René Lalique “Bacchantes” Amber Vase, ca. 1932

Value (2008) | $12,000 Auction$18,000 Auction

GUEST:
I understand that my parents received it as a wedding present in 1932.

APPRAISER:
And where did they live?

GUEST:
They lived, at that time, in New York.

APPRAISER:
Well, you certainly could have bought this in New York in 1932, because it's one of the best-known products of the Lalique Company, and it's been in continuous production since around 1928. When they started making it, they did offer it in different versions. You could buy it in the conventional clear and frosted finish, this kind of familiar, satiny finish of Lalique. You could buy it in this color, which was a bit unusual. And this is typical of the 1930s, this pale amber color. You could buy it, too, in a kind of dark gray color, and you could buy it in a deep, milky, blue-y opalescent glass. And they were all popular at the time, with the clear one being the most popular. It's called a bacchante vase, and the bacchante are these beautiful, exotic female nudes that are the followers... the supporters of the god Dionysus, the god of wine. They're sculpted in very high relief, and it creates incredible depth and strength of detail. Even if you look through the design from the inside out, you can see that sort of chiseled detail to great effect.

GUEST:
In fact, my mother, when she had it, used to put a small candle in it, and with the flickering candle, made it look like the women were dancing.

APPRAISER:
I've seen that done. Not advisable, I would say. If the heat gets too close to it, a vase like this could crack. You might see another one of these today that's new. As I say, they still make them. And, in fact, the Lalique Company began making it in this color, or very similar color to this, just recently to celebrate the 80th anniversary of production of this vase. But I'd like to tell you why you can tell this is an old one and not a newer one. First of all, if we turned it upside down, you'd see a nice signature of R. Lalique on the bottom, which stands for René Lalique. And they stopped putting that signature on when René Lalique died in 1945. But signatures can be faked. What you can't fake is the two other features that tell you that this is an old one and not a later model. First of all, the weight of it. If you pick it up, it's heavy, but it's not as heavy as a newer one.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
If you found one made today or made in most of the post-war time, it's much heavier because the glass has more lead in it. And also, if you look at the detail that we talked about earlier, they're so well-chiseled and so finely modeled, whereas a modern one doesn't have that detail. I'm going to show one feature that does affect the value. There's a little flaw here. You can see it picking up the light quite clearly. And you might think that's a chip, and it actually isn't a chip.

GUEST:
Oh, really? I thought it was. It's always been there.

APPRAISER:
It's a little bubble. If you look carefully throughout this body, you'll see little bubbles in the glass. And sometimes they appear right at the surface. And when this was new, it may not have been that evident. It may have burst a little bit and just got a little more obvious. It would be nicer if it wasn't there in terms of the value. It's the only thing wrong with it. If this came to auction today, I would see it estimated somewhere between $12,000 and $18,000. And that's quite a broad range...

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
but that reflects the level of up-and-down interest that Lalique has. And it could potentially bring more. I think if it didn't have that, the estimate would be a little over $20,000.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Yeah, maybe between $18,000 and $24,000 would be more realistic. So that does make quite a significant difference. The opalescent ones, the milky ones, are actually worth quite a bit more than this.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Heritage Auctions
Dallas, TX
Appraised value (2008)
$12,000 Auction$18,000 Auction
Event
Palm Springs, CA (June 07, 2008)
Period
20th Century
Form
Vase
Material
Glass

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