa Millbrook. It was to be a major architectural undertaking in honor of Baron Trent and Lalique agreed to take the commission. Two years later, in 1934, Lalique’s fabulous undertaking was completed and installed in St. Matthew’s, complemented by additional interior modifications by the Jersey architect A.B. Grayson, an accomplished art deco designer, most notably of private homes.

Lalique glass includes the communion rail, communion table, screens, the altar cross and pillars, a Lalique glass font, window and door panels, and a reredos (altar screen). The art deco Lalique design highlights include angelic figures and Jersey lilies.

St. Matthew's of Millbrook Jersey Rene Lalique Glass Church

Today St. Matthew’s remains a functioning community place of worship. But owing to the amazing work of the great Lalique, it is better known worldwide as “The Glass Church”. So it’s also an Art Deco treasure of Jersey and a tourist attraction in addition to being a religious establishment.

Last year, the 170 year old Church commenced its first major renovation in over 70 years. The total cost is estimated at £1,000,000. We were alerted to the renovation a year ago through a BBC article which detailed the renovation project and linked out to three reference sources: the “States of Jersey” website, the “Glass Church” website, and to the “Rene Lalique Worldwide Gathering Place”! How great is that? The overhaul is planned to include:

Conservation to the Lalique Glass and the supporting structures of the glass.

New roof.
Restoration of the bell housing and bells.
Replace the electrical wiring and update the lighting.
New heating system.
Interior redecoration and new landscaping.

St Matthews Appeal For Donations Brochure Cover With Rene Lalique GlassAn organization named The Friends of the Glass Church has been set-up under the auspices of the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey, Lieutenant General Andrew Ridgway, to raise funds for the renovations. They have already raised approximately £140,000 toward the project. Updating of the roof was finished in 2010. Also the States of Jersey has approved a matching funds grant of £125,000. Phase two, which is the refurbishment of the bell tower, bells, and some asbestos removal, should be completed in early October, at which time the church will re-open.

Details of how you can contribute to the project can be found at the Friends of the Glass Church website or the Church’s website, both of which are linked previously. We urge you to consider generously supporting this uniquely Rene Lalique effort.

We spoke with church officials in preparation for this article and were given the following visitor information:

Visitors are welcome at the Church Monday thru Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. The Church is closed on Saturdays. Regular services are held on Sunday at 11:00 AM and visitors are welcome to attend.

Jersey Island On A MapSt. Matthew’s home, the island of Jersey has a rich history owing to its location between France and England. It has a population of around 100,000, and both French and English are spoken there. Jersey is a separate possession of the crown; it’s a dependency and not part of the United Kingdom. It even has its own currency, though several other currencies also circulate on the island. It’s a crossroads of cultures and activities.

If you plan to visit, almost everything you ever wanted to know about Jersey can be found at their Jersey.com website, including travel, lodging, attraction and activity choices.

And finally, if you’d like to see many examples of architectural elements created by Rene Lalique, check out the Lalique Architectural Glass page in the R. Lalique Catalog here on the website.

Lalique Family: Did Anyone Know Rene Lalique Had a Twin Brother?

June 12th, 2010

Rene LaliqueRene Lalique
New information coming out of France today reveals that Rene Lalique had a twin brother! It’s unbelievable, check it out here in a saved/cached image version of the original listing online***. The news is already rocking the art world as biographers scramble to update their books, college professors rush to update their art history course material, and major museums hurry to add this new information to their displays. The whole story of Art Nouveau to Art Deco is being re-written as art historians descend on the little Village of Ay, the birthplace of the Lalique twins, gathering any scraps of information they can find about this startling news.

It always seemed strange that one Lalique could do so much in just one lifetime. The whole jewelry thing, then the glass, all the exhibitions, etc. etc. Didn’t it seem like he had to be in two places at once? And check out the photos. Notice the differences? Yet still is a very strong family resemblance.

Now that we know there was more than one of these guys, it all makes total sense. Who knew?

If you want to learn more about Rene Lalique and the Lalique family, check out the Lalique Bio at RLalique.com.

***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.

Rene Lalique Glass Panel Doors: Lalique’s Doors at 40 Cours la Reine – A Lalique Architectural Landmark

February 19th, 2010

Lalique House In Paris: The Famous Lalique DoorsRene Lalique moved in 1902 to a new residence and workshop at 40 Cours la Reine in Paris. The building was a renovation totaling five floors. The first two floors were show and retail space for Lalique’s expanding business. There was also Lalique’s workshop and Lalique’s residence above.

It was here, that Lalique installed what might be his first and most important architectural statement; the famous Lalique glass panel doors. The doors consisted of glass panels set in a metal frame.

These doors contain a design of pinecones and branches with each panel being a different part of the picture. The relief glass design of the doors continues from the glass panels onto the exterior of the building. It’s also echoed in the railings that rim the windows of the residence!

