Identifying Loetz by David Littlefield
It is just as important to know products of companies other than Loetz if you want to have an edge when it comes to identifying what is Loetz. When I began collecting Loetz, I already had an interest in iridescent art glass. I had examples of Tiffany, Steuben, Kralik, and Poschinger glass as well as some more modern pieces of Lundberg, Eichholt, Orient & Flume, and Correia. Today there are the Czech artists making direct copies of shapes and decors of old Loetz. They generally add their own signatures to the bottoms, but those can easily be polished away by unscrupulous dealers. I even bought a couple of examples of Igor Müller’s and Vaclav Stepanek’s glass to study. Once I decided to focus my collecting on mostly Loetz, I began buying books on the subject and studying them regularly, as well as viewing websites with Loetz or other Bohemian makers. Again, if you have a good idea of what is out there and who made it, it becomes easier to rule something out as Loetz.
Another way to help with identification, and perhaps the most important, is to get to know someone whose opinions you trust when it comes to Loetz. Here I am speaking to those who have an actual interest in Loetz glass, rather than someone who found an iridescent vase at a yard sale and wants to sell it for a profit. I enjoy hearing from people who share my passion and interest in glass, and I’m happy to give my opinions when asked.
Regarding the example shown, and assuming that I didn’t know it was a Loetz Phänomen genre 6893, my thought process would go this way: The shape appears to be from the Art Nouveau period, due to the curved, wavy appearance. There are modern copies of Art Nouveau glass, but closer inspection will show shelf wear on the bottom, which takes many years to appear, and there is probably tarnish on the silver, so I am fairly confident that it is “of the period”. The silver overlay is almost never found on modern day copies, and the overlay matches the Art Nouveau style of the vase. OK, so who made iridescent glass during the Art Nouveau period? Loetz, Tiffany, Rindskopf, Kralik, Pallme-König, Heckert are some of the most common ones. This is where knowledge of the other makers would come in handy, making it easier to rule them out. Tiffany and Loetz are the two main ones that come to mind when you see intricate and ornate glass like this. Assuming there is no signature on the pontil, I would check online sources to find similarly decorated glass. A fast way to do this would be to search for “Art Nouveau Iridescent Glass Vase”. Looking through hundreds of photos, one would most likely find a few with this same décor, some of which should be properly identified. To verify these findings, then I would go to the www.loetz.com website, looking under the decors until I came across this one. If I was lucky enough to find the PG number while looking through the photos earlier, I would know to search the PGs first. After I was sure I knew what it was, I would run it by my favorite “glass guru” for confirmation. It is always better to do your own research first, and then approach someone for their opinion, rather than running to them right away. Collectors like to share their knowledge with others who have similar interests, and most don’t like to be used for IDs so you can make a quick buck when you resell your glass.