What an interesting post to read - it's nice to see Mdina finally receiving the attention it deserves. Thank you Sue too, for passing on such accurate and sensible information.
Firstly, the vase. Yes indeed it is a 'Fish' vase, as you all know by now. That is the proper name. I erroneously called them 'axe heads' in a past edition of the DK Collectables Price Guide by Judith Miller, which I do indeed co-compile and co-write. I called them that at the time (in 2003 I think) as that is what the examples I had seen at the time resembled to me, but the word has such poor, 'violent' resonances, I wish I never had called them that, particularly as it seems to have stuck. Apologies, as itâ€™s my fault - the proper term is and was always 'Fish'. That's what Elizabeth Harris has kindly since told me. I hope my forthcoming book will go some way to correcting this.
As Sue says, the way I have retrained myself too is to think of them as manta rays, particularly the more rounded ones. They come in many different shapes. If I hadn't seen the signature, I'd have been tempted to say this was an early one from the angled form, which appears in a c1970 newspaper ad for Mdina which will feature in my book. However, I have since seen quite a few later (by that I mean after Harris left, so post 1972) examples in that angular form. However, these usually have longer necks than earlier, similarly shaped examples.
The most typical form of early Fish was more rounded, more disc like --- almost. Smaller examples are a different form altogether, but you'll just have to wait for my book to see what I mean by all of this, as a picture speaks a thousand words here! Whatever, the general rule is that more squared off Fish forms date from after Harris left, although the generic Fish design and process was originally his work.
All Fish are cased, 9.7 times out of 10 with clear glass 'wings'. Lollipops are different. They tend to be much more rounded in profile, like a thick discus with a stalk. They are a different animal altogether. I use the term Lollipop to describe this form (uncased) at the Isle of Wight, and the heavily cased vases Sue speaks of at Mdina - the ones with one, but usually two, internal bubbles (which were indeed intended) and an internal coloured 'waisted' form. Basically, Lollipops to me are more rounded (always) and do not have applied 'wings' at the sides -- note the criss-crossing drips at the centre of Fish vases which are caused by creating the wings. See what I mean about a picture speaking a thousand words!
As regards how this relates to what has been and is shown in the DK Collectables Price Guides by Judith Miller, (the J Miller guides on this forum) thank you once again Sue for speaking common sense. Iâ€™ve read quite a few posts here that mention accuracy in our guides. They are indeed meant as guides - as the title itself indicates. Very occasionally errors are made, particularly over 'new' areas such as Mdina, for which I in particular am very, very sorry. With new areas such as this one, it is a learning curve for all of us. As they are annual guides, we are lucky enough to be able to update information for new areas as we learn it and it comes to light.
We always do our very best to accurately describe items, and show the value for that item which is based on the dealer's retail price or the price it made at auction. For information we rely a great amount on the specialists we visit to photograph the items with, who are kind enough to help us with descriptions, attributions and prices. It's not all 'us' and the books are collaborative efforts - nobody is an expert on everything (and those that say they are ought not to be trusted in my opinion!), so we always work as closely as possible with those that are deemed the experts in that area. We also try to always go to people who are genuine and deemed specialists. We canâ€™t go to everyone at the same time for obvious logistical reasons, but hope to able to work our way around as the years progress.
We're always very happy to listen to, and indeed work with, anyone who spots errors or misleading information. Just let us know. If it is a case of someone disagreeing with what a dealer or auction house has said, weâ€™re happy to pass this on. All of this can open a very interesting, educational (as well as often a highly enjoyable) dialogue.
We do also check our work with consultants where we can, and do not just trust something written on a random website, preferring to listen to our contributors, these consultants, and generally trusted sources of information such as Lesley Jacksonâ€™s book.
To end this over-long response, please do not think that we donâ€™t care. Judith has been in this business for over 30 years and I have been lucky enough to spend all my working life in different areas of the business. No single person can know everything about everything at once. We try to work with as many specialists and trusted sources as we can to ensure that we provide as accurate information as possible in our guides, and our other books. We love the area we work in and want to â€˜get it rightâ€™ for the people that buy our books, many of whom may know less than many of us here on this site, and also for our own knowledge.
If we share knowledge that can then be published and disseminated (surely one of the points of this website and many others), then it can only benefit the area as a whole. I don't mean to sound holier than thou, but hope that I am making at least a little sense, albeit in a longwinded manner.