Lalique House In Paris: Relief Detail on Wall Above Lalique DoorsLalique died at the age of 85 in this same house 43 years later as World War II was coming to and end.

Over a century later, the doors remain a quiet yet iconic reminder of the creativity, foresight, and design talent of Rene Lalique. And as Nicholas Dawes notes in his standard reference work “Lalique Glass”, this single creative element incorporated into the exterior decor of his own shop and residence, may have been responsible for many future architectural commissions as potential clients came to the shop and experienced the wonder of the great glass panel doors.

Lalique House In Paris: Single Glass Panel Close UpIf you are in Paris though, you may have trouble finding the doors at 40 Cours la Reine. Why? Because the street has been renamed to 40 Cour d’Albert!

But worry not if you cannot find or cannot go!

We have found a good-humored guy from the east coast, Richard Nahem, who now lives in Paris and who loves to take photos. Richard has taken some great detailed pictures of the former Lalique residence including the famous Lalique Glass doors. So we thought it would be great to share this bit of Lalique architectural history with you as shown through those photos

Lalique House In Paris: Pinecone and Branches Balcony RailingAnd don’t forget, you can find links to all resources related to Rene Lalique Architecture at RLalique.com in the Rene Lalique Architecture Section of the Lalique Biography.

By the way, Richard runs a very entertaining and informative blog about life in Paris, aptly named eyepreferparis.com! Of course, if this writer were penning a location touting blog, it would likely be named EyePreferHangingOutAtWorldHeadquarters.com!

World Headquarters DoorAnd lest you be left in wonder, yes, World Headquarters is not without it’s own great glass and metal work door. Notice all the similarities? The great Lalique doors have glass and our door has glass. The great Lalique doors have metal and our door has metal. The Lalique doors open and close and our door opens and closes. Pretty similar right? It’s almost freaky the number of things the World Headquarter door has in common with the Lalique doors. Too bad it can’t hold a candle to* the work of the great Rene Lalique 🙂 Hmmmmm…..

Lalique House In Paris: R. Lalique Carved In Stone*”Can’t hold a candle to” is an expression from the days before electric lights. When a person had to do some work in the dark, it might require a helper to hold a candle to illuminate the work area. Simple job, holding the candle. Of course, if your skill level or attention level or work ethic was so low that you could not properly perform the task of holding the candle it would put you in a negative light (no pun intended on the light thing). Anyway, can’t hold a candle to whatever, became a phrase to denote low talent or low worthiness by comparison to something else.

Lalique House In Paris: Lalique Glass Panels DetailFor example, there is no website in the world about Rene Lalique and his works that can hold a candle to RLalique.com! Don’t know how we thought up this great example, it just popped in our heads!

Rene Lalique Statuette De La Fontaine Ashtray: The 1925 Art Deco Exposition Fountain and Source De La Fontaine Lalique Statues

January 7th, 2010

Lalique Ashtray Statuette De La FontaineRene Lalique created a wonderful fountain for the 1925 Paris Exposition Des Arts Décoratifs, the Art Deco Exposition. And full size Source De La Fontaine Lalique statues of the designs that were incorporated into that fountain sell for many thousands of dollars. In creating his great fountain, Les Sources De France, Rene Lalique was following in the footsteps of the tradition in Paris of the great French fountain builders dating back to the middle ages when fountains were first constructed to provide drinking water to the people of Paris!

Lalique knew he had conceived a great design, not just for the fountain in its entirety, but also in the style and motif of the large glass statues which were the fountain elements. As a result, he also made a miniature statuette model in the style of the fountain statues set in his classic round cendrier with centerpiece. In this case, the centerpiece is the Statuette De La Fontaine.

Lalique Ashtray Statuette De La FontaineToday, this style cendrier in all its forms is commonly called a ring dish by sellers either because they don’t know, or because “ashtray” is not usually the best selling point.

A nice looking example of the Rene Lalique Cendrier Statuette De La Fontaine has appeared at auction, in apparently great condition with a starting price of just $99 and no reserve. The seller states there is no damage.

Here is a link to a saved/cached image version of the original 130357207907 listing online. 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.

This ashtray is listed in the Lalique Auctions Section at RLalique.com.

And you can learn more about Rene Lalique’s contributions to the 1925 Paris Expo and the international acclaim he achieved by his accomplishments there, in the Lalique Books and Library Section! Most of the Lalique biography books available there cover the subject in some detail.

The Statuette De La Fontaine Cendrier: A clean design, a no-reserve auction, and a relatively inexpensive memento of the great Lalique Art Deco Fountain.

Lalique Car Mascots at Le Mans: Musee Automobile De La Sarthe – The Sarthe Auto Museum

January 6th, 2010

Rene Lalique Car Mascots at Le Mans! Who would have thought the sentimental home of European auto racing (and a very sentimental place to the great Texas racer Carroll Shelby) would have a handful of Lalique Mascots on display at the local car museum?

