The field of antique lighting is vast and complicated, with entire books being dedicated to a single manufacturer.
So how do you identify the real thing from the reproductions? Let’s take a look at two of the most commonly reproduced lamps, Tiffany and Aladdin.
Conversational English has become peppered with generic terms which are actually trademarked. For example: Paper tissues are collectively referred to as Kleenex, my grandmother called all refrigerators a Frigidaire, and many of us refer to all leaded glass lamps as Tiffany. The problem arises when we mentally transpose the generic into the specific.
Tiffany “style” lamps are found everywhere from fine antique auctions to the Home Shopping Network. The original lamps made in the Tiffany Studio from 1890 to 1930 can range in value from a few thousand to a top end in seven figures. Several companies created lamps in the ‘Tiffany” style during the 1920s and even tough these lamps are “antique,” they are worth a fraction of the value of an actual Tiffany. To add to the confusion, fakes hit the market in the last quarter of the 20th century that are so well produced that they can fool even an avid collector.
Tiffany lamps are almost always marked. The most common of the marks are TGDC or Tiffany Studios of New York. One of these marks will be accompanied by the model number and will be found on the base of the lamp which in most cases will be bronze, although a few pottery bases were made.
When looking for marks remember that “Tiffany & Co.,” is not the same as “Tiffany Studios New York” which denotes lamps made by Louis Comfort Tiffany. While the mark may not be of help in placing age to the lamp, it will help you to verify the authenticity of the pieces.