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Tiffany Lamps

Tiffany lamps, most recognized by the the distinctive glass patterns used in place of a traditional lamp shades, have been popular in modern culture since the 1890s. Tiffany glass refers to a special glass cutting technique used at Tiffany Studios from the mid 1800s to 1933.

Louis Comfort Tiffany, an artist, designer and manufacturer, owned Tiffany Studios and was originally credited with designing these lamps. Tiffany was a well known figure in the art community. In addition to his breakthrough glass cutting techniques, Tiffany also found time to be photographer. He spent most of his time traveling and had a passion for botanical artistry. In the late 1800s Tiffany Studios employed both a male and female design team, the former receiving the credit for the design of the Tiffany lamp. It wasn't until 2007 that the true designer of the lamp was finally discovered. After an exhaustive investigation by the New-York Historical Society and Professor Martin Eidelberg of Rutgers University it was discovered that the true creator of the lamp was Tiffany Studios designer, Clara Driscoll. Driscoll was one of the highest payed women during that time, earning $10,000 per year.

These lamps can be divided into seven categories. Each category containing distinct characteristics as well as time stamps. One can actually see the evolution of lamps Lamps simply by observing the Seven categories. The lamps are categorized into the following, 'irregular upper and lower borders', Favrile lamps, geometric lamps, transition to flower, flowered cone and flowered globe lamps.

 

Favrile lamps refer to 'handcrafted' pieces made by Louis Court Tiffany. The pieces represent very early styles and simple designs. This was the very first style of lamp and introduced a new way of inserting artwork into the home. Unlike traditionally blown glass, this glass was cut into pieces to achieve the desired design. This gave the lamp a unique appearance that is unmatched even today.

 

For geometric lamps, the design is very simple. The pieces are cut into regular shapes like triangles, squares and rectangles. These pieces are then soldered together to into various shapes of shade. Most geometric shades are designed using a large number of glass pieces and are therefore less valuable than other lamps. Some of the lamps however fall into a category called Fabrile Fabrique panels. This means the lamps were designed with a small number of glass pieces from a carefully scrutinized larger piece of glass. These lamps are of much higher value to collectors than any other Tiffany lamp.

 

Although these lamps have been around for more than a century, their constant evolution and versatility make them an ideal fit for any interior decorating project. The lamps are unique to their counter-parts because the stained-glass shade produces natural light effects that make any room feel bigger. When looking for Tiffany lamps for sale, you will find that they can range widely in price. Most retail lamps cost between $50-$500 depending on design complexity and manufacturer. Depending on the date of manufacture, design, who manufactured the lamp and condition, the lamps can be worth over $50,000 making them a prized possession for any serious collector.

 

Tiffany Style Lamps

These lamps are the modern day version of Tiffany Studios original lamp design. Tiffany Studios ceased doing business around 1933 making original antique Tiffany lamps very valuable. Today these lamps are designed in more variety and style than ever before. These vary in price depending on quality of design, manufacturing process, warranty, glass selection and even designer! These lamps still must be constructed manually, as machines are limited in the ability to wrap the glass pieces or provide any of the creativeness that comes from human interaction. Although some manufacturers have been able to perfect assembly lines for these lamps, the quality can be somewhat lacking compared to handcrafted designs. Handcrafted manufacturers also use better materials and higher quality glass than mass production firms. These handcrafted designs are often more unique in nature and are backed by reputable businesses.

These lamps are still prized today for their unique image and ability to create natural lighting effects with their stained glass and colorful features. They also come in a range of styles, including the Tiffany desk lamp and the Tiffany dragonfly lamp. Today, there are many different manufacturers of these lamps and many of the top designers and manufacturers have hundreds of online reviews making the highest rated designers easy to spot.

 

Most designers of authentic lamps still use the old and true copper foil method. This method involves using copper to hold the glass pieces together. Some designers use Came or other less expensive foils for adhesion. As with any art project, and this is considered to be more art than manufacturing, you must start by tracing the pattern. Patterns for the glass pieces are generally traced on a large piece of carbon paper. Once the trace is satisfactory, the glass piece is set upon the paper and the pattern is traced onto the glass. The glass is then cut into the traced pieces and colored to match the desired design. These designs can vary greatly, and include varieties in lamp type, shade type, shape, color, artwork and much more. Once the glass pieces have been cut, its time to put them back together. A firm hold is required, and since dealing with cut glass can be dangerous and many tools are required to complete this method. Therefore it is recommended that only experienced glass cutters attempt to do this. The preferred material to hold the glass together is copper foil. Its smoothness allows for easy adhesion to the glass and the subtle color of copper means it wont interfere with the design. Copper foil is folded around the pieces of glass. Lamp shades will usually have an extra amount of copper foil trimming the top and bottom edges of the shade. After the copper or adhesion material of choice is molded to fit the pieces of glass, a soldering iron or other heating element is used to secure the hold. This can be a time consuming process and is considered the most time consuming part of Tiffany style lamp design. When the soldering is done, a thorough cleaning ensues and the lamp is polished to perfection.

