Original Tiffany lamps were made by Tiffany Studios New York, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. These lamps are now antiques and can go for millions of US dollars. Because original Tiffany lamps are so incredibly expensive, (only the uber rich can afford them), and many people across the world have fallen for their elegance and beauty — Tiffany reproduction lamps were created. These lamps are made with a quality en par to that of original Tiffany lamps. Tiffany reproductions have given people all over the world the opportunity to own and admire a classic work of art. These lamps have now become so popular that they’re in a league of their own.
Tiffany reproduction lamps are exactly as described… reproductions of original Tiffany lamps. When I talk about Tiffany lamps, this is what I’m referring to. This article is about identify good quality Tiffany reproduction lamps.
Beware Of Imitations
There are many people out there exploiting the beauty of Tiffany lamps — not staying true to the construction and craftsmanship of original Tiffany lamps; in the sense they’re not following the original techniques to construct these lamps or using materials that meet the same standard of Tiffany Studios. Worst of all these people are those that produce lamps made out of plastic. And then go about calling these lamps Tiffany lamps! I find this shameful to the Tiffany lamp name… plastic lamps can’t emit light half as well as good quality art glass! And one of the reasons Louis C. Tiffany created Tiffany lamps was because he wanted the beauty of stained glass windows to be in the homes of every American, but these windows were terribly expensive, and so one way Tiffany thought he could add exquisite stained glass to your home was transferring the art of stained glass windows to lamps. That’s why I’m writing this article. Not only to make you aware of these Tiffany lamp imitations, but give you the knowledge to determine what’s a good quality Tiffany lamp, and what’s a bad quality lamp… so you don’t fall prey to Tiffany lamp imitations!
The making of most Tiffany reproduction lamps use the same 100 year old technique (soldering 100`s of small pieces of colorful stained glass together) as original Tiffany lamps. Poor quality Tiffany lamps are made from pieces of colored plastic glued together… or made from poor quality glass.
There are many people producing and selling plastic Tiffany lamps. In my opinion — and I’m sure other Tiffany lamp owners and collectors will agree — are of inferior quality. This is why when you go to buy a Tiffany lamp, you should make sure that the materials used are of high quality (both base and shade). The glass should be good quality art glass… not plastic. Please do not be fooled by these cheap plastic imitation lamps, as some of the sellers of these lamps are trying to pass them off as good quality Tiffany lamps. Poor quality Tiffany lamps are much cheaper than authentic Tiffany reproduction lamps.
How Tiffany Lamps Are made… A brief Overview
For you to be able to identify a good Tiffany lamp from a bad one, you need to have knowledge on how Tiffany lamps are made. All decent Tiffany lamps are not made by machinery, but hand made works of art. The shade of a Tiffany lamp is constructed from hand cut, polished and shaped pieces of stained art glass. Once all the pieces are cut, copper foil is wrapped around each individual piece (can you image how long that would take for a shade made out of 1000 pieces?). These copper wrapped glass pieces are then soldered together with lead.
An Important Bit!
I must stress here, that when you look at a Tiffany shade close up, you may see some bubble, seeds (tiny bubbles) or lines in the stained glass. Do not be alarmed by this! These are not defects. They’re features of the lamp and add character to the lamp… they simply reflect the nature and beauty of real stained art glass!
One of the great, and unique features about a Tiffany lamp is that no two Tiffany lamps are identical. Why? Because the glass in these lamps aren’t plain ordinary glass… it’s high quality hand rolled art glass, and only the best pieces of glass — with the right hues and texture — are used for the Tiffany shade. This… combined with the characteristic qualities of the seeds and lines mean there’s and infinite subtle variation of any one Tiffany lamp of the same shade, size and theme. No wonder Tiffany lamps are so special and a true one-of-a-kind lamp!
How To Identify Good Quality Glass
Good Tiffany lamps are made of colorful glass of intense color. These Tiffany lamps are vibrant pieces of decorative art, that would catch the corner of your eye — even in a room that’s lit by bright summer light pouring through the window pane. This is true even if the lamp is not even lit! This shows the quality and intensity of colors in a good quality lamp. Poor quality Tiffany lamp glass will be the opposite, the color of the glass will be washed out, the shade will appear dull and flat. This lamp would not out shine a sun lit room on a hot summers day.
A Good Quality Base
Good high-end Tiffany lamps use bronze bases… whilst lower quality Tiffany lamps aren’t made out of such high quality material, but have bronze finished bases made of zinc alloy. Try to stay away from this type! Another type of base that’s good quality is a base made out of mahogany. A good quality base will last you for years… and your grandchildren too!
The price range of good quality Tiffany lamps vary. The more intricate the design of the lamp, the greater the price will be… due to the amount of effort a glass lamp artist has to undertake to implement an intricate design — compared with a simpler one. Also. The more panels and colors a Tiffany lamp has, the more costly it is.
The Good… The Bad… And The Plain Old Ugly!
Here’s a quick overview of what to look for in a good & bad Tiffany lamp.
o Use low quality glass which looks rough and lacks brilliance
o They need a good light bulb to illuminate the artistic patterns
o The colors are not well arranged in these lamps
o They’re inconsistent nature of the low-end glass makes it difficult to find the exact color variations
o Use high quality stained glass.
o They shine even when the light bulb is not lit
o You can see the patterns clearly all the way through
o The texture of art glass is smooth
o The colors are vibrant and well balanced thus bringing their themes to life
o Have plastic as a substitute to glass. (Sorry… I don’t mean to offend anyone here, but in my opinion, these lamps should never be produced!)
o The solder is inconsistent
o Solder is thick at some places and thin at other places… indication of poor craftsman ship
o Finely drawn
o Even and well polished
o Firm and usually plump
o Supporting the glass artwork and holding the shades tight
Good Tiffany style lamps have a smooth and even solder lines separating the glass pieces. Bad Tiffany lamps have a rough and uneven solder lines — if you’re not careful… the solder lines may even cut your fingers!
Is a Fruit Lamp A Tiffany Lamp?
To put it bluntly… fruit lamps being called Tiffany lamps is a huge insult to the late Louise C. Tiffany and anyone in the Tiffany lamp business! Not every stained glass lamp you see is a Tiffany lamp, and a fruit lamp is one of them. So why, you may be thinking, is a fruit lamp not a Tiffany lamp? Well you’re in luck. After you’ve finished reading this you’ll know exactly how to identify what’s a Tiffany lamp, and what is NOT a Tiffany lamp.
Some of the main differences between Tiffany lamps and fruit lamps are:
o A single Tiffany lamp may has between 300-2000 glass pieces whereas a fruit lamp may have about 100 or so.
o Tiffany lamps are made from good quality art glass, which mean they have very deep rich colors, the glass offers a three dimensional effect… effectively making the theme on the glass shade spring to life. Whereas a fruit lamp appears flat and two dimensional. It looks dull and dingy. There’s no life to the fruit on these shades — the glass used on these fruit lamps adds no beauty to the lamps at all. These fruit lamps aren’t elegant like a Tiffany lamp. They’re coarse and dreary.
o Tiffany lamps are very expensive… they can go from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars whereas fruit lamps are not expensive and can be bought almost anywhere.
So. Hopefully, now you won’t be fooled by the cheap stained glass lamps portraying as Tiffany lamps. If there’s one way you want to add a touch of beauty to your home… then you can’t go wrong with an exquisite Tiffany lamp. It’ll stand the test of time for generations to come.