Here is a 5 minute video with a 10 second glimpse at a half dozen hood ornaments designed by Rene Lalique amongst the vintage race (and other) cars.

You can learn more about the Sarthe Auto Museum by checking out the museum website. And the really inquisitive types can learn a lot more about Carroll Shelby at wikipedia! Also, if you are interested in seeing where else in the world the works of Rene Lalique can be found in museums, check out our list of Lalique Museum Collections with links to each museum.

Finally, if you know of any local or other museums that have RLalique items in their collections that are not listed on the Museum page, please let us know and we’ll ad them to the list.

Lalique Art History And Design – The Flora and Fauna of Rene Lalique – A Scholarly Lecture In New York City

December 8th, 2009

Rene Lalique made extensive use of Flora and Fauna in his famous Lalique Jewelry, and in the majority of his Lalique Glass designs. Nicholas Dawes, noted Rene Lalique personality, Antiques Roadshow Appraiser, and author of the seminal 1986 work “Lalique Glass“, is giving a lecture today in New York City analyzing the historical use of Flora and Fauna as art forms by Rene Lalique.

Rene Lalique Flora and Fauna Lecturer Nicholas DawesMr. Dawes is in New York this week in his role as a consignment director for Heritage Auctions where he is overseeing this year’s largest Rene Lalique Auction on Thursday December 10th. We have previously written about this exciting Lalique Auction and have also included details in the Rene Lalique Auctions Worldwide Section here at RLalique.com!

This scholarly and informative lecture will be in Manhattan at 104 East 25th just off Park Avenue on the 3rd Floor at 4:00 PM. Readers of RLalique.com that will be in New York City today are invited to attend. There is no charge, and there will be a cocktail reception following the 1 hour lecture where attendees will also be able to view the many R Lalique items in Thursday’s auction. If you tell Mr Dawes you read about the lecture here at RLalique.com, he’ll buy you a drink at the reception! But even if you don’t tell him you saw it here, cocktails are free 🙂 and you will get a chance to talk to Nick and other Rene Lalique enthusiasts and collectors in attendance.

A wonderful opportunity to learn more about the talent and creativity of the great Rene Lalique.

Rene Lalique Cire Perdue Vase Appears in France: A Unique Lalique Vase

November 15th, 2009

Rene Lalique Cire Perdue Vase Feuilles De Lierre Pointues 1930

What place unites a Rene Lalique Cire Perdue Vase, old British Pounds, LaCoste clothing, Roman roads, medieval measuring, Thomas Jefferson, the French Revolution, and Peter the Great? Huh?

Here is a brief historical review!

Before the decimalization of the British currency in 1971, one British Pound Sterling equaled 20 Shillings composed of 12 Pence each, or a total of 240 Pence to the Pound. OK, you might be thinking, what does this have to do with a Lalique Cire Perdue Vase appearing in France? Well, we have to digress a bit.

British PennyThe historical origin of the old British currency was the fact that the weight of a British Penny was 1/240th of a Troy pound of sterling silver. This measuring system of the weight of a penny, or Pennyweight, which is abbreviated as dwt (the d in dwt stands for the old Roman silver coin Denarius) traces its origin to medieval times, and to this day a Troy Ounce contains 20 dwt. There being 12 Troy Ounces to an old Troy pound, that would make 240 dwt or pennies to the pound. And there you have a bit of the origin of the pre-decimal British currency; Troy pounds and Troy ounces!

Now sadly, the Troy pound has fallen out of use* as a measurement factor, giving way to the globalization (before the term even existed) of currency units to the monetary equivalent of the library book organization system of Melvil Dewey (the Dewey Decimal System) wherein units of 100 are of prime importance. Monetarily, there are no countries left in the world that have not gone “currency decimal” **. If only Peter The Great had known what he was starting in 1710 when he set the value of a Russian Ruble at 100 Kopecks!

But while the Troy Pound has been tossed on the dust heap of history (the Troy Pound was booted in England in 1878), the Troy Ounce survives, mainly used today for measuring the weight of precious metals and gemstones. In the UK for example, the Troy Ounce measuring system is exempt from the wave of metrification that has swept away the old measuring systems on the islands. Apparently dentists and jewelers (and central bank types:) have some political pull in the UK!

Troyes France Street SceneAnd why do we care even a “plugged nickel’s” *** worth about all this currency business? Because the namesake of the Troy measuring system is an old Roman crossroads town and trading center in northeastern France, about 100 miles from Paris, where the Troy measuring system had its earliest known use. The name of this small city which today is comprised of around 60,000 people? Troyes! What a coincidence! And it is there, dear readers, in the hometown of the great French alligator fashion house LaCoste, in Troyes France, that the Rene Lalique Cire Perdue Vase which is the subject of this story, has appeared!

