Published: Monday, 18 Oct 2010 | 1:34 PM ET
Its become a phrase. Any leaded lamp is called a Tiffany lamp, adds auctioneer John Fontaine, of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery, who has been in the business for 42 years.
Fontaine gets about 50 calls a week to verify if a lamp is a real Tiffany. Most are not the real thing.
What they’re hoping they have a genuine Tiffany lamp could be worth a small fortune. The originals, those made in the 1890s to 1930s by Tiffany Studios under the watchful eye of Louis Comfort Tiffany, can be worth anywhere from $4,000 to over $1 million. The most ever paid for an original was $2.8 million.
Floral lamps command the most money, says Jeni Sandberg a specialist in 20th century decorative arts. Intense colors are what people favor. Geometric lamps are generally worth less than the floral lamps.
Imitations are common. Several companies mimicked the Tiffany lamp style in the 1920s with cheaper, lesser quality models. In the past 30 to 40 years, forgeries have hit the market that can fool collectors and experts alike.
So what to do if you think you have a Tiffany lamp in your possession? Ultimately, you’ll need to bring it to an expert who has years of experience dealing with them.
Because Tiffany produced a lot of custom-made lamps, there aren’t many hard rules. Its more of a combination of factors when it comes to authentication. But if you’re staring at a lamp in your home or at an estate sale or antique shop, look for these characteristics to help determine if it is an original.