Monday, August 20, 2012

Rene Lalique Glass: Collecting Antique Glass

Lalique had experimented with glass in his jewellery making and at 50 years of age he embarked on a new career as a glassmaker. A career that would gain him the worldwide recognition that continues today. He began creating classic glass perfume bottles for Coty and eventually he was asked to do the same for Worth, Forvil, D'Orsay, Guerlain, Rogeret et Gallet. In all, Lalique created more than 250 different perfume bottles.

Although most sell for modest prices, in 1990, a Lalique perfume bottled fetched $80,000 at auction. A few years ago, a L'ldylle flacon sold for $58,350 at the Philips Geneva flacon auctionA Japanese bidder paid $8,625 for a Lalique Bochon Fleurs de Pommiers design at a William Doyle Galleries auction in New York.

At the height of glass production, his factories employed up to 600 people and created millions of pieces of glassware. But despite his mechanised approach to production, the imagination and beauty of his work is unparalled. He personalized much of his work with frosting, polishing, and glazing to give it that handcrafted and individual feel.

Rather than create a few pieces that could only be enjoyed by the wealthy lalique mass produced his work in the hope that everyone could enjoy it. And in line with his love of the human and animal form, lalique created 29 car mascots in the shapes of fish, horse heads, frogs, dragonflys, shooting stars and St. Christopher Carrying the Christ Child. Female nudes were also a favorite design.

Lalique designed all the mascots to be illuminated from within and a 6 or 12 volt bulb was connected to the cars wiring to provide illumination. Filters were also used to change the color of the light to red, blue, green, amber, or mauve. Lalique mascots ornamented the hoods of the most stylish cars of the day ­ Bentley, Hispano Suiza, Isotta Fraschini, and Bugatti. Today, lalique hood ornaments are highly sought after by collectors.

His true talent shines in the amber, plum, blue, opalescent, gray, green, black, and yellow hues he obtained by meticulously adding measured amounts of pigment to darkened glass. Striking animal figures, mythical beasts, and geometric shapes poured from his fertile mind.

The art deco style in laliques jewellery followed through to his work in glass and, distinct geometric designs, smooth flowing lines, and vibrant colors are all characteristic patterns and qualities of lalique glass.

For the new Lalique glass collector, the two most important considerations are authenticity and condition.

Chips, repairs, ground down edges and drill holes will all reduce value. Poor condition can reduce the value in extreme cases by up to 90%. But there is a very big problem with modern Czech glass bearing Lalique signatures.eBay sellers list Czech glass in large volumes as Lalique. You can also see less valuable French glass of the 1920s with a Lalique signature.

Lalique used mass production techniques to make his work available and affordable to people in most income brackets. Literally millions of pieces have been created since the early 1900s, and Lalique factories continue to produce fine glass and crystal today.

In the 1940s World War II forced the closure of his factory. After his death, laliques son Marc re-started the company and in 1948, he changed production from demi-crystal to full lead crystal. Lalique's granddaughter Marie-Claude, later led the company and implemented her own style with clear crystal accented with colored motifs.

Lalique marked his work, even the mass-produced pieces "R. Lalique". However, the signature can be found in molded, script, print, and curved designs. In addition the leading L in the earlier cursive Lalique signatures has a curleyque on top, making the letter resemble an S.

Unfortunately Rene Lalique really used too many signatures in too many different ways to allow for a definitive guide as to what was manufactured before or after 1945. The pieces created by Marc Lalique are signed "Lalique France "The pieces created by Marie-Claude are signed "Lalique h France"
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