by Dr. Lori Verderame
Rene Lalique (1860-1945) produced some of the most famous art glass pieces of the 20th Century. From perfume bottles and vases to drinking vessels and figural sculptures in glass, Lalique was synonymous with high quality artistically fine glass of the Art Nouveau (circa 1900-1910) and Art Deco (circa 1920s) art movements. He made perfume bottles for Francois Coty, designed chandeliers on luxury cruise liners like the Normandie, produced glass plates for elite collectors, added his artistic touch to windows on New York’s trendy Fifth Avenue like Tiffany glass windows, designed automobile mascots replacing the passe hood ornaments, decorated high profile train cars including the Orient Express, and ran a factory that made vases, clocks, decanters, boxes, bowls, goblets, etc. Lalique pieces featured women, mermaids, birds, flowers, insects, fish, snakes, vines and the list goes on. Lalique was a very busy designer!
There were some oddities about Lalique and his art glass. The most evident was that he did not use lead–the necessary ingredient–in his ‘crystal’ pieces. Watch me show you how to identify valuable crystal. It is a requirement that crystal pieces contain at least 24% lead like Swarovski crystal but Lalique didn’t like the way lead changed the properties of the glass making it harder to work with and achieve the designs he desired. His pieces were made using the molded loss wax method and other pressed glass molding techniques. He added metal oxides like chromium in order to create glass of a red color, cobalt for blue, and uranium which made his glass pieces yellow.
It follows that World Wars I and II impacted Lalique’s factory production. But, in the years between the wars, Lalique was prolific and produced exceptional pieces and rare decorative objects that set him apart from other designers or artisans. He ran a factory in Combs la Ville until 1937 and his main factory in Wingen sur Moder within the Alsace region was operational until the Germans occupied the area until the end of World War II in May of 1945. While Lalique died in 1945 shortly after war’s end, his impact remains undeniable.
What to Look For
Lalique pieces are clearly marked with the Lalique insignia or mark. As I have told audience members at my appraisal events worldwide who have thought they had an authentic Lalique piece yet didn’t or those who thought they had a coveted Lalique piece from the period of Rene Lalique’s lifetime (that is an early 1900s piece dating to before 1945) and didn’t, you need to learn what the marks look like–both real and fake. And there are a lot of fake marks out there.
Fake Lalique marks are very commonly found. Some of the easiest fake marks that are trying to convince buyers and collectors that a piece of Lalique is older than it really is include the following words, phrases, or letters: (R) the registration mark was used only after 1978 and it is not an authentic Lalique mark used during Rene Lalique’s lifetime, the word ‘cristal’ is not an authentic early Lalique mark as that word was not used by Lalique, and the phrase ‘bottle made by’ was not used on perfume bottles made by Lalique in the early years of production. Avoid pieces with these marks if you want to collect authentic and valuable Rene Lalique glass.
It goes without saying that condition is vital to the value of a piece of Lalique. The piece cannot be chipped, cracked, or damaged in any way if you want to command top dollar for it on the market.
Specific figural forms of Lalique glass are more desirable than others. For instance, Lalique car mascots, perfume bottles in the form of flowers with original stoppers, horse heads, figural animals and birds are all rare, quite collectible and ultra valuable. Collectors regularly pay thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars for such Lalique art glass.
Get an online appraisal of your Rene Lalique piece from Dr. Lori.