Field Trip: Flagler Tiffany Windows
HOST: The luxurious Hotel Ponce de Leon in nearby St. Augustine was the brainchild of Henry Flagler, an entrepreneur and cofounder of Standard Oil. Flagler made St. Augustine a top winter resort town for the wealthy elite around the turn of the 20th century. The quest to make the Ponce de Leon one of the best hotels in the world led to the hiring of the Tiffany Glass Company, whose stained glass windows helped create interior spaces that were the epitome of Gilded Age splendor. In 1968, the elegant building and grounds became Flagler College, and today this college dining hall retains all 79 of its stained glass windows, making it one of the largest collections of Tiffany windows in their original location. HOST: Arlie, Louis Comfort Tiffany was hired as an interior designer on this project, and it was early in his career, wasn't it?
Yes, it was. In 1884, Tiffany's first wife had died, and in order for him to cope with his grief, Tiffany actually threw himself into building projects. One of them was the completion of his home on 72nd Street in Manhattan, and then the other one was to obtain these commissions creating windows for public buildings. What we're used to seeing are the more artistic windows-- the windows that you see in the churches, the mausoleums, the stand-alone windows that are in the domestic settings-- whereas this is very different. These are simpler, they've been made in multiples, and Tiffany himself referred to these as ornamental windows. The windows that you see in the dining room are the lunette windows, depict the flaming cauldron. The same design is reiterated throughout the building. This is a Spanish Renaissance design. The other interior designers who were working here who painted the murals and did the stenciling used a similar design that it all comes together in very cohesively. The other windows, the Bacchus window, the head of Bacchus, which you will see also in some of the painting, is featured in the window with a cluster of grapes over his head. HOST: What kind of glass is being used in these early windows?
Well, we can't get close enough to see what kind of glass is in there, but I would assume some of it is from the Tiffany Glass Company and some of it is glass that Louis bought from other companies. It was already being made to his standards, so it didn't make any sense to waste the time and the effort to produce the same thing. Now, what makes it complicated is that other companies pulled glass from the same pool that Tiffany was getting his glass from, so oftentimes when people see that glass, they assume those windows were made my Tiffany, but they weren't. HOST: What would be the value of windows comparable to this?
Because they're repetitive designs and they came in multiples, they would range in price from about $5,000 per window to $45,000 per window, and it really depends on the size, the condition and the provenance. HOST: It is just wonderful to stand here and see Tiffany's early work and hear all about it from you. Thank you, Arlie.
You're welcome, Mark.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.