Rene Lalique Cire Perdue Vase Feuilles De Lierre Dentelees 1930One more short step backwards in time: In 1930, Rene Lalique created two similar Lalique Cire Perdue Vases in succession, CP 566 Feuilles De Lierre Dentelees, and CP 567, Feuilles De Lierre Pointues. Both these cire perdue vases were exhibited in October 1931 at Galarie Rouard in Paris. CP 566 appeared almost exactly 6 years ago, on November 24th, 2003 at the Tajan auction house in Paris. It was listed by Tajan as being 18 cm tall and it’s pictured here. It sold as Lot 3 in their sale for €73,403 all-in, several times the estimate of €20,000-€25,000. Note that in November 2003, €73,000 was around $100,000. It’s also rumored authoritatively that the runner-up bid on CP 566 was placed from a phone in the desert, just a few miles from RLalique.com World Headquarters!

CP 567, the pointed leafed mate of the softer designed CP 566 is the lalique cire perdue vase that is being offered in Troyes on November 22nd!

A bit worse for the wear, CP 567, shown in the large photo at the beginning of this article, has had a few hard knocks in life. It’s missing some pieces, including a large chunk of glass out of the top rim, and the ends of some leaves. And there are other miscellaneous condition issues. The vase is 17.2 cm tall, with comparable width, which gives it a decent scope as far as Lalique’s Cire Perdue is concerned. The estimate on this vase is only €2,000-€2,500 a mere 1/10 the estimate of it’s mate. The estimate seems a tad on the low side, even considering the extensive condition issues. But of course, if you are considering bidding, as always, you should investigate all relevant matters directly.

Might be a great opportunity to acquire a good sized piece of usually very expensive Cire Perdue glass for any collector wanting to at least have an example of Cire Perdue in their collection.

The seller of the vase is the auction house Boisseau & Pomez. Their phone number in Troyes is +33.03.25.73.34.07

Of course, this Lalique Cire Perdue Vase is listed in our Lalique at Auction section here at RLalique.com. And you can see other examples of Rene Lalique Cire Perdue by visiting our biography of Lalique, or by clicking on the Cire Perdue tag at the end of this article to see other articles relating to the Cire Perdue works of Rene Lalique.

* France was the third large country in the world to dump the Troy measuring system! After the 1710 Russian currency changes, it would be over 80 years until another large country followed suit when the Americans established their currency on a decimal basis in 1792 (the Thomas Jefferson thing). Three years later, in the turmoil of the French Revolution, France revamped its own currency to decimal format in 1795. It would be roughly another 80 years before the British in 1878, dumped what was in reality, a traditional French measuring system that had already been abandoned by the French!

** We’re ignoring the handful of countries that have increments of 1000 and not 100 (decimal on steroids?), and also the possible couple of countries with just one currency unit that is not divided by anything!

*** The expression “plugged nickel” originates in the American West in the late 1800’s (the Wild West era). It refers to the practice of extracting metal from coins by punching out a hole and then filling or plugging the hole with some worthless material so the coin could still be used (this from the days of course when coins actually contained valuable metals :). So a plugged nickel, being only a nickel to begin with, and not being even legal tender once defaced, would be worthless. The expression lives on to this day to denote something that has no value or is not worth anything. It’s the best we could do to work a monetary expression into to this story!

Rene Lalique Architecture: The Imperial Family of Asaka, Rene Lalique Glass, and The Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum

August 16th, 2009

Rene Lalique Architectural Door Panels In the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum: How did they get there?

Tokyo Teien Museum with Rene Lalique Glass

The short version is, they were shipped by boat:), but as usual the whole story is a bit more complicated! We’ll try and keep it brief as usual.

In 1852, Meiji the Great, destined to be the 122nd Emperor of Japan was born with the name Mutsuhito. His birth was less than a year before Admiral Perry would arrive on the scene. In 1867 at the age of 14, he became Emperor of Japan. He had no children with his wife, but had 15 kids with 5 different official consorts. Only five of his children survived childhood. The one of the five we are interested in is Princess Nobuko, the eighth daughter of the Emperor. In 1910 she married the royal Prince Yasuhiko, also an eighth child, who four years earlier had established the Imperial Family of Asaka!

Prince AsakaIn the early 1920’s, the Prince headed off to Paris for military studies. There he was seriously injured in a car accident in 1923. His wife came to Paris to help nurse him back to health, and they both were still in Paris in 1925 when the 1925 Exposition Internationale Des Arts Decoratifs took the world by storm. Apparently, it took the Asaka family by storm as well, and the new art deco style, decoratif art in everyday life, caught their fancy.

