Antiques & Collecting: Tiffany’s varied work finds itself back in style
Mention Tiffany, and collectors may think of the very different things made by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
He was so talented that it is almost impossible to know everything he did. He was a popular designer and creator of glass, pottery, jewelry, windows, lamps and even houses, rooms and gardens for many years, then fell out of favor less than 10 years after he died.
But today, everything he did is back in style. Charles Lewis Tiffany, Louis Tiffany’s father, started a jewelry store in 1837 that still is in business with the name Tiffany & Company.
Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) started his own business in 1879 and named it Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists (1879-1902). He also was a decorator for his father’s company in the early 1900s. The name was changed to Tiffany Studios after his father died in 1902, and he became vice president.
L.C. Tiffany usually signed his name on his famous iridescent glass instead of the Tiffany Studios company name. He also signed his name on his paintings and sketches. The jewelry and clocks he designed were made by and signed Tiffany & Company.
The Tiffany Glass Company made the glass for the windows and lamps, but many of the windows were never signed. And Tiffany couldn’t sign the houses and gardens he designed or decorated, even major decorating jobs at the White House, the Presidential Palace in Cuba and his own homes.
Many metal and glass desk sets, paperweights, candlesticks, bookends, glass scarabs and other small objects also were made. Today’s collectors and art buyers want anything with any of the many Tiffany marks, and some — like the best lamps — sell for over $100,000.
The record price for a Tiffany lamp is $2,807,500.
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Q: At an antiques show in Pennsylvania, I saw a small quilt that was labeled a “privy bag.” Of course I know what a privy is, but I’ve never heard of a fancy bag used to hold toilet paper in an outhouse. I have a bet with my husband that it is dealer’s joke term.
A: You lose. There are references online dating back to 2010 for books and exhibits in Pennsylvania that feature quilted privy bags made to hold toilet paper. Some examples were at a recent show, and one was priced $995.
There are other kinds, some embroidered, some from fancy fabric and some just reusable cloth food sacks. The quilted ones have almost all been reported from the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area.
Privy toilet paper often was pages of the old Sears and Roebuck catalog, or squares of newsprint that were stored on a large nail.
A decorative holder was crocheted in the 1920s-’30s from directions in some sewing magazines. A full, round, colorful crocheted skirt was made to fit a small doll. The legs of the doll were stuffed into the cardboard center and the skirt covered the paper. It was kept near the seating area.
Few outhouses in the United States today are left in camping and hiking areas. The parks furnish a portable biodegradable kit that is carried out of the park at the end of the hike.
Terry and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. Names and addresses will not be published. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.