Collecting Tiffany Stained Glass Lamps

Tiffany stained glass lamps are high priced art design pieces in a variety of designs and shapes. Wisteria, Dragonfly and Peony are popular favorites.

People these days collect many things, ranging from baseball cards to vintage cars, but those who want a thing of beauty might consider collecting Tiffany stained glass lamps. A genuine Tiffany lamp is a spectacular example of skill, technique and elegance, however, a hefty price tag is likely to accompany such an object.

Louis Comfort Tiffany, born in 1848, was the son to the jeweler Charles Tiffany. He started out as a painter, but soon used his talents to designing decorative pieces of art. His talents for stained glass landed him wealthy clients who commissioned stained glass windows from him. In the 1890's, he actually started manufacturing the glass himself and opened his own Tiffany Studios. Later in the 1890's is when he began producing the now famous lamps, because the electric light bulb was becoming more popular. People instantly fell in love with the miniature versions of his famous stained glass windows.

The popularity of the lamps began to die out in the 1920's and they lost favor with the wealthy classes. They were considered "˜old-fashioned' and tucked away in basements or even given away as gifts. They remained relatively unpopular until the 1960's when they again gained favor when a resurgence in Art Nouveau design occurred. Another period of collecting happened in 1989-1990 and by 1997, a Tiffany Pink Lotus lamp sold at Christie's for $2.8 million, the highest price ever sold for a 20th century decorative art lamp. The more common prices now, depending on the quality and size of the lamp, vary from $10,000 into the hundreds of thousands. Another Christie's auction sold a Dropdead Dragonfly leaded glass and gilt bronze table lamp for $185,000, but a lamp of the identical material, but of the Apple Blossom design only sold for $136,000. If you find yourself still wanting to own one of these spectacular lamps, you can opt for a blown glass shade, rather than the full leaded glass, but this will still cost you about $8,000-12,000.

Tiffany lamps come in a variety of designs and colors, some with geometric shapes and some with the trademark flowers and vines. Some of the most popular designs are the Wisteria, Dragonfly or Peony lamps, but these are the ones that will cost the most, probably well into the hundreds of thousands. A collector must also be aware that since these lamps are so popular, there are also multitudes of fakes around. You can't just rely on a signature, because that can be faked, too. Before purchasing such an expensive lamp, you really must research the piece first and get to know all the intricacies surrounding the particular design or piece. Only buy from a dealer you trust or from a reliable auction house.

Even with fluctuations in the fickle collecting market, popularity and the weakened economy, Tiffany lamps are apparently one object that will forever remain a highly collectible art piece. Of course, if you want to start a collection, you'd better make sure your bank account is in good shape, and your knowledge of these artistic lamps is as good as it can get.

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