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Author Topic: Thoughts on Attributions  (Read 1305 times)

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Offline Springhead

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Thoughts on Attributions
« on: December 30, 2007, 07:58:58 PM »
I have noticed a lot of emphasis on attribution in the threads. Sure it is fun to say Fratelli Toso or Alfredo Barbini... but... and I imagine it has been said many times before on a board like this... and it especially applies when dealing with tourist items like the zillions of bowls that were made... Many different companies made the same types of items. What was popular and was selling at the moment. It is fun to try and figure out who may have made a particular item but I think you can learn more by examining each individual object on it's merits... case in point... two elephants.

One with the Alfredo Barbini label and one with a generic Made in Italy foil label.

Which elephant is better? (very subjective, I know)

Hint: The black one


Offline aa

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Re: Thoughts on Attributions
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2007, 08:58:19 PM »
Rare eyes?
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Offline Laura Friedman

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Re: Thoughts on Attributions
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2007, 06:10:47 PM »
I like the black one WAY better.

Great post about attributions.

The truth is that most of the items on websites and ebay are misattributed.  Unless there's a label (which wasn't put there by an unscrupulous dealer!), it's incredibly hard to really know who made something, as the companies copied each other so much.

I've had vases that everyone thinks are Dino Martens with the labels of other companies, sofiati items with contemporary labels, etc.  "Unsigned" Venini happened, but not in huge numbers.  Take a look at the brand new items currently offered for sale by Murano exporters and you'll see the colonial themed figurines and dolphin stems sold every day as old.

Unfortunately, adding to the confusion are a slew of badly researched collector books filled with mistakes. There is even at least one error in the Heiremann books, which are the gold standard.

So, it's the frustration of Murano glass, but also the fun.

Offline TxSilver

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Re: Thoughts on Attributions
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2007, 07:01:18 PM »
I like the dark elephant better, too. It reminds me a lot of the Fratelli Toso elephants. I like that the trunk is held up and forward, instead of back like most are. Surprisingly, elephants don't sell that well on eBay. If I sell any more of the good ones, I will try a floor auction.

I wish that sellers were able to just list things as "Murano" on eBay. The main problem is that many of the buyers look for the specific makers because they do not know the glass well enough to know what they are buying. I see less misattribution now than I did a couple of years ago. The Dino Martens misattributions are the biggest thorn in my paw, so I am glad that you mentioned it, Laura. As far as I can tell, Martens did not do any tutti-frutti designs. I cannot find them accredited to him in any book other than a "perhaps" in Leslie Pina's Fifties Glass, a book that has several errors. (Her later books have improved tremendously and I think are very good references.)

Many of the contemporary copies of the early Venetian stems have certain characteristics that help in picking them out. I used to sell some of the 19th Century Venetian pieces, so tried to keep up with the copies. It wore me out quickly. I don't worry so much about the pieces being sold on eBay, because the prices were so low that they matched the cost of the reproduction, anyway. :)

Great post and very helpful. Often the best we can do is say a piece of glass is probably by ..."

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Offline langhaugh

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Re: Thoughts on Attributions
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2007, 10:06:33 PM »
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.

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Offline Springhead

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Re: Thoughts on Attributions
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2007, 11:54:53 PM »

nice meeting you!

I have been going through my

photo archives from a long lost hard drive

and am finding some interesting stuff

I am going to throw some things up for discussion

intersting things... I hope... heh...


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