Glass Marks: Are they Fake or Forged?
Is it Fake or Real?
Just like manufacturers create knock-offs for clothes and purses to make money, they also make fake glassware to fool the consumer into buying a cheap imitation or a nice imitation of a piece of collectable glass. There are methods that the original glass companies used to make their mark that are usually not copied on the fake piece that can help to identify a cheap copy. Original marks can also be paper labels.
An important point to remember is that the makers mark can never be the only factor to consider in identifying collectable glassware.
While this guide helps in identifying forgeries, and gives sources that can be used to identify forgeries, it is important to remember that new forgeries emerge every day.
There are so many glass companies over the years that have filled many books on the pieces they produced. These books are a great guide to knowing their glassware and the marks they used. Do the research before you invest in something that may not be what you are told it is. If you like the piece and don't care if it is real, then by all means go ahead and get it. BUT if you want the real McCoy, then use the available resources.
This is just a guide to finding some very reliable sources before you invest in an expensive piece.
Art glass can be hand blown into different shapes. Tiffany and Fenton, and numerous other companies use this method to produce some of their glassware.
Art glass can be highly collectable and highly valuable. For this reason more forgeries appear than for most other glassware.
As with any glassware, it is important to know your glass maker and what signatures or marks they used at what time and on what piece and what tools they used to make the marks before investing in an expensive piece.
Forgeries are so common that the mark or signature simply cannot be the only source in identifying authenticity. The producers of these forgeries count on the buyers ignorance to make money.
As stated, there are so many makers of art glass. A few are Tiffany, Fenton, Steuben, Loetz, Milano and Mosser.
Some marks were made with a rotating ball shaped burrs that left a very ragged edge. Many modern forgeries are made with carbide or diamond tips and produce a very clean mark. These tips also cut rather than grinded. Many makers used paper labels only but forgeries will show marks on the piece. Acid etching is another popular method used in forgeries.
Cameo glass is a luxury form of glass art produced by etching and carving through fused layers of differently colored glass to produce designs, usually with white opaque glass figures and motifs on a dark-colored background. (Wikipedia definition)
Some well know makers of cameo class include Galle, Thomas Webb, Legras, Muller, Tudor and Schneider.
It can be very profitable to make reproductions of these famous cameo makers. It becomes necessary for the buyer to know how the original maker marked their pieces.
Reproductions of Galle have appeared as early as the 1990s. There are better reproductions of Galle, for example, made in Romania. They are however, marked TIP, meaning it is a type of Galle style. Forgers have been grinding off the word TIP and selling them as originals.
Many forgers will also use etching instead of the real raised lettering used on originals. Raised lettering is done by removing the surface of the glass around the signature or mark. It is easier for forgers to use etching, which is done by indentation into the glass with some type of carbon tip.
Location of the mark is often another clue. Many forgers will prominently display the mark to attract buyers although the original marks are not in these locations. Thomas Webb originals were marked on the base only while many forgeries are marked in more obvious locations.
Thickness and boldness of the letters can also be a clue of a possible forged copy. Thomas Webb forgeries have been documented as using wide crude lettering. Original marks were done using acid cutback that produced a raised mark.
Schneider and Tudor used engraved or etched original marks.
Knowing your glass maker and how their markings are done will help to identify a possible forgery.
Pressed glass is made by using a form or mold and usually some type of plunger to press the glass into the form. It can also be referred to as pattern glass.
Many glass companies failed in the early to mid part of the 20th century. Some of these companies are Heisey, Cambridge, Imperial, and Westmoreland.
The original molds were either auctioned off or became the possession of the company that took over the failed company. For example, Mosser Glass bought the original molds from Heisey and they continue to make these pressed glass collectables but the original diamond H was replaced with the diamond M or the name Mosser.
The thing to remember about these replications of the original molds is what original mark was used and what the new glass company is using.
Some fake Heisey replicas were found to be produced outside of the United States but the H is inside a square not a diamond.
Glass is cut using some type of abrasive wheel.
A lot of original cut glass did not have any marks. Many people are willing to pay more for a piece that is signed, however, so people will add a fraudulent signature or mark to get more money. The piece may actually be an original but the mark is not.
Acid etching or matte acid applied with rubber stamps are common forged marks. Etched marks can be recognized by magnification as you will see the acid spilling over into existing old scratches.
Another common forgery is rubber stamping or stenciling with a rub on material. Again it is important to know the maker and to know what mark, if any, was used in that production.
What You Need to Know
If you are interested in buying a piece of expensive glassware,
- Know the history of the maker and the marks that were used.
- When in doubt, use a trusted source for verification.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Tiffany lamps have sold for as high as $10,000. For this reason, forgeries are numerous.
Tiffany Lamp Forgeries
Some Characteristics of a fake Tiffany lamp:
- Poor quality and poor craftsmanship.
- No cracks in the glass.
- Marks that appear to be new
- Marks that appear to be uneven.
- Marks that contain serifs on the letters or marks that use both upper and lowercase.
- Antiquing that has been applied to the lamp shade.
Sources to Use
- Books on the glassware
- A "Guide to Fake & Forged Marks" - author Mark Chervenka
- A known antique dealer in your area with a good reputation for honesty
- A reputable internet source on fake and forged marks
- The glassware internet home page. Even the closed ones have a reputable one
- The library for other reputable experts on glassware marks.
Identifying a Forgery
Have you ever bought glassware and found out later it was a fake?
Spotting real & fake glass with expert Tiny Esveld, on Artfinding
Tiny Esveld is a well known and respected antique dealer that specializes in Galle. See and hear what she has to say and fake reproductions of this valuable glassware.
© 2013 Rebecca Shepherd Thomas