Identifying Loetz by Tony Ellery
At any one time, between a quarter and a half of the glass offered on eBay as having been made by Loetz was in fact the product of other manufacturers. As I write, a vase made by Rindskopf is being offered at Euro 18,000, at least 40 times what it is worth. Many other internet sites that list art nouveau and art deco glass also regularly contain incorrect Loetz attributions. Even reputed auction houses make frequent mistakes.
Many of these wrong attributions are made in good faith by sellers who do not have sufficient knowledge or experience of Bohemian glass. Others are made by sellers being overly optimistic, as Loetz glass will normally sell at a much higher price than that of other Bohemian glass houses. In other cases, unfortunately, sellers are consciously trying to deceive would-be buyers - and frequently succeeding!
www.loetz.com contains far and away the most comprehensive listings and photo-documentation of Loetz glass, and is constantly being updated - and occasionally corrected - as new information becomes available. If the décor of a piece of glass you are intending to sell or buy is not represented on the website, the odds are very high indeed that the piece was not manufactured by Loetz.
These photos show one of the most common Phaenomen Genre (PG) Loetz décors, identified by the number 6893. As the ground colour is ruby red, this is an example of Rubin PG 6893, and is well documented on loetz.com.
While there are many different sources of misattributions, there are certain categories that one should particularly watch out for:
- Art nouveau Bohemian glass made by Loetz’s contemporaries around the turn of the 20th Century. The main companies are Rindskopf, Kralik and Pallme-Koenig. Several collectors maintain websites illustrating glass from these manufacturers and it is worth viewing them and comparing their typical shapes and décors with those of Loetz. Indeed, Kralik created a décor which - put politely - was a tribute to PG 6893 and is frequently mistaken for it.
- Much of the glass produced at the time these companies were active cannot be reliably assigned to any manufacture, as records and pattern books have been lost over the years and the names of some glass houses have been completely forgotten during the past century.
- Modern glass produced in the Czech Republic which copies more of less accurately the old Loetz styles. Many of these are made by reputable and talented artists who are not seeking to deceive. Examples would be the Stepanek brothers and Igor Muller. While the artists are not trying to cheat anybody, dealers sometimes offer these modern works as antique Loetz at prices far higher than it costs to buy them.
- One particularly annoying category, which was more or less created by some hopelessly inaccurate publications a few years ago, is that of (allegedly) Tango glass designed by (allegedly) Michael Powolny. In fact, Powolny made comparatively few designs for Loetz and at least 90% of the glass offered as Loetz / Powolny was not designed by him, and indeed a high proportion was not even made by Loetz.
In future we intend to add features to loetz.com that will help still more in identifying Loetz glass, by showing the most common misattributions and explaining how to ascertain which pieces are the ‘real thing’.