In 1929, they began work on an Art Deco residence in Tokyo that was completed in 1933. While the Ministry of Imperial Household oversaw the design and construction, the input of several of the great French decorative arts practitioners, notably Rene Lalique, and to a larger degree Henri Rapin (to whom the Prince entrusted the interior design of 7 of the rooms), made the house a model of modernist art deco restraint and style. The architectural contributions of Rene Lalique included the glass panel doors, and the chandeliers in the dining hall and grand guest room.

Rene Lalique Glass Door at Tokyo Teien MuseumFast forward through a war, the Asaka Family in 1947 lost it’s membership in the Imperial Household, the residence was taken over by the government and put to various government uses, and finally, it was turned over to the Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation For History and Culture, which opened the doors of the Asaka residence as the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in 1983. The Asaka residence had wonderful grounds surrounding it, hence the addition of the word “Teien”, meaning park or gardens, to the name of the museum.

And that is why the great doors and chandeliers of Rene Lalique still exist in their original home today, along with other decorative R Lalique objects, all preserved in the museum.

Over the years, the museum has held many exhibitions, including a great Rene Lalique exhibition in 1988 that is documented extensively in the catalogue book of the exhibition containing about 200 very high quality R Lalique photos. A copy of this rare catalogue book from the exhibition at the former Asaka residence is available in the Rene Lalique Books and Library Section.

What happened to Prince Asaka, the creator of the great art deco residence? He served in the military during World War II (not without some controversy), making the rank of General. After the war he moved to the small city of Atami south of Tokyo where he became an avid golfer. He lived to the age of 93, passing away in 1981!

And why are we telling you all this now? Well, it’s great R Lalique history, and more importantly, we stumbled across a peaceful video of the museum, which takes you thru a personal video tour, including looks at some of the works of Rene Lalique which are installed and housed at the former Asaka residence. A relaxing look at the works of the great Rene Lalique at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum.

Rene Lalique Car Mascots: Lalique Hood Ornaments in Hickory Corners at the Gilmore Car Museum

July 14th, 2009

Lalique Hood Ornaments -Lalique Car Mascots in Hickory Corners: How did that happen?

Rene Lalique Car Mascot ArcherIn July 1966, the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners Michigan opened to the public. It was the love affair of Michiganders (that’s right, they’re called Michiganders*) Don Gilmore and his wife Genevieve. Where is Hickory Corners you might ask? Well, it’s kind of midway between the Michigan Cities of Battle Creek (think cereal – cold breakfast cereal was invented here by Dr. John Harvey Kellog and it is still the headquarters of the company founded by his brother that bears his name, and Post Cereals is headquartered there as well), Lansing (Michigan State University and the childhood and football home of President Gerald Ford, who played on two Michigan State National Championship Football teams, before the big war of course), Grand Rapids (Autos and Furniture: Austin Automobile Company started there in 1901 and lasted near 20 years), and Kalamazoo (Gibson Guitars was founded here, as was the pharmaceutical giant Upjohn, and it’s still home to Checker Motors Company, who used to make the Checker Cab!).

Map to Gilmore Car MuseumBasically the former heartland of the industrial Midwest during the salad days of U.S. manufacturing! A lot of money was made here and stayed here in the form of public projects by wealthy people and companies. The Gilmores established a foundation that owns the museum and carries on, despite the passing of both Gilmores several decades ago.

Gilmore Car Museum DinerSo, what does the Gilmore Car Museum have? Where to begin, hmmm. Let’s start with the Blue Moon Diner, a real 1941 diner, picked up in toto from Meridian Connecticut, and moved here to the Michigan countryside! And yes, they serve pecan pie and frozen custard. Over 200 autos, from a 1948 “Waltz Blue” Tucker (number 47 out of a total production of only 51), to a Dusenberg! There’s a re-created 1930’s Shell gas station (including memorabilia from a Shell station just 3 miles from the Gilmore that closed during WWII), a small town train station, nine antique Michigan barns, and three miles of paved roads, as well as a huge collection of vintage pedal cars and miniatures. You may see their authentic London Double Decker bus tooling around the property when you visit, and it’s rumored (though not advertised) that a ride in a cool old vehicle might be had from time to time!

Gilmore Car Museum Gas StationThe museum is important in many other respects. For example, The Pierce-Arrow Society (the Roadshow video linked below features a Pierce-Arrow with the Rene Lalique Car Mascot Archers) established its museum at The Gilmore. As a result there are a wide array of Pierce-Arrows on display, one of the coolest of which is a 1912 motorcycle. Note that the entire museum grew out of a gift from Mrs. to Mr. Gilmore of a Pierce-Arrow project car needing renovation. Also, the Tucker Historical Collection and Library, a project of the Tucker Automobile Club of America (the “Car of the Future”) is at the Gilmore. Heck, they even have a Chrysler Turbine Car!

