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Rene Lalique Senlis Vases – Rene Lalique Cluny Vases: R. Lalique Collector Alert

The appearance of the heavily damaged, cracked and stapled dark glass R. Lalique Senlis Vase at Skinner’s Auction House in Boston on December 15th provides a good opportunity to bring to your attention the potential for trickery in the sale of Cluny and Senlis Vases, two great R. Lalique models.

Rene Lalique Senlis Vase That Has Been Cracked And StapledBoth the Senlis and Cluny Vase models are based on an undecorated glass body with two bronze mounts. The Senlis bronze has a leaf decor, the Cluny a more intricate masque and serpents motif. The bronze mounts are held in place thru an attachment on the inside of the vase which secures a protrusion emanating from the bronze that goes thru a drilled hole from the outside to the inside of the vase. The location of the hole is behind the masque on the Cluny and behind the largest part of the leaf on the Senlis.

The drilled hole has caused some issues over time as the different expansion rates of the glass and the bronze during temperature changes as well as the contact of the attachment and the glass at the point of the drilled hole has resulted in many examples with spider or more severe cracks. In addition there are vases of both models that have just been damaged over time from any kind of impact from dropping, bumping, hitting a shelf, etc. And there are plenty of other ways to crack a glass vase; even something as simple as leaving it in a spot where it is heated up rapidly by strong sunlight can do the trick in many instances. And in the case of these two models, grabbing it hard enough by one of the mounts could also cause damage.

Rene Lalique Senlis Vase Showing Bronze Mount Detail And Stapled Crack In GlassThe problem that has been created is that the undecorated glass body of the vase can be duplicated! Yes, it is not all that difficult to make a credible copy of the plain glass body, drill holes in it, and attach a set of handles removed from a damaged Cluny or Senlis. Especially with the current pricing in the market of these vases (a Cluny recently made near $200,000 at auction), the cost of creating a new glass body is nothing compared to the value of an undamaged example.

So just checking the math here, an extensively cracked and stapled Senlis Vase sells for $3000 plus commissions. A perfect Senlis Vase is worth for arguments sake $150,000 – $200,000. So you have a bit of room, say roughly $145,000 to $195,000 of room in this example to create a new body! Heck, super models don’t even spend that much to transform their bodies. And note that we do not know the identity of the buyer of the cracked and stapled Skinner’s Senlis Vase. We are just using its appearance to help increase the awareness of our readers. For all we know the buyer may be a collector that was happy to get the stapled version for 98% less than the cost of one that’s in good order. Or someone may have wanted the bronze mounts to use as custom door pulls on a set of doors (not a bad idea). Heck, some Art History PHD candidate doing a thesis on the history of glass repair could have bought it. You get the point.

However, this writer was reliably informed that at least one R. Lalique dealer has in fact commissioned the making of a new glass body to replace a damaged Senlis/Cluny glass body and thus created an undamaged example from a nearly worthless one.

Rene Lalique Cluny Vase That Sold For Almost $200,000So, is there anything wrong with “fixing”, some would say “saving” a damaged vase in this fashion? Of course not, so long as you make mention of it when you sell it!

This brings us back to our often sung refrain: When doing business with a dealer, make certain that the dealer is honest and knowledgeable. Not just honest, and not just knowledgeable, but both honest and knowledgeable.

How can you know? Well, you can ask other collectors that have been collecting for a long time. You can search the internet for information by typing into a search engine the name of the dealer along with other phrases such as lalique, or a city or company name etc. You can ask the dealer for references from collectors that the dealer has a longstanding relationship with. And you can get independent advice concerning your purchases.

Rene Lalique Senlis Vase Showing Stapled Crack In Glass

To summarize, the point about the Cluny and Senlis Vases and the dealers you choose to do business with is simply to be smart and be careful. Arm yourself with the most knowledge you can. And be as wise in spending your money as you are in making it. Amen.

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