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Offline Leni

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« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2006, 09:44:38 AM »
Quote from: "David Hier"
Art glass or work by small-run glass artists should always be signed. If its not, then something dodgy is going on.

I bought a Peter Layton designed 'Landscape' paperweight.  It was unsigned. http://glassgallery.yobunny.org.uk/displayimage.php?pos=-2274   I jokingly drew to Peter's attention the many threads on this board's Paperweight forum in which weights were identified as "it must be Chinese" on the strength of the matt, unpolished base, as this weight had.  Peter laughed, and said he had better sign it then, hadn't he?  And proceeded to sign and date the weight for me.  It is not normally his policy to sign paperweights.   I do have a large 'Spirale' vase of Peter's design, which is of course signed, but I don't know if it is just the paperweights, or whether they have a policy of not bothering to sign other, smaller items.   :?
Leni


Offline Max

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« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2006, 09:45:58 AM »
At risk of sounding like some self-appointed Henry Kissinger, I don't see why we can't compromise over this issue.  

I don't see any hard and fast rules as to signature, are there any??  

We all have our areas of expertise and can make assertive comments relating to them with relative ease, but comments that could be generalisations leave a lot of scope for retaliative remarks.

I'm not singling anyone out, and it's as much to remind myself as anyone else.
I am not a man


Offline David Hier

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« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2006, 09:55:20 AM »
Quote from: "Leni"
I do have a large 'Spirale' vase of Peter's design, which is of course signed, but I don't know if it is just the paperweights, or whether they have a policy of not bothering to sign other, smaller items.   :?


I have been to Peter's workshop for a couple of his Christmas sell-off sales (seconds etc). Peter will usually sign pieces when asked; although he usually has trouble knowing whether or not a piece is his own.

I believe that this has something to do with the fact that he rarely makes his own work these days. Peter normally has a number of blowers working in his studio, who produce his work for him. The best blower produces his best work. Examples by David Flowers are pretty hard to beat, but they are usually signed 'Peter Layton'.

Peter may still make smaller pieces, such as paperweights, I just don't know.

This is pure speculation, but perhaps Peter doesn't sign his paperweights because he doesn't actually make them. A guilty conscience? I don't know.
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Offline David Hier

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« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2006, 10:00:45 AM »
Quote from: "Max"
At risk of sounding like some self-appointed Henry Kissinger, I don't see why we can't compromise over this issue.  

I don't see any hard and fast rules as to signature, are there any??


As an artist and designer (not glass) I find it incomprehensible that an artist wouldn't sign their work. We artists are such egomaniacs it wouldn't even occur to us not to sign our work.

As I said before, glass artists should always sign their work. If they don't then something dodgy is going on.
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Offline Max

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« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2006, 10:07:58 AM »
David said:
Quote
As I said before, glass artists should always sign their work. If they don't then something dodgy is going on.


I wish you hadn't said that again.  In my opinion a dogmatic attitude doesn't serve discussion, it only causes rifts.

So much for compromise.  :(
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Offline David Hier

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« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2006, 10:24:31 AM »
Quote from: "Max"
I wish you hadn't said that again.  In my opinion a dogmatic attitude doesn't serve discussion, it only causes rifts.


Lets put it another way. Can you think of a good reason for an artist not to sign their work?
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Offline Glen

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« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2006, 10:33:51 AM »
Are we including moulded "signatures" (such as the Northwood N)? For some collectors it adds a certain cachet, but in general it really doesn't matter, as Harry Northwood's glass is well documented and fairly easily attributable even on pieces without the N.

But of course, a signature has the downside of being copyable. Northwood's N mark has been copied on a number of occasions over the years (in fact it even went to litigation in the USA). Northwood's script signature can also be found on Dugan glass, so it's not always a form of attribution. And of course, the N is found on the Far Eastern Northwood fakes too.

When moulds have been taken over by other companies, marks have sometimes been left on. Summit Art Glass are well known to have kept the Westmoreland (and Imperial) "signature" on many examples of their glass. This of course, can cause confusion (at best).