 

Tiffany Style Lamp Manufacturers

Tiffany style lamps, while often sharing the same beauty as originals, are not the same as original lamps. As explained above, Louis Comfort Tiffany was the original top brand designer and creator or lamps. These lamps are designed to look and feel just like the originals and provide the same level of art work and craftsmanship as the originals. The distinction is only made to avoid confusion amongst the general public. Real Tiffany Studios lamps are often worth tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars and can only be purchased privately or through auction. Louis Comfort Tiffany passed away in 1933 and with him went the manufacturer Tiffany Studios. His legacy lives on, however, as his and Clara Driscoll's work inspired many other glass cutters to use Came glass cutting techniques for home decor. In the path carved by pioneer glass artists like Tiffany and Driscoll, other top designers thrived and continue to find success with these lamps.

 

Dale Tiffany is often referred to as the foremost designer and manufacturer of fine Tiffany style glass and home decor. Utilizing a very high quality hand-rolled art glass that is inspected several times before selection, this manufacturer is known for its handcrafted lamps and other fixtures. Dale Tiffany offers a wide array of designs that are made using only the copper foil method. The company prides itself on having unmatched standards in quality, workmanship and detail. Glass pieces are inspected thoroughly using a light box allowing the glass to be inspected for patterns, color brilliance and integrity. Dale Tiffany is highly regarded by Tiffany style lamp lovers because of their excellent craftsmanship and overall commitment to excellence.

 

In 1900, Louis Tiffany debut his lamps at the Paris Exposition. Viewers described the light fixtures as seeing “light concealed behind colorful jewels”. One handcrafted manufacturer and designer, Paul Sahlin, has reproduced the same creativity and beauty with their own lamps. Sahlin has been designing unique lamps for almost 30 years. Each lamp manufactured by Sahlin is unique and has its own design, making it the closest thing to a real lamp. They offer a large product line and have furnished offices and lodging facilities in addition to operating in a retail environment. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Paul Sahlin line of lamps is the cost, these hand crafted beauties are surprisingly affordable.

 

Meyda Tiffany Lamps was founded by Meyer Cohen after he was asked to build a stained glass window by his wife, Ida. The window was intended to block the view of a neighbors driveway but the idea became much more. Meyda has purchased several smaller companies that specialize in glass making, cutting and artistry. Family owned and operated, the business is run by Ida's son alongside Meyer. Today Meyda offers many different product lines in addition to lamps and other home decor fixtures. When talking about Tiffany style glass, Meyda is a name the professionals are sure to recognize and recommend.

 

Historic Lamps

“Apple Blossom” Tiffany Studios

This classical lamp is believed to have been designed by Clara Driscoll (as reported by the New-York Historical Society). Recently auctioned at the Sotheby's “Important 20th Century Design” auction, held in New York, it auctioned for about 2.8 times its highest pre-auction estimate. The lamp features natural colors, from cherry blossoms to trees and spiders. This lamp shade is 18 inches in diameter and is an irregular border design. The base of the lamp is bronze and is designed as a tree sprouting out of the ground as the base funnels all the way down to the very roots growing from the grass below. This is perhaps the purest example of a classic lamp as it was designed by an original at Tiffany Studios. Apple Blossom sold at auction for $932,500.

 

“Wisteria” Tiffany Studios

Artist Clara Driscoll struck gold when she designed Wisteria, one of the most popular lamps ever produced by Tiffany Studios. This lamp was recently auctioned at the Sotheby's “Important 20th Century Design” auction for $602,500. An irregular border design is decorated with hints of bluejays, berries and plums giving way to the very vines that sprout the fruit. Glass pieces are meticulously put together to resemble a peaceful grapevine growing on hard soil. Manufactured in 1901, the original lamp designed by Clara herself was sought after by many collectors. This design was created by the “Tiffany Girls” of Tiffany Studios. A cutting department specifically for females at Tiffany Studios. Popularity was so high that the girls department, which was a fraction of the size of the male department, struggled to meet the demand for the lamp. In order to meet demand Clara had to enlist help from the male department. However, the male department failed to meet her standards for glass selection so she created a guide for them to use when selecting glass pieces, leading to more friction between the two cutters.

 

“Poppy” Tiffany Studios

This flowered cone design lamp is a classic example of the intricate designs that can be created using Clara Driscoll's unique cutting method. The glass is stained with warm colors that give way to bright bursts of sunflower, peaches and leaves. The natural aura of the lamp is accented by worn bricks neatly stacked at the bottom of the shade. The glass pieces are carefully arranged on the cone to give the illusion of blossoming flowers and fruit on a hot summer day. The base is a spiraling trunk down into the roots that hold this lovely structure in place. The lamp was manufactured from 1900 to 1906 and is made entirely of glass and bronze. Lamps of similar designs but made in later years range in auction from $30,000 to $120,000. A top seller for Tiffany Studios, this lamp and variations of it have found its way into homes everywhere. With this design, Clara continued to not only make stunning pieces of art, but pioneer for female designers. This latter fact is what attracts so many collectors to her work, for not only enduring the views towards women at the time, but channeling the emotions into her work to provide us with artwork on simple lamp shades and changing the glass cutting industry forever.