I don't have anything substantial to add except to say that I appreciate the original post very much. It's informed discussion like this that helps me learn. I'm not keen on glass elephants, but reading the discussion has at least made me think about the aesthetics of glass and shown me what to look for.
I totally agree about attributions. I've just finished getting TxSilver's help for a vase an acquaintance wants to put on eBay. The seller (not a glass specialist) knows enough to realize that the price will be much higher with a "good" attribution, but honest enough to try and find out the truth. As an example, there's an ashtray on eBay just now that's listed as Seguso with no label. I happen to have exactly the same ashtray with a Galliano Ferro label. It's a reasonably nice piece and an ashtray by Galliano Ferro is likely to as well made as most Seguso ashtrays. But would we ever see an an unmarked ashtray attributed to Galliano Ferro? Unlikely. But even labels are no guarantee. I have a few Harrtil pieces, and my favourite piece has a Murano castles label on it. An interesting mistake by the import company, but I wonder how much confusion that label has caused?
I can understand why buyers take the shorthand route with labels and attributions. It must take years to gain the level of knowledge and breadth of information to be able to be make informed comments. I'm sure that most people buy what they like, but I'm also pretty sure that "buy what I like" is tempered by "as long as it's a good attribution." So the label or attribution becomes reassurance for the buyer that he or she is getting quality (and often a bargain). I wonder how much eBay has exacerbated this trend? I know Anita can tell a great deal about a vase by its feel, how Salviati can feel soft and velvety, for example. Yet on eBay we're reduced to a few little pictures. We can trust our eyes (if the pictures and/or our knowledge are good enough), trust the dealer (and trust here tends to be expensive), or we can trust the label and attribution. The reality for me is that prices on eBay can be low enough at times for me to take a chance. So I wouldn't want to be without eBay. I've put together a reasonable collection in a fairly short time, but I've not bought that much locally (the Lower Mainland of British Columbia). I've bought a few absolutely terrible pieces in error, but I've learned something from every piece of glass. I think I know more and make fewer mistakes than I did when I started. I think it would be a fascinating academic study of why people buy what glass they do on eBay. I can't figure it out, I know. Also, it's clear that eBay could do a much better job of policing the outrageous attributions, but I'd have a much smaller collection without it.
I'm not implying that we should accept eBay for what it is. I think of myself as having a social conscience (others might say something different). But if I see attributions that I'm pretty sure are wrong (for example, the Galliano Ferro example above, or Harrtil merletto being called Seguso), I'll write, politely as possible, putting forward my opinion with references usually. Most reply, a few change, fewer simply ignore. Any other suggestions here?
Sorry if I've hijacked this thread to the cafe. Thanks to all for interesting thoughts.