Appraisal Video: (4:15)
Asian Arts, Glass, Pottery & Porcelain, Silver
Senior Appraiser-Fine & Decorative Arts
GUEST: This lamp is one that my husband and I purchased from a fellow that we had been buying a lot of stained glass from in Columbus, Mississippi. He used to go up into the Midwest and the Northeast and scour around for special things. And he liked us. We were a very young couple, young parents, and he called us when he got this and said, "Come and see this. I have something that you will really enjoy seeing."
GUEST: And I fell in love with it.
APPRAISER: And when did you buy it?
GUEST: Late '70s, mid- to late.
APPRAISER: And do you remember what you paid for it at that time?
GUEST: $4,000, which was a pile of money for us as... My goodness, yes.
APPRAISER: And what were you told about this lamp?
GUEST: We were told at the time and he had pointed out to us where it was signed by Tiffany. And because we trusted him and loved him dearly, we believed him and thought, "Okay, this is worth what he's asking." He said that there was a top piece here that had somehow disappeared during the time, but that this was the original base, and then we took it home and we've enjoyed it.
APPRAISER: Let's just take the shade off. Now, you had said that there was a Tiffany mark on the inside of the shade.
GUEST: Yeah. He had marked it with a piece of tape.
GUEST: And I got tired of looking at the tape.
GUEST: So I took it off.
APPRAISER: All right, well, you and I inspected this quite carefully, and I was unable to find any kind of Tiffany mark on this one. So some of the issues with the shade are that there had been apparently an old repair here, and someone had put maybe a new ring here, and then we have, underneath, a Tiffany mark here.
GUEST: We never noticed that.
APPRAISER: Okay, you never noticed that.
GUEST: Never noticed that.
APPRAISER: You were just told it was a Tiffany lamp.
GUEST: Well, we saw the signature on the lamp... On the shade, okay.
APPRAISER: On the shade.
GUEST: And took it as that.
APPRAISER: Okay. I have some bad news for you. This is not a Tiffany lamp.
APPRAISER: Can we just kind of walk through some of the examples here?
APPRAISER: All right, so, on the base, you have this all repainted here and sort of fudged around a little bit. It would not be typical of anything that Tiffany would do. This is not a known, authorized or authentic Tiffany mark. And the quality of this base, while good, is not the exceptional quality that a Tiffany lamp would be. It may even be an amalgam of various parts. The switch may be new-ish, and then this bracket here may be new as well.
GUEST: And in fact this was repaired by the fellow who...
APPRAISER: Oh, it was repaired. So he told you that at the time.
APPRAISER: Okay. In a shade, even though that can be faked as well, you would expect a noticeable Tiffany Studios tag on there. You wouldn't have to search for it. And, although this is a very nice quality shade, it does not have the extremely high level quality of the leading that a Tiffany shade would have, and also the glass is perhaps like one of the better, but second-tier, lamp makers. So I would imagine that someone at one point or another had this nice shade and this nice base and merged them.
APPRAISER: Now, there may have been a break here that necessitated that repair, but this is somewhat sloppy, and they may have had to put a ring in that would match this bracket. So we have something that you paid an awful lot of money for in the '70s. And it's not worth that much now. Not everything that's marked Tiffany is Tiffany. And of course a lot of people here say, "I never look at the signature. I look at the quality of the work." That being said, you've had decades of wonderful stories with this lamp.
GUEST: Absolutely, yes.
APPRAISER: And it's been a gorgeous thing in your life.
GUEST: And that was why we brought it-- just find out whether it really was or not.
APPRAISER: Now, I think if you put this in an auction right now, in the condition it is, you're probably $300 to $500, or maybe even $400 to $600. So it's a wonderful, interesting tale of mistaken identity. Let's say that.
GUEST: Okay, yeah.
APPRAISER: And the person that sold it to you may very well have not known.
GUEST: Well, we knew when we did it that there was a risk, and, like you say, we've enjoyed it.
GUEST: And I don't feel near as bad now about putting it out and using it.