Treasure: Glass bowl worth more if it’s truly Tiffany

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

Families mean well, but information passed down isn’t always reliable. That’s often the case when it comes to heirlooms, many of which come with stories and other information that can be difficult to prove, says appraiser Brian Thomczek.

The beautiful blue and green glass bowl Janet and Ray Husband recently brought in for appraisal to a session held at the Michigan Design Center in Troy was no exception. Thomczek examined it closely but didn’t necessarily take the handwritten note on the bottom as absolute truth. “It came from my grandfather, who was a doctor in Detroit,” Ray told the appraiser. His grandfather passed away in the late 1960s and it was passed down through Ray’s family. “It was given to me by my mother-in-law in the 1980s,” Janet wrote in the original email. Somewhere along the way, the words “Very Valuable Tiffany glass” were added to a small slip of paper taped to the bottom in her mother-in-law’s handwriting.

But is it really?

Thomczek carefully pulled the paper up to peek beneath, where he, unfortunately, found few clues. “There are a few surface chips and some wear and tear,” he told the couple. “My gut feeling is that someone probably used it as a fruit bowl.”

His other gut feeling was that it probably wasn’t Tiffany. “This is beautiful and in really good condition,” he told them. “But it isn’t signed and I really wish it was. If it were really Tiffany it would be marked LCT somewhere for Louis Comfort Tiffany, usually on the center bottom or the side of the bottom.”

He said that the colors are in the right palette for Tiffany, but that most works made by Tiffany would have been signed. He also felt that the 4-inch high, 10-inch in diameter piece wasn’t as old as the couple originally thought. “I really don’t think this dates to the 1920s, more likely it’s later, probably 1940s or early 1950s. I don’t think Tiffany did a lot of fluted edges,” he added.

That said, Thomczek said it’s a very pretty piece of art glass and there would be a market for it if they were to sell it. “The colors and the fluted edges are pretty and would appeal to a wide number of collectors.” As an unidentified piece of art glass, he said it has a $400-$500 retail value. If it was Tiffany, it could bring $2,800 to $3,500 easily or more, he told the Husbands.

“If you did more research and could confirm that it was Tiffany after all, it would make a huge difference in the value,” he said. Janet, who loves researching, said she’s up to the challenge.

“We’ve had it almost 40 years,” she told the appraiser. “I’m just so glad we didn’t plant anything in 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. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.


this item

Item: Art glass bowl

Owned by: Janet and Ray Husband

Appraised by: Brian Thomczek

Estimated value: $400 and up