HAS LOETZ FINALLY COME OUT OF THE SHADOW OF TIFFANY?

Specialist dealers in Rene LaliqueEmile Galle, and Daum and art nouveau and art deco glass by D’ArgentalLegrasSchneiderBaccaratAndre DelatteMoserLoetzKralikRindskopfHarrachRiedelJosephineFritz HeckertSteinschonauPallme KoenigL C TiffanyHartley Woodand other great makers of glass between 1875 and 1955, Mike and Debbie Moir are well known faces at the major fairs around the UK – see list below for where to find them, but Mike is also a well published writer for various specialist antiques magazines and websites.

We are delighted that Mike has written about the rise in interest of Loetz glass for our launch. One to watch for serious collectors he advises! 

Mike and Debbie are regulars at the following prestigious fairs:

The Original National Glass Collectors Fair, Motorcycle Museum : 22nd November 2015

Cambridge Glass Fair : TBA

Chelsea Antiques : TBA

Battersea Decorative Fair : 29th September – 4th October 2015 – Our Next Show

Fine Arts and Antiques Fair, Olympia : Winter Fair 2nd – 8th November 2015.

Antiques For Everyone, NEC : 19th – 22nd November 2015.

Esher Hall (Sandown) : 9th-11th October 2015

The Mayfair Antiques show : 7th-10th January 2016


Has Loetz finally come out of the shadow of Tiffany?

Early August this year, at a little known auction house in Chicago, a very pretty signed Loetz vase went to auction with a $300-$500 estimate.  Lots of people realised that this was no ordinary Loetz vase and a few thought it might even achieve a few thousand dollars.  After a tense and long bidding war, it went for an amazing $50,000 bid (with auction costs, someone paid just over £40,000 for the vase – see fig 1).

Fig 1. A Loetz Iridescent Glass ‘Sunset’ Vase with lake and reeds decoration on pink and green background. Designed by Franz Hofstatter, circa 1898-1899. Signed “Loetz, Austria” Height: 10 ¼ inches – Estimate $300/$500 –sold for $50,000 hammer (quite possibly this Phaenomen vase had been on display at the 1900 Paris exhibition)

Loetz glass, once seen as the poor man’s Tiffany, has had a rollercoaster ride of popularity.  30 years or so ago, almost all impressive and iridised bohemian style glass was sold as ‘Loetz’, particularly in the USA and prices were high.  The market was very strong, but poorly understood.  In the 1990s books started to be published (eg ‘Bohemian Glass’ – 2 Vols by R & D Truitt). These well researched books showed clearly how many Bohemian glass houses, such as Kralik, Rindskopf, Pallme Koenig etc. had made very similar fine glass.  Many serious collectors found out that much of their prized collections weren’t Loetz at all and prices for almost all bohemian glass slumped.  As sometimes happens, eventually the connoisseurs re-evaluated their collections and realised that their ‘no-longer Loetz’ was still beautiful and fine quality period glass, so perhaps being Loetz wasn’t that important.  Having plummeted in price the bohemian glass market became quite buoyant often as discoveries were made of new attributions.  For quite a time Loetz prices failed to reach the dizzy heights of the 1980s. Recently, though, the Loetz collectors’ market has grown very strong again. The single most obvious reason is that now it is much easier to be sure that a piece is Loetz.  Many of the original design drawings still exist and a significant number have been published. Using this source, a diligent group of enthusiasts have tried to make Loetz a reliable place for successfully identifying Loetz glass.

Fig 2. Loetz Bronze ‘Phaenomen 29’ lidded biscuit barrel about 6 inches tall (not including handle) c1900. With original label from its Paris retailer – the famous ‘Passage Bohemian’.

Loetz, correct name Loetz Witwe, was named in the bohemian convention, naming the company after the significant patriarch of the family, followed by the owner/managers relationship to them. So Loetz Witze was owned by the Widow (Witwe) of Johann Loetz, incidentally making her one of the most significant women in the history of glass.  In the late 19th century, although quite small, Loetz was one of the better players in the World market of what the British called ‘Victorian Coloured Glass’. Towards the end of the 19th century this very traditional market was slowing and Loetz probably weren’t quite big enough to hold their market share.  Looking around they saw what L. C. Tiffany was doing with his more decorative and stylish ‘iridised’ Favrile glass.  For most glassmakers, making ‘iridised’ glass was a closely guarded and inaccessible secret, but fortunately for Loetz their close neighbours and friends Meyr’s Neffe/Kralik made it for the great retailer Lobmeyr and these friends were clearly happy to share the process.  Loetz quickly developed an almost unbeatable formula of just making to order and selling worldwide the highest possible quality iridised glass, designed by the world’s best designers. At the 1900 Paris World Fair the only glass ‘Grand Master’ prize winners were the famous:  Galle, Daum, Tiffany & Lobmeyr and the comparatively unknown Loetz.  They produced a large range that they called Phaenomen (see figs 1-3). They also made slightly more reasonably priced glass (figs 4 and 5).  Success was great but brief and sadly like so many other Glass Houses they failed to make the transition into making a popular style of Art Deco glass. They went bankrupt in 1937.

Fig 3. Loetz ‘Candia Gewaltz Mit Silber’. around 5 inches high,1910 and made for the famous English retailer Max Emanuel.

A sure sign Loetz is now strong in the market is that other areas of their production are now being re-evaluated and are beginning to be sought after.  As the Art Deco glass was so unsuccessful, the main ‘new’ interest has moved to the earlier ‘Victorian Coloured Glass’ some of it now being identified as Loetz for the first time.  See (figs 6-8) – For collectors looking for something ‘new’ this is probably an area to get into before prices go wild.

Fig 4. Loetz ‘Candia Gewaltz Mit Silber’. around 5 inches high,1910 and made for the famous English retailer Max Emanuel.

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Fig 5. Handled Loetz Arcadia (green to opal) enamelled vase c9 inches tall, c1898.

Fig 6. Loetz ‘Spreading-Peach’ coloured vase enamelled with spreading peach blossoms c1889, just under 11 1/2 inches tall.

For further reading see the three websites run by Mike and Debbie: M&D MoirRene Lalique Glass and British Glass and Glass Jewellery

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