Treasure: When it comes to glass, these initials indicate quality
If you have a piece of glass with the initials “LCT” on it, consider yourself lucky. That’s what appraiser Brian Thomczek recently told Robert Montgomery about a vase he brought to the Michigan Design Center in Troy for an appraisal.
Montgomery filled him in on the background, saying that he met his first wife at the University of Michigan and they purchased the piece from Lillian Nassau in New York City in 1966 while on their honeymoon. “Sadly, my wife passed away not too many years later,” he added.
“LCT,” said Thomczek, is none other than Louis Comfort Tiffany, one of the country’s best-known glass artists. According to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (morsemuseum.org), home to one of the country’s finest Tiffany collections, he was “one of the most creative and prolific designers of the late 19th-century” and “declared that his life-long goal was ‘the pursuit of beauty.” “Originally trained as a painter, he began studying the chemistry and techniques of glass making when he was 24” the site continues.
He made the first favrile glass in the late 1890s, Thomczek explained, and won awards for it at the Paris Exposition in 1900. The style is different from other types of similar glass because the color is not just superficial, but actually part of the glass itself.
Montgomery said that he knew the piece was a Tiffany when he and his wife purchased it but he didn’t know much more than that and had long been curious. “LCT” can be found on the lower rim/bottom of the vase, he told Thomczek. “I wonder if he initialed all of his vases or only those he considered to be unusual?” he asked in his original letter requesting an appraisal. “Also on the rim is L272, which may have some significance,” he added.
Thomczek praised the piece’s excellent condition and exquisite design, saying that the vase is a fine example of Tiffany favrile glass work. “The presence of a sticker on the bottom indicates that it is probably a later piece,” he told Montgomery. “There was a period of around two years where Tiffany put a sticker on things,” he explained.
Montgomery also brought in the original bill of sale, showing that he paid $625 for the piece in 1966. While it has moved from its 1960s location, Lillian Nassau is still in business and considered one of the top dealers in Tiffany works, according to its website (lilliannassau.com).
Thomczek added that the sticker mistakenly leads people to believe the work may not be original since there are a lot of reproductions and fakes. “The sticker throws a lot of people off, but you only have to look at this to see the quality,” he told Montgomery. “It’s definitely real.” For all these reasons, he estimated the current auction value at $2,500-$3,000, maybe more.
Having the original bill of sale is a bonus, he said. “That gives you a provenance for this,” he explained. “For antiques, it doesn’t get much better than that, especially if you want to sell it. “
Montgomery doesn’t, and think it will get passed down in the family. Thomczek said that’s probably a wise decision and that he won’t regret the $625 investment. “Tiffany doesn’t go down in value,” he said.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.
Item: Tiffany favrile glass vase
Owned by: Robert Montgomery
Appraised by: Brian Thomczek
Estimated value: $2,500 and up