Why do we R.Lalique types care about all this? Well, because they also have one of the largest hood ornament/car mascot/auto badge collections in the United States. It contains over 1600 items, some of which are Rene Lalique Car Mascots!

And why are we writing about this now? Well, because in August 2008, the U.S. Antiques Roadshow was in Grand Rapids and made a little trip down memory lane to Hickory Corners for a short Video Special at the Gilmore. In the video, Eric Silver (formerly of the auction house Doyle New York, and now with Lillian Nassau LLC) and Antiques Roadshow Host Mark Walberg spent a few minutes talking car mascots, including a little Rene Lalique Car Mascot talk, with some good video to go along with the chitchat.

So check out the Museum Website, where you’ll find a ton of great info and cool photos in addition to the ones here. And if you’re ever in Kalamazoo, take a pleasant half-day, put the top down and head over to Hickory Corners, where you’ll cruise into American Automobile and Rene Lalique History!

* The demonym (that’s a word used to describe local people which uses some local stuff in the word) Michigander is credited to Abraham Lincoln! Yes, The Abraham Lincoln! On July 27, 1848, Lincoln was making a speech in the U.S. Congress as a member of the Whig Party and a representative from Illinois, when he made of fun of Lewis Cass, the Governor of the Michigan Territory, by calling him “The Great Michigander!” If Lincoln only knew how well it would stick! What the heck, he carried Michigan in both his Presidential elections.

Lalique Designer de Luxe! Rene Lalique’s Death: Report and Obituary in Time Magazine’s May 21, 1945 Issue

June 22nd, 2009

Rene Lalique Obituary in Time MagazineRene Lalique died quietly in the home of his famous glass panel doors, at 40 Cours la Reine in Paris on May 5th, 1945* just 3 days before Victory in Europe (VE) Day, marking the Atlantic end of WW II.

Lalique had spent his last several years cut off from the world, his painful rheumatism deforming his hands, and preventing him even from drawing; as recounted in a letter from Suzanne Lalique-Haviland dated June 6th, 1945 to Calouste Gulbenkian. It was just days before he died, that Rene Lalique found out that his Wingen-sur-Moder factory was liberated by the Allies, that it had been saved, and that his valued molds were intact!

At the time of Lalique’s death, major news was coming into the United States not just from Europe, but also from the Pacific and elsewhere, as American manufacturing, technological, and military might, along with the Allied powers, was bringing the worldwide chaos to an end.

In the onslaught of news and events pouring in from all over the world, Time Magazine took note of the passing of perhaps the greatest artist of the 20th Century; and certainly the greatest industrial art designer and manufacturer the world had ever seen.

An amazingly prolific man, Lalique’s talents created or shaped decorative arts from glass tableware, to perfume bottles, car mascots and much more. Yet he was a man who’s greatest achievements in artistic design may have actually been in an earlier career in another century; as Emile Galle so subtly noted, when Lalique became the “inventor of modern jewelry”.

Rene Lalique GravesiteRene Lalique rode the industrial revolution and the new consumerism to the top in many fields. He saw opportunity in many areas of the industrial revolution. And he worked out the manufacturing techniques to make his useful consumer art achievable and affordable in a way and on a scale that no artist before him had ever accomplished. He was the right man in the right place at the right moment in time.

Read Designer de Luxe, Time Magazine’s nearly full page Rene Lalique obituary in its May 21st, 1945 Issue, as the world took note amidst the carnage, of the death of the great Rene Lalique.

An original Time Magazine May 21st, 1945 Issue is available along with countless other period publications related to Lalique and his R Lalique works, in our Rene Lalique Books Section, here at RLalique.com.

And for more information on the life and times of Rene Lalique, check out our Lalique biography.

*Lalique’s date of death was reported by the New York Times on May 10, 1945, as being on May 9, 1945. Other authoritative sources, including the R.Lalique Catalogue Raisonne, place the date of his death as May 5, 1945.

Lalique and Haviland Come Full Circle in London Flagship Lalique Crystal Store

April 14th, 2009

Cristal Lalique and Haviland Storefront in LondonLalique and Haviland Join Forces and Open A Joint Flagship Store in London: A renewal of old ties between the family name of Rene Lalique and the family name of David Haviland was cemented in London recently, with the opening of the new Lalique Haviland joint flagship store on Conduit Street. This store name recalls ties between these two great families that go back to 1916.

