Published: June 18, 2002
Tiffany Goldfish Vase Swims to $532,000 at Sotheby’s
NEW YORK CITY – On June 11 at Sotheby’s, a new world auction record for a Tiffany glass vessel was established when an exceedingly rare Tiffany Favrile aquamarine Goldfish vase, one of only two known, sold for $532,000. The previous record for a Tiffany glass vessel was $250,000 paid for a Tiffany Favrile glass Floriform vase on November 18, 1994, at Sotheby’s.
Two determined bidders on the phone vied for the tour de force of American glass making from the Tiffany Studios driving the price far above the presale $100/150,000 estimate. The vase, which was purchased by an American private collector, was included in a sale of Twentieth Century Decorative Works of Art that totaled $6,714,710.
The form, an aquamarine glass vase incorporating vegetation and sea life, is so rare that, according to Barbara Deisroth, director of the firm’s Twentieth Century Decorative Works of Art Department, only one other example is known and it is in The Hawarth Art Gallery in Accrington, England. That example, along with an entire collection of Tiffany material, was deeded to the gallery by Joseph Briggs, Tiffany’s foreman and the manager of his factory for 30 years who was born in Accrington.
While the present vase, which has a solid bottom depicting the marine scene, was made according to paperweight making techniques, what would be a flaw in a paperweight — bubbles of air — here adds to the naturalistic effect as bubbles rising to the surface of the water.
Aquamarine vases were a late development of the Tiffany Studios, produced between 1905 and 1915. They are among the most innovative and remarkable of the glass produced at the studios. Most examples that have recently appeared on the market depict underwater vegetation encased within heavy walls of pale green tinted glass. The rarest examples, including the present vase, are those that incorporate sea life as well.
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