(Editor’s note: This column was originally published Nov. 27, 2017.)
Dear Helaine and Joe:
This bowl was given to me by my great uncle. I have had it for 40 years and just recently wondered about the inscription on the bottom. It reads “L. C. T. Favrile.” Any information including value would be appreciated.
Dear S. P.
Over the years, we have seen literally thousands of pieces marked “L. C. T.,” or “L. C. Tiffany” or some such to try and indicate they were made by Tiffany Furnaces in Corona, New York. Many of these have been fakes.
The authentic pieces have scratched-on signatures, which are easy to fake. The good news here is the bowl belonging to S. P. is not a fake. It is a genuine piece of Tiffany Favrile glass, which is highly prized by current collectors.
This word “Favrile,” incidentally, is derived from Latin for “handmade” or from the Old English for “belonging to a craftsman.” It was originally spelled “Fabrile.” We observe that the ground pontil appears to be correct, as do the ground leveling spots on the raised ribs. We do see an appropriate amount of surface wear, but nothing unsightly.
Louis Comfort Tiffany (L.C.T.) was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, who along with Charles Young founded a store in New York to sell stationery and bric-a-brac including Chinese fans, desks, silverware and umbrellas. Louis Comfort Tiffany was born in 1848 and studied painting in Paris, but began his working career in New York as an interior designer to the upper crust.
L. C. T. began having items such as wallpaper, fireplace tiles and decorative accessories made to suit his taste and design sensibilities. This led to the incorporation of the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company in 1892, which sold such things as church furnishings, including the famous Tiffany stained glass windows.
In 1893, Tiffany became president of the Stourbridge Glass Company of Corona, New York, and the company evolved into Tiffany Furnaces, where Favrile glass was conceived and manufactured. Favrile glass has an iridescent surface, but the overall color of the piece is largely determined by the color of the base glass.
Glass in a color reminiscent of olive oil produced a multicolored but primarily golden surface when iridized, while a cobalt-colored base glass produced a brilliant metallic blue. It is hard to tell from the photographs submitted the exact color of the piece, but we suspect it is gold Favrile.
We also do not know the diameter of this piece, but again, we suspect — judging by the small table on which it is sitting — that it is approximately 8 inches in diameter. If this is the case, the insurance replacement value would probably be in the $600 to $800 range. Smaller examples should be valued for less, examples decorated with engraving would be valued for more, and blue Favrile might be valued for more, all things being equal.