Here is a brief history: Haviland was started in 1842 by David Haviland. He was a member of a New York family that imported and sold china. In the early 1840’s he traveled to Limoges France where he founded the great Haviland manufacture. His two sons, Charles and Theodore were active in the business, Theodore in New York dealing with marketing matters, and Charles, the oldest of the two sons in France at the factory in Limoges. After David Haviland died in 1879, Theodore moved to Limoges to participate more directly in the management of company affairs. For whatever reasons, by 1891 the two brothers had irreconcilable differences and joint control of the Haviland Company was dissolved, with each brother going it his own way. Charles operated under the old family company name of Haviland et Cie, and Theodore under the name Theodore Haviland Limoges. The two brothers competed not just with other companies, but against each other. The last decade of the 19th century also saw the rise of the great Rene Lalique, who’s reputation as a jeweler and designer in Paris had spread worldwide. Lalique’s primary focus in the last decade of the 1800’s was jewelry and unique objects. It was the famous glassmaker Emile Galle who recognized Rene Lalique as the “the inventor of modern jewelry”.

Suzanne Lalique PortraitIn 1892, Lalique had a daughter by his second wife, whom they named Suzanne. Suzanne became an accomplished designer and painter in her own right, without any formal art training. Growing up as close to the great Lalique as one can get, was all the training required. Her vase designs cover two pages in the R Lalique Catalogue Raisonne, and her paintings and decorative arts are now spread around the world. At least two Rene Lalique production vases were designed by Suzanne Lalique; the vases Sophora and Penthievre. She also created great porcelain designs for Haviland during the last half of the 1920’s and into the early 1930’s, and she is credited with having painted in 1931 the only recorded portrait of Rene Lalique created late in his life. And of esoteric interest to both historians and stemware collectors, is the SH monogram which graces the stemware set Monogramme in the Catalogue Raisonne. These are the stems that start at #5042 on Page 831 of the 2004 edition. These stems were sold in minimum orders of 100 pieces. But for the big order, Lalique et Cie would put your own monogram on each stem. That’s probably how they figured out the name for this design! Apparently, Suzanne Haviland was an early customer :).

Paul Haviland by RenoirAs things would have it, in 1916 Suzanne met the photographer Paul Haviland, the son of Charles Haviland, when Paul was slightly older than shown here in an 1884 portrait at age 4 by noted painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Paul was an accomplished photographer, and among his other claims to fame, he would be given photo credit for the pictures in the 1932 R.Lalique Catalogue, a fact omitted from the 1981 Dover reprint! Paul was born in Paris, but graduated from Harvard and spent much of his early life in the United States. Having been called back to France to help with the management of the company in 1916, that same year he met and by 1917 would marry Suzanne Lalique. Long story short, Charles died in 1921. Theodore died two years earlier in 1919. The Haviland et Cie family businesses of Charles had lots of problems and became a full employment company for lawyers! Haviland et Cie eventually slipped out of family ownership and was liquidated in 1931, but the Theodore branch of the family continued on with their company under the leadership of Theodore’s oldest son William, who had joined the company in 1903 and who took control upon the death of his father. The Haviland name and company was restored to unity and total family ownership in 1941 under William Haviland, when he and other relatives purchased all the names, designs, and rights of the previously liquidated Haviland et Cie. One interesting point is that from 1942 to 1957, Haviland was produced in Pennsylvania, production having been started up there by William in the chaos that was World War II.

Fast forwarding a bit, control of Haviland would find it’s way to the current owners Financiere Saint-Germain (FSG). Here is a link to an informative Haviland website. Why do we care about all this? Well, that’s the start of another (much shorter) story.

Silvio DenzrIn February of 2008, the Lalique Cristal Company was acquired by the Swiss company Art & Fragrance (ARTN). The price was €44,000,000 Euros, which today would be about $58,500,000 US. This was somewhat of a marriage of equals, as Lalique’s sales of around €67,000,000 Euros for 2007 were higher than the sales of it’s acquirer. Art & Fragrance is headquartered near Zurich, and it’s shares are listed on the BX Berne eXchange under the symboi ARTN. It appears that the vast majority of ARTN shares are controlled by Silvio Denz, the Chairman of ARTN, who is shown here in a photo from the company website. Mr. Denz is also one of the driving forces behind the new Lalique Museum, the Musee Lalique in France which we recently wrote about. In September of 2008, Art & Fragrance sold just under 1/2 of Lalique to FSG, which as we mentioned, is the owner of among other things, Haviland, at a price of 20.5 million Euros. This is how we have reached the point of the accompanying photo of the new London Flagship Store. This writer thinks Paul and Suzanne Haviland would be smiling if they could see it! And now you know……… ( think Paul Harvey). 🙂

A final note: Paul Haviland died in 1950, and Suzanne Lalique Haviland, having lived to the age of 97, died in 1989. For more information on Rene Lalique and his family, see our Rene Lalique Biography.