What about signatures by decorators and mould makers or designers? I believe they add much to the piece - it's not egotism, it's added information and as such it is very valuable and important. I designed two patterns for both a mould (machined by Island Mould Company) and a plunger (machined by Fenton) that is used to produce glass items. My initials can be seen (tucked away in the pattern) on both designs. It's not egotism that made me do that - it was to provide information and "history".

Glen
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Offline Max

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« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2006, 10:35:38 AM »
I wouldn't presume to know the personal or economic reasons why a glass artist would or wouldn't sign their own glass.  I'm not an expert on every glass designer and art glass studio, past and present, worldwide.  That's my point.  Unless you have those facts at your fingertips, then I can't see how anyone can say anything definite and incontravertable.

I'm not posting on this thread any longer.
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Offline Frank

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« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2006, 10:37:28 AM »
As a collector who cut his teeth on unidentified individually hand-blown glass that was unsigned. At the time the market was dominated by Lalique, Schneider, Gallé and other French designers. Collectors of British art glass were almost non-existant and virtually nothing was documented. Manley was about the only relevant work in that period.

I enjoyed not only learning about the glass but also the journey of discovery. Note, that I was at that time also a stamp collector and built a very specialised collection that required all sorts of tools and knowledge to identify the subtle differences. With no references to identify what was or was not Monart I also had to contend with the different makers of similar types of glass - in the process of which Nazeings history got brought to attention. Not having the luxury of signatures was thus a prime driver to really learning to understand the hallmarks of individual glassmakers. It became possible, eventually, to recognise Monart by touch alone. It was a fun 'party-trick' doing this with pieces I had never seen for other collectors. Also, I have to admit to looking down my nose at collectors who only collected signed glass, I used to make the same parallel with stamp collectors who only collected the basic values and did not care to go deeper into it. I no longer feel that way, it was part of my growng up in glass).

I am also aware that stores like John Lewis insist on glass being unmarked or even labelled.

Monart paperweights were normally labelled at the factory, though rarely coded. However, US collectors who bought their weights from Paul Jokelson got their weights without a Moncrieff label (They did have a PY cane) and it is not known if Jokelson insisted on no labels or removed them before distribution.

In my early days the only British glass with any following was Whitefriars Powell pieces or antique stem and cut glass. Glass artists were struggling and unable to get very good prices - few British glass artists have risen to major international prominence. Few of them signed their work either. I collected glass by a few Siddy Langley and Lindean Mill being the only ones I bought more than once. At that time Siddy was having to concentrate on bread and butter work and her 'art' was limited to when invited to exhibit. But only 3 galleries, Coleridges, Hayhurst and one in Bristol. Adam Aaronson was a sales assistant that I bought my first Lindean Mill from and I met him next when he had a gallery in Edinburgh after Coleridges closed. The discussion about signatures never occured in those days.

One of the main impact of the obsession with signatures is that they are an open invitation to fakers to reproduce the signature - the Chrism episode showed he did not care if the glass was scarce and valuable or cheap from a discount store. Many pieces were spoiled as a result.

One of the driving forces for glass manufacture for non-functional or decorative use is a succesful economy that leaves people with disposable income. Such an economy creates demand and desire, desire takes no account of wealth and this means that limited number of appealing and succesful designs are going to inspire reproduction and style following. Todays unique masters creation is tomorrows mass market vase and this allows more people to share in that original thinkers concept. Such an economy also faces increased wage demands as more people want to partake in the consumer process and to be able to enjoy the 'luxuries', this in turn leads to cost cutting in manufacture to meet the demand. Marking the glass is a labour intensive task and is often carried out by one or more persons in a factory. When trying to compete against cheaper imports the indiginous companies have to cut costs and expensive finishing is an obvious candidate.

