- It is more profitable to attribute a piece of glass to Loetz, as it will inevitably command a higher final price if the buyer believes the attribution to be correct.
- It is easier to call a piece Loetz than it is to do the research necessary to attribute it to the correct manufacturer. This research may make it sell for less, but it does not diminish the beauty of the glass. Additionally, as correct attributions are made, the values of corresponding glass will rise as the quality of the companies work is recognized and appreciated by collectors.
That being said, this is an area of glass research that has made great strides since the lowering of the iron curtain in the 1990's. Many of the early companies in the region did not keep accurate records of production, and of those that did, many of the records have been lost in part or as a whole. There are also many lesser known companies such as Welz & Ruckl, and to name a couple, that produced beautiful glass at the same time.
Some of the regions better known companies such as Moser have amazingly complete records, and by simply sending them an image via email with a polite request, they will confirm whether they produced the item or not. Other companies such as Harrach, one of the oldest glass companies in the world, have archives that are nearly complete records, but they have not been organized or made available to the public.
Through my years of being on ebay I have waded through many listings for Loetz glass only to find, as my knowledge increased, that a large percentage of the glass being offered on ebay as Loetz is actually not made by that company. As of the writing of this guide, a search for Loetz on ebay using only the heading returns a result of about 150 items. Of those, 80% are not Loetz, but are being sold as such. Of that 80% the bulk are actually very nice pieces of glass by Rindskopf and Kralik. Of the 20% that are Loetz, the bulk of those were listings by a single seller with prices that would preclude collecting Loetz for all but the insanely wealthy.
Of the non-Loetz pieces identified as Loetz, there is a group of sellers represented that have been informed repeatedly of the correct identification of their glass, and provided links to information to substantiate the identification. In light of the fact that they have been given correct information, they choose to continue to list the glass with incorrect attributions and intentionally mis-identify their products.
As a result of these types of actions I have decided to write this guide. My intent is to try and help buyers who actually have an interest in this type of glass, to find accurate information which will help guide them to educated buying decisions about this glass.
The information on the internet and in books is readily available to those that choose to take advantage of it, and my intention is to try to direct people to those resources to aid in preventing them from being duped by those sellers that intentionally mislead, or list erroneously due to the fact that they do not want to do accurate research about the things they are selling.
I for one, am tired of seeing pieces intentionally misidentified after accurate information is provided to a seller, they thank the person providing it, totally ignore it, and keep their incorrect and misleading information posted. The mis-identification of this type of glass is a one way street, with Kralik and Rindskopf being identified as Loetz, but never with Loetz being identified as Kralik and Rindskopf... Why is that?? I say it is for the sake of an increased selling price.
I recently contacted a seller who guaranteed the authenticity of his "Loetz-Kralik" vase. (A fantasy attribution I have to add). A vase with a $950 "Buy it now" price. I asked him, since he was guaranteeing the authenticity of the vase, was he guaranteeing it to be Loetz, or was he guaranteeing it to be Karlik, since it could not be both. (Kind of like a Ford-Chevy car).
Here is his response to me.
"I'm a fine art expert and not a glass expert. This came from a knowledgable[sic] glass and art collector who said it was Loetz but another ebayer said it was advanced Kralik. Could go either way... so I priced it low.... Your call....
I responded to him with an art analogy I felt was appropriate:
"No offense, but it can't go either way.... Kind of like saying one guy said it was a Dali and two others said it was a Picasso.... could go either way.... so I priced it low.... Your call...
In fact, for those that know there would be no confusing the two artists, and for those that know this type of glass, there is also no confusing the two companies...."
Even after being given the information to confirm the attribution as a piece of Kralik, it is still listed as Loetz-Kralik with a guarantee of authenticity!! It is this complete indifference to facts, and the spreading of intentional misinformation that has motivated this guide.
I recently received an additional correspondence from another seller on ebay which I felt was even more revealing as to the practices on many on here. I am including both my initial correspondence and his response:
My initial comments:
"Hello, these shades were actually imported by the R Williamson Company of Chicago and are shown in their catalogs. They are identified as Teplitz shades. This identification, along with additional research which has occurred since 1996 has determined that the shades were actually produced by Pallme-Konig, and the decor has been matched to known examples of Pallme Konig vases. The 1996 Christies attribution you are using is incorrect. Just thought you should know. You can see portion of the catalog on this page, along with an explanation by a well respected authority in the field." (link blocked by ebay in this guide but is mentioned below without a direct html link to the site by Alfredo Villanueva-Collado)
"Hello! Thank you for that information. I am sure it is correct. I am also sure there is a website with authoritative information. The problem is we are in the business of selling merchandise. How many people looking for art glass shades are looking for "Pallme-Konig"? One in a hundred perhaps. How many may look under "Loetz"? The other ninety-nine. In this economy it is better to stay in business [with a fine product of quality, to be sure] than to starve know you have precissly [sic] advertised your merchandies [sic] to the fewest customers possible. We have used the Christie's catalog as a world respected reference."
My final email to him:
"I find your rationale to be quite disturbing. In other words, it is much better to lie to potential customers and misrepresent your product to make a buck, than to be honest and tell them the truth about what they are buying and you are selling..... No wonder the antique business is considered by many to be full of lies and deceit...