Lalique Poignant Moment: An Elderly White Mustached Rene Lalique Rushes To Wingen To Save What He Can As War Spreads

March 29th, 2009

Rene Lalique With White MustacheRene Lalique Arrives To Find Soldiers At The Gates Of His Wingen Lalique Glass Factory: It’s September 1939. The Germans are on the march, having invaded Poland on September 1st, and war is thought iikely to spread throughout Europe. Near the Maginot Line in eastern France, towns are evacuated as France prepares for the invasion everyone knows is coming. A 79 year old white mustached Rene Lalique rushes from Paris to Wingen to try to save countless objects, molds, and materials before it all disappears in the sweep and chaos of war. Read about it at the Time Magazine website from Time Magazine’s October 30, 1939 issue. The original Time Magazine Issue of October 30, 1939, and lots of other great Rene Lalique related historical items, are available for purchase in the Lalique Library Section on Period Magazines, Auction and Exhibition Catalogues which contain R Lalique information, here at RLalique.com

And for additional information on the life of the great Rene Lalique, check out the comprehensive Lalique biography, here at RLalique.com.

Rene Lalique Exhibition Video: L’Exposition Lalique At The Musee du Luxembourg In Paris with Yvonne Brunhammer

March 21st, 2009

Rene Lalique Museum Exhibition Video Tour: Here is a great Rene Lalique Exhibition Video Tour in French, of the works of the great Rene Lalique from Luxe TV. The video documents the fabulous L’Exposition Lalique held in 2007 in Paris at the Musee du Luxembourg and in Berlin at the Brohan Museum in late 2007 and early 2008. The Lalique Exhibition, titled Rene Lalique Exceptional Jewellery 1890-1912 contained not just great and unique Lalique jewelry, but also some unique and other early glass works and objects including a couple amazing unique Rene Lalique Vases. The total number of Rene Lalique objects in the Exhbition was over 300. The video features Olivier Mauny, who at the time was the President Director General of The Lalique Crystal Company, and Yvonne Brunhammer, author and editor of several books and catalogs on the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods including several on Rene Lalique. She is the editor of the Official Exhibition Catalogue Book: Rene Lalique Exceptional Jewellery 1890-1912, which is a profusely illustrated oversized reference book concerning the Lalique Exhibition, as well as a substantial commentary and history about Rene Lalique and his works. There are several versions of this book with different amounts of content. The largest and the complete version (in English) which is 286 pages, is available in the Lalique Library here at RLalique.com in the section on Rene Lalique Museum and Exhibition Books. You can find out a lot more about Rene Lalique and his works in the Rene Lalique Biography Section here at RLalique.com.

Rene Lalique: Inventor of the Satellite Dish

March 13th, 2009

Rene Lalique Satellite Dish DesignIt was announced today that the great Frenchman Rene Lalique has been found by researchers to be the actual inventor of the Satellite Dish! Exhaustive research has uncovered the fact that Arthur C. Clarke, who until today was generally credited with being the inventor of the Satellite Dish, received the photographed object as a gift from Rene Lalique, and that the ideas for his seminal article titled “Extra-terrestrial Relays”, which appeared in the October 1945 edition of the British magazine Wireless World, were all inspired by the design and ideas embodied in this Rene Lalique object. Scientific researchers and the entire scientific community today stand in awe of the great Rene Lalique, who until this discovery, was thought to be only the inventor of modern jewelry, the man responsible for the modern perfume bottle industry, the greatest glassmaker in the history of the world, a world class creator of art objects, and an inventor of industrial techniques of historical proportions. Jaws are dropping from Cambridge Massachussets to Cambridge England as the true genius of the great Lalique has been revealed. Amazingly, Rene Lalique had such forsight, that he invented the Satellite Dish before there were even satellites! This historically important design by Lalique for the Satellite Dish is going up for auction on March 18th at Burstow & Hewett Auctions in Battle Abbey England. Listing information can be found in our Worldwide R Lalique at Auction Section. The auction house, which expects this amazing object to reach at least 5,000,000 British Pounds, has announced that all proceeds from the sale will go toward developing the UK equivelent of the SETI project in the United States. Until now, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence has been met with some scheptisim by many scientisits. But now that it’s known that the Great Lalique invented this dish before there were satellites, all major members of the scientific community agree that the only thing he could have in mind was to listen not for cable TV signals or GPS coordinates, but for E.T.! And based on the unmatched genius of Rene Lalique, the scientific community feels that if Lalique thought E.T. was out there, then E.T. must in fact exist. A worldwide effort is now underway to build additional SETI sites on half a dozen continents. Meanwhile, all biographers of Lalique are scrambling to re-write their books to incorporate these new findings, and both art and scientific scholars are pouring over the thousands of known Rene Lalique drawings, looking for further evidence of his scientific genius. And in a related matter, the Royal Academy has launched an investigation into Arthur C. Clarke’s failure to credit Rene Lalique with the basic ideas for the article which Clarke published in 1945. This investigation may result in the stripping of all previous honors given to Clarke by the Academy. Additional updates will be provided as news breaks.

For additional information on the life and works of the great Rene Lalique, check out the detailed Rene Lalique biography, here at RLalique.com.

 
 

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