This example illustrates well the simple ways unscrupulous individuals will sometimes change legitimate contemporary collectibles to make it possible to misrepresent them as something they are not, nor were ever intended to be. This particular piece can be truthfully called iridescent glass. It does seem to have been made in the form of a scarab beetle and the item could be used as a paperweight. But the etched name on its base is just as false as the integrity of the person who etched it there. This piece was not created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the early 1900's. Since it was not, then it also cannot be genuine Favrile glass, which was a type of glass created and sold only by Tiffany Studios.
The Tiffany name is well known and respected. Even the non-Tiffany art glass or paperweight collection oriented consumer might feel encouraged to invest a good sum of money in an item marked with the Tiffany name. Fakers know this. They count on it being true. When presented with such an item as this the first thing to call to mind is whether or not with a simple motorized tool available at most hardware stores, you would be able to etch your own name on the item, too. If you could do that with your own name, someone else could have done the same with Tiffany's. And just as your name on an item wouldn't mean it was made by you, the L.C. Tiffany name being written on a piece is no guarantee that it was made by him.
When it comes to an item supposedly by such a well known maker, don't look at the mark, look at the item. This can sometimes be difficult to do if initial excitement at being presented with the opportunity to own a Tiffany Studios glass work clouds your judgment. Fakers count on this, too. Yes, authentic L.C. Tiffany items are out there and many fine and trustworthy dealers sell them. But, is this one of them? You have to ask that question and then look at the item, only, not the name.
Characteristics about this item say, no, this was not made by Tiffany, and you don't have to be an expert in their ware to see why if you take the time to actually 'see' the piece. In truth, this item is a production piece that was made by a contemporary glass studio. The design was available not so long ago and could be purchased in various different colored iridescent finishes. Before sale as a brand new piece the initials of the artist's glass studio were etched on the base and a paper label bearing the name of the artist was attached in the center of the pontil mark. The pontil mark is that rough area in the center of the base where a pontil rod had been attached when the glass was being worked at creation. Once this item became the property of the fraud artist, however, the paper studio label was removed, the initials of its maker ground away, and the 'L.C. Tiffany Favrile' signature was added.
The Tiffany name is synonymous with the phrase 'extremely high quality." Basically, think Tiffany = superb in all aspects. So does this item fully meet that expectation? Although very handsome, certain quality aspects deny the supposed connection to creation by Tiffany Studios. The insect's details are not particularly clear or sharp. Instead they are round edged and lack definition. The iridescence has been allowed to settle into ridges and depressions on the carapace and head and appears somewhat uneven, overall. Underneath we see a pontil mark only smoothed enough to remove any sharpness or unevenness, to allow the piece to rest flat on a surface. Tiffany pieces almost invariably will have a finely polished pontil mark, or a button pontil created by adding a glass wafer to hide underlying roughness. None of these features noted on this piece correspond to the reputation of quality and attention to detail inherent in the Tiffany name.
Finally, if you are looking at a Tiffany marked piece and insist on considering the signature, it helps to know that the signature they placed on the majority of their art glass pieces will have been etched counter-clockwise on the base. This means it will be under the pontil mark oriented from left to right. On this glass item, it was applied over the pontil mark moving in a clockwise direction.
Once you realize that a Tiffany signature may have been added to an item by someone other than Tiffany, examine the base of an item closely. Look past the signature the seller wants you to see and check for indications of another mark or marks that may have been removed. On this item, near the edge of one side of the pontil mark, a ground area can be seen. This is where the initials of the original art glass studio were ground away. Sometimes, if not done well enough a jeweler's loupe will allow these initials to still be read. The red arrow in two images included in this listing point to this area so that the viewer will be sure to note what this type of removal can look like.
See the Favorite Links page for a link to a page on the Met Museum website that displays a real L.C. Tiffany glass scarab.
Don't let a false L.C. Tiffany Favrile marked item enter your collection as an example you keep of an 'expensive lesson.' Save the money in your collection budget for the real thing.
Illustrations and Characteristics for Help in Identifying Many Confusing New Items
Item listings in this shop are intended to be viewed for educational purposes, only. Items in this shop are not for sale.