Monday, September 8, 2008

Spotting The Rare

This Tiffany Ceramic Vase sold in 2003 for $11,000 through Burchard Galleries, Inc.

As you advance through the 31 Steps of our club program, your hunt for valuable antiques and art will take you into the higher end of the market. Having said this, it’s important to be knowledgeable about what items from a particular company are rare.

Many companies produced items aside from their main lines that are often overlooked. Very simply put, people, including dealers, are not aware of these anomalies. At the 31 Club, we are on the hunt for pieces that may not be easily recognized to help us move through the 31 Steps and attain our financial goals.

There is little doubt you are familiar with Tiffany and Galle glass, but did you know these companies also produced pottery? These are not common, and their value is also uncommon. If a nice piece of Galle or Tiffany glass becomes available, most people will know what it is. The same can't be said of their pottery. When you become familiar with their pottery marks, you’ll be a step ahead of the pack.

Just to give you a taste of this, Kovels Price Guide lists two items for Galle pottery, both figures. One is priced at $2415 and the other $5175. Tiffany listings include sixteen pieces ranging from $200 to a high of $8,800.

Several years back, when I was previewing items at an auction, my eyes fixed upon an unassuming piece of pottery. When I examined it, lo and behold – there was the Tiffany mark, LCT, all hooked together. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. As I hovered near the piece, I overheard a couple of dealers discussing the vase. “Can you believe they would let fakes like that in this sale,” one said. “Anyone would know the piece isn’t Tiffany.”

I had to turn away to keep from asking them whether or not they’d ever seen Tiffany Pottery before.

When the auction commenced and the vase was offered, the auctioneer announced they didn’t guarantee the piece to be authentic. (I’m sure he’d heard a complaint from those two dealers about fakes.) . At first there was no interest in the piece, but finally they got a $100 bid. I made sure I sat on my hands in this early stage, but I can state with no hesitation, I was extremely anxious. When the bidding slowed at $150 I put my card up at $200, and that bid was followed by one at $225. I bid $250, and finally the auctioneer said, “SOLD.”

I couldn't believe I had just purchased a real piece of Tiffany pottery for $250. You see, most people have never seen one of Louis Comfort Tiffany's pottery pieces. This vase sold a few months later just over $5700. Not bad for a “fake.” You may be fortunate enough to find some of their “fakes” also, ha ha.

What sweet little treasures these pieces can become when others think you are a fool for bidding on them or buying these pieces at house sales.

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