Most people would look for an "Art Glass Shade" and buy the one they like the looks of...
The word "Loetz" only serves the purpose of increasing what you can get from someone that knows no better..... and to be blunt.... It is incredibly dishonest to advertise it as such..... especially after you have been provided with correct information..
Additionally, genuine Pallme-Konig product is harder to find than Loetz items and commands quite good prices....
Justify all you want, You may be trying to stay in business and eat well, but you are morally bankrupt...... Too bad....
You have 934 items listed, and being honest about this one would make you go under?... Makes me wonder how many of the descriptions you write are complete and utter BS..... A great number I would have to assume...
Anything to make a sale!!!"
Even after being given the information to confirm the attribution as a piece of Pallme-Konig they kept it as Loetz. It is blatantly obvious in the case of this seller they would rather lie and misrepresent the item to make money than to sell it as what it actually is. It sold for just under $300 and the unfortunate new owner probably does not even know they have been taken.
It is because of these deceitful and greedy practices happening so frequently on ebay that I have written this guide.
There are many sellers on ebay who inadvertently list Czech Jugenstil glass incorrectly, and when provided correct information and links to verify it, they change their listings, or post the info as a question if the item has bids. To these sellers I applaud their actions and their desire to be accurate in their descriptions of the products they are selling.
This guide is being written not to chastise those sellers, but to aid buyers in their search for knowledge and enable them to properly identify glass that is being misrepresented, either through a lack of research, or intentionally to deceive.
Their are many good websites on the internet to aid in the proper identification of this type of glass, and anyone interested in it should take full advantage of them. You owe it to yourself to know as much as possible about the item you are spending your hard earned money on.
The first site, and one that is recognized internationally is. This informative site, authored in large part by Belgian collector Eddy Scheepers, is the most informative and used site for identification and information regarding Loetz. There is also additional information there regarding Kralik, Rindskopf, and Palme-Koenig glass.
Loetz.com is a site that provides not only pictorial references to aid in learning about the identification of Loetz glass, but also provides some historical information and a section devoted to the proper identification of Loetz signatures. There is also a very good section on Decors which is broken down by time date ranges, and provides excellent examples of the decors though high quality images.
In buying Czech Jugenstil glass on ebay there are many things which should be viewed as a pink flag, if not a red flag, to a potential bidder or buyer. these include, but are not limited to the following.
- The use of "Loetz School" in either the heading or description of an item. This is generally a way of implying Loetz without stating it outright, leaving room for plausible denial. In other words, I did not "say" it was Loetz. To clarify: There is no such thing as "Loetz School".
- The use of headings such as Loetz-Kralik, Loetz-Rindskopf, Loetz-Tiffany-Quezal. These types of heading generally indicate the seller is unsure of the maker, or in some cases know it to be the less desirable of the two companies (monetarily), but feels the name to get expensive names in the title. This type of practice is actually a violation of ebay's search engine manipulation policy but is rarely enforced. On any given day, 10% of the listings for high end glass violate this policy. A buyer should steer clear of any product offered in this manner, unless they have the knowledge to ID the product for themselves and feel the price is fair.
- The implication of the presence of a signature that is illegible or can't be adequately pictured. If you are selling and attributing expensive glass, you should own a camera that will take a good macro image to provide good pictures to potential buyers. In most cases "Loetz" pieces on ebay showing a signature are showing a spurious or forged signature. See Loetz.com for images of proper signatures. The vast majority of Loetz and other Czech Jugendstil glass is unsigned.
- Be suspect of an item claimed to be Loetz, but also containing a disclaimer by the seller in the description that they are "Not an expert" so decide for yourself. If they don't know, then they should call it Czech glass or Bohemian glass, but don't assign a brand name, and certainly not the best known brand name to it. Kind of like saying that "I am not an expert, but I think this is a Tiffany lamp".
- Be suspect of listings by Ebay selling assistants, or any other type of consignment seller that claims "The consignor told me it was Loetz". My experience is that the pieces are rarely Loetz, but some other nice piece of Czech Jugendstil glass.
- Lastly, be very aware that there are a handful of contemporary artist doing glass that closely resemble Loetz, and is on occassion offered with disclaimers on ebay such as "Age Unknown". Additionally there is at least one company producting high quality reproductions in the manner of Loetz Cameo and cut back pieces. These quality reproductions have already been found in shops being offered as originals, and will make to ebay at some point. The original manufacturers of these products do not misrepresent the products at all. It is the sellers who get their hands on it after the fact that can and do.
Glass is a fascinating hobby, and if some of you are like me, you may well end up with a thirst for knowledge about glass, which almost outweighs the lust for the glass!!
When dealing with a collectible area such as this, knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have the greater decision making power you have about your purchases.
I have seen moderately valued glass sold as Loetz for 5 times what it is worth on more occasions than I care to remember. I have also seen great buys on non-Loetz glass made by buyers that obviously knew what they were doing. I have also seen incredibly rare pieces sold by sellers who don't research, to buyers that do, for a mere fraction of their actual value......
The enviable position is to know more than those selling to you!!! All it takes is some study time and a commitment.
I hope this guide is of value to those that read it. Feel free to contact me through ebay if I can be of assistance to you.