Few collectors are studying and collecting current glass production. I am certainly guilty of not researching Strathearn while they were an active company and as a result much is lost. But Strathearn glass gives an indication of another issue with marking. Most Strathearn glass is marked with am impressed applied seal but in order to support that it was found neccesary to increase the thickness of the glass - increasing the cost. This is probably why many glassmakers did not use a similar approach. But even those seals were being ground down and a basal ring added in order to pass off as Monart. The accident of needing to thicken the glass resulted in a very different feel so it mostly hurts 'new' collectors. I would argue that you learn by your mistakes. The early period at Ysart Brohers glass saw the continuation of the Monart labelling approach, but this was very quickly replaced by an acid etched signature that was applied by 3 women using a brush. When times got harder and Vincent took Dunlop as a partner the signature was immediately replaced by a label of very similar design to that used by Dunlops Pirelli Glass. Indeed some Vasart was sold with only a Pirelli label on, but with made in Scotland instead of England. When Stuarts took of the Strathearn works it was used mainly as a decorating shop. Stuart Strathearn was marked by sandblasting over a stencil. While cheaper than most other methods of marking glass it is for collectors very dangerous because it is so easily copied. Acid etching needs a lot more skill, particular for well defined marks. The mixture of acid and flouride needs to be adjusted to each individual metal composition and I know one restorer who tried hard to duplicate such marks and failed.

There is one intriguing Monart piece smothered in signatures, was this done by Moncrieff's chemistry department to test mixes or is it the work of another restorer attempting forgery? (http://www.ysartglass.com/BaseLabel/Labelimage/MonSigEX1.jpg) a few more views are shown on this page http://www.ysartglass.com/BaseLabel/Labels.htm (Some Monart was acid etched for export to USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand). There is no provable example with an etched mark in the Monart exported to other countries.

Signatures and labels do form an interesting part of the in depth study of a factories output but have, in my opinion, little other value.

Each glassmaker has a right to decide for themselves if they wish to sign and this applies equally to artists.

An interesting discussion about a paperwight by Allan Scott in the paperweight forum http://www.glassmessages.com/index.php/topic,5696.0.html did highlight
the contributions of weight maker, Harry McKay and later in the thread attributed Martin Murray who facetted one of the weight. It transpires that the type of cutting used in this example is of the most complex nature and few have the skill to achieve this. Without the active involvement of Allan Scott, who made the lampwork and is viewed as the primary craftsmen, the contribution of Martin Murray would be lost to history. Then there is the polisher and any other assistants involved. Credit need to be given also to the other workers that contributed in some way to each work. Where do you stop?

Another signature focussed discussion in paperweights is about one signed with a script Schneider - this is leading down some circuitous paths and it is still not sure if this is a fake or an unknown Schneider!

There are plenty of hideous pieces of Lalique that are signed yet fetch a good price simply because of who they are by. I have owned some hideous Monart, because it was Monart, even if unsigned.


In summary, I would suggest that signatures are an interesting sub-topic for research but of no relevance to the collectability of a piece of glass.

Certainly collectors should not demand that glass be signed, mostly they are buying on the second market out of historical and fashion interest. They could go to still living craftsmen and pay them the value of the unsigned glass to have a signature added, although usually they just hand it over and say will you sign this piece please. Why on earth should the craftsmen do so? Flattery perhaps, usually they also get to buy a piece from the crafstmans own collection at the same time - do they pay the market value current, or just what the old guy asks for? I know that when I bought one piece from the Ysart family, I was generous paying ten or twenty times the pieces then value.
Frank A.
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Offline Glen

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« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2006, 10:47:28 AM »
Frank wrote
Quote
In summary, I would suggest that signatures are an interesting sub-topic for research but of no relevance to the collectability of a piece of glass.


I think they can be much more than that, Frank. It depends on what area of glass you are collecting. If "signature" in this context can be extended to trademarks (which is what I was saying above) then they can add much to overall knowledge and background / history. It was a trademark / signature "Jain" that led Bob Smith and me (as side kick), to discover that Carnival Glass was made in India. A shattering and astonishing piece of research, in its field - that had profound effects (both good and bad) on collecting.

Glen
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