Treasure: Inherited vase is valuable French art glass

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

With all the colors of a fiery fall sunset, the orange, brown and yellow vase was certainly visually arresting. Mark St. Charles of Madison Heights knew little about the piece, but word had come down through his family was that it was “somewhat valuable,” he wrote in a letter to the column explaining its provenance.

“I received this vase from my mother,” he wrote. She had inherited it from her mother, who had it for many years and told her it had value, he later explained to appraiser Brian Thomczek, who took a closer look at Judy Frankel Antiques, part of the Antiques Centre of Troy. “She also traveled a lot and may have purchased it in Europe.” Despite thinking that it had value, St. Charles said his mother never really liked the piece. “She thought it was ugly and kept it in the closet,” he told the appraiser. “She may have kept it only because it belonged to her mother.”

Years later, he was curious about the piece measuring 91/2 by 8 that is marked with words that look like “Mulle Fres, Luneville.” After taking a closer look at the etched signature on the bottom, Thomczek identified it as a piece of French art glass, dating it to approximately 1915-1920. The family-owned company, he said, was known for making vases and lampshades and originally came from the area of France known as Alsace. Some of the family members had worked with Galle, another well-known French art glass maker, before starting up their own company.

The website provided a little more information. “Muller Freres, French for Muller Brothers, made cameo and other glass from about 1895 to 1933. Their factory was first located in Luneville, then in nearby Croismare, France. After World War I, the company also made iron and glass chandeliers, vases and other decorative items. Pieces were usually marked with the company name.”

While not as valuable as Galle, the vase would still command a good price at auction, Thomczek said. Because it’s in good condition, with no chips or damage, he said it would bring $800-$1,000 in a retail gallery, less if they brought it to auction, which is more of a wholesale price.

St. Charles says they have kept the piece in a curio cabinet in the living room and were happy to find out a bit more about it.

Thomczek said St. Charles’ mother was good to keep it in the family even if it wasn’t her favorite. “It’s a very nice piece of French art glass, with beautiful colors that looks a bit like a fall landscape scene,” he said. “I think it’s very attractive and it has solid value if you were ever to sell it.”

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Photos cannot be returned.

About This Item

Item : French art glass vase

Owned by : Mark St. Charles, Madison Heights

Appraised by : Brian Thomczek, independent appraiser.

Estimated value : $800-$1,000