Purchase Story

Lamps, Glass, and Jewelry Auction

James D. Julia, Inc., Fairfield, Maine

Not surprisingly, the name Louis Comfort Tiffany dominated the James D. Julia lamp, glass, and jewelry auction on December 1, 2017, in Fairfield, Maine. About 60 Tiffany lamps and chandeliers came up, led by a trio of lamps that topped the sale at $84,700 apiece (including buyer’s premium). See the captions for more descriptions.

A trifecta of Tiffany lamps sold separately, topping the sale with matching prices of $84,700. One is a Tiffany Studios hanging chandelier (above)depicting nasturtiums with yellow and amber flowers and rich green leaves of various shades against a cloudy blue background. Top right, a domed Tiffany Studios table lamp has yellow roses adorning the bottom of the shade and yellow and red butterflies fluttering above the flowers, against a honeycomb of blue and white sections, resting on a five-legged bronze urn-form base. Completing the threesome is a Tiffany Studios table lamp (right) with red geranium flowers and leaves on a white and dark blue background decorating the shade, and a bronze flowerpot base with five arms supporting the shade.

As often happens here, bidders were all abuzz over a Tiffany Dragonfly table lamp. Each of the little glass insects in the shade had minutely veined wings, deep red bodies, and azure-hued compound eyes, backed by fields of green and amber textured glass. The faux turtleback bronze base, marked “TIFFANY STUDIOS / NEW YORK / 587,” supported a three-socket cluster and was finished in a two-tone surface of dark brown bronze patina and gold doré. Even with a few small hairline cracks, the dragonflies sold for $63,525 (est. $60,000/80,000). Another Tiffany Dragonfly lamp didn’t fly so high. That one had a cone-shaped shade, dragonflies composed of amber bodies and eyes with red wings, and a green and amber dichroic background, which was augmented by blue, green, and opalescent cabochon jewels. It rested on a Rookwood Pottery vase with an incised water lily design, signed with a Rookwood flame mark that dated it to 1905. That one found no takers with a $65,000/75,000 estimate.

Chryselephantine sculpture signed “D. H. Chiparus” of a lithe and lovely Art Deco dancer, sold for $15,966.20.

Tiffany table lamp with a floral band surrounded by a field of striated pink and cream glass. The three-armed base is marked on the underside “TIFFANY STUDIOS / NEW YORK / 21667,” around a Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company logo. Finished in a dark brown patina and topped with a replaced heat cap, it sold for $42,350 (est. $30,000/50,000).

Hanging hall lamp, attributed to Tiffany Studios, ended at $51,425 (est. $30,000/35,000).

A massive 16½" x 16½" hanging hall lamp was attributed to but not signed by Tiffany Studios. Twelve vertical panels contained four light blue to white opalescent glass cabochons apiece, built into a bronze lattice framework, finished in a light brown patina. Bidders were confident enough to ignore the $30,000/35,000 estimate and push it up to $51,425.

One of the non-Tiffany standouts was a statue by Demétre Haralamb Chiparus (1886-1947), a Romania-born sculptor of the Art Deco era. His sculptures of dancers, theater performers, and early motion picture actors were often done in chryselephantine—a term originally denoting ancient sculptures made with a combination of gold and ivory, but later encompassing modern examples made of ivory combined with other materials, such as bronze. Here we had just such a work, with a lithe dancer in an exuberant pose. Her green, red, and gilt attire set off the ivory skin tones. Signed “D. H. Chiparus” on the top of the stepped marble base, the 16¼" tall statue closed at $15,966.20, short of the $20,000/30,000 estimate.

One dragonfly took off and one stayed on the ground. A Tiffany Dragonfly table lamp (left and above) with deep red bodies and blue eyes soared to $63,525. And a Tiffany Dragonfly lamp with a Rookwood base failed to lift off and went unsold with a $65,000/75,000 estimate.

Auctioneer Jim Julia stepped out from behind the podium to welcome his wife, Sandy, as she arrived to a hearty round of applause. Sandy is undergoing cancer treatment, and we send her our sincere prayers and warm thoughts.

A squat Tiffany Studios table lamp sporting a shade full of mottled pastel crocus flowers and leaves on an off-white background. Rounded out by a converted kerosene base with a light brown glass body, it sold for a fat $54,450 (est. $40,000/60,000).

Most Mainers know that gentian root is what gives Moxie soda its “distinctively different” flavor, as its advertising tagline states. But it’s the gentian flower that gave a Tiffany table lamp its appeal. The flowers on the shade hung downward from the cap, the opposite of their natural upward position. An inverted arch of green panels surrounded each flower, pointing to a ring of chunky green jewels. With a bronze Tiffany base decorated with matching gentian flower designs sculpted in relief and a floral openwork stem, the lamp was distinctively different enough to merit an $81,675 sale.

For more information, visit (www.jamesdjulia.com) or call (207) 453-7125.

This Tiffany Gentian table lamp had enough “moxie” for bidders to give it a ride to $81,675 (est. $40,000/60,000).


Originally published in the March 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest

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