Louis Comfort Tiffany Lamps have a long and rich history of artisan, stained glass light fixtures. But over the years, the market has become filled with imitations of this beloved brand, and you may still wonder how to identify Tiffany Lamp products.
The following steps should help you learn how to identify Tiffany Lamps. We’ll explore these steps below:
- Spotting a Tiffany Lamp Real
- Verifying Original Tiffany Lamps
- Assessing the Age of a Tiffany Lamp
If your looking for your own lamp check out my guide to Tiffany Style Lamps
Table of Contents
- How to Tell a Real Tiffany Lamp
- You may also like
- How to Spot a Tiffany Lamp
- How to Verify a Tiffany Lamp
- Tiffany Lamp Markings
- How Old Is My Tiffany Lamp?
- How can you tell who made a stained glass lamp?
How to Tell a Real Tiffany Lamp
Recognizing a authentic tiffany lamp shades requires a few steps. You first need to spot a lamp that you believe could be a Tiffany Lamp, then you need to verify its features and lamp base to determine whether it’s legit.
Below, we’ll dive into the verification process, as well as ways to figure out how old a Tiffany Lamp is and how much Dale Tiffany Lamps are worth.
Check out some of the Most Expensive Tiffany Lamps in the World
Tiffany Studio lamps are valued thanks to their artisan materials. Tiffany lamps come with the base made of 100% pure copper and were handmade by many craftsmen. In addition, the glass and material used at the shades are made from original Tiffany glass that has uniquely colored and characterized features.
How to Spot a Tiffany Lamp
The signature design of a Tiffany Studios Lamp usually included a colorful, Art Nouveau stained glass lampshade with black outlines of the glass shapes. Genuine tiffany lamps often had beautiful pictures and designs made into the glass, such as insects, flowers, and shapes. It’s important to note that Tiffany Lamps only include the following types of lamps:
- Table lamps
- Desk lamps
- Buffet lamps
- Accent lamps
- Floor lamps
Therefore, you can narrow down your criteria by looking for these shapes and sizes.
Furthermore, the lamps usually have a dark brown lamp base finished in bronze.
How to Verify a Tiffany Lamp
If you think you’ve spotted a genuine Tiffany Lamp, here’s how to tell a genuine Tiffany Lamp apart from a fake one.
First, you should learn how to identify a genuine Tiffany Lamp base.
Identifying the Base
Examine the lamp base and verify that it has a real bronze finish. Original Tiffany Lamps employed this metallic finish on the resin base.
You’ll be able to tell if this bronze is real if you notice a naturally occurring patina (greenish brown film that results from oxidation). Do note, however, that some replication companies try to mimic this patina, when it’s not in fact real.
Next, take a look at the bottom of the lamp’s base. When you remove the base cap, you should find a heavy grey lead ring. If it’s an imposter Tiffany, this ring won’t be lead, but rather, some other material like plastic, wood, brass, or zinc.
Identifying the Lampshade
Furthermore, there is a distinct difference between the iconic stained glass shade used on authentic Tiffany Lamps and fake ones. If you truly have an authentic Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass design lampshade, it will have a distinct cone-like or globe-like shape to it.
You want to look for an organic quality to the lampshade’s shape, as fake Tiffany Lamps tend to have a more straight-edged, rigid shape to them.
Additionally, you can identify a real Tiffany studios lampshade by its sturdiness and durability. Now, you don’t want to accidentally damage the lamp in the process of checking its sturdiness.
However, you can gently tap the glass at the top of the shade. Try to see if you can notice the sound that follows.
Experts say that if it sounds loose when you tap on it, it’s probably not an authentic Tiffany Lamp.
Verifying the Knob
Another distinguishing aspect of real antique Tiffany Lamps is the type of knob used. The lamp in question should have either a turn-paddle knob (most likely) or pull chain. This isn’t necessarily a sure fire way to know if you have a real Tiffany Lamp, so make sure you check for other qualities, as well.
Verifying the Colors
The colored glass of a Tiffany lampshade will also tell you a lot about its origins. One of the signature colors used on these lampshades was a goldish color. If your lamp has gold pieces, verify that they are not pale or green-tinted. Genuine gold glass pieces should be amber-tinted and have a sheen to them.
Golden glass pieces should have a luminous, amber sheen to be considered genuine. You also want to
keep an eye out for fake lampshades, as they will often have a silver tint to different colors of glass.
Further, a distinguishing part of Tiffany glass is the confetti-like texture used in the colors. It might look like little flecks of color. This element is a really good indicator of a genuine lamp.
Verifying the Glass
And finally, you should verify that the glass itself is of authentic quality. Real Tiffany Lamp glass should have embedded pigments, rather than painted pigments on the outside surface. You can test the pigment by rubbing some nail polish remover on its surface. If it doesn’t rub off, you have authentic glass in your hands.
If, when you are busy identifying your lamp, you notice you notice it is a bit grubby, then I have written detailed step by step instructions on how to clean Tiffany lamps.
Tiffany Lamp Markings
Are all genuine antique Tiffany Lamps marked?
This is a question that many individuals ask, and the answer isn’t always simple. Most authentic Tiffany lamp shades are signed in some way though. The markings on your lamps will depend on when it was made.
A great resource in determining the authenticity of a Tiffany Lamp is the book “The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany” a collaboration by Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen. If nothing else it serves as a great piece of eye candy and is probably my favorite book covering Tiffany’s Lamps. There are some great essays included in the book as well as a comprehensive catalogue of the most important lamps.
Markings on authentic tiffany lamp shades
The markings for the leaded glass shades (if they are signed) are generally etched into the inner metal rim edge of the shade, stamped into the metal. It should nearly always include the words “TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK” in all capital letters, but may state “Tiffany Studios” or “Tiffany and Co.” Upper and lowercase fonts are not genuine signatures. Many of the Tiffany lamp shades feature a model number to the right of the name, which is usually four digits long. It’s usually made up of four digits, although there are some exceptions.
Early examples would normally feature a thin sheet of brass that has been signed with the Tiffany Studio name.
The presence of a bronze metal stamp or pad does not always mean that a lamp is authentic, however. There are many Tiffany lamps on the market that have been reproduced in recent years and these markings and stamps are fairly easy to replicate. You should therefore not rely on them alone in determining the authenticity of a Tiffany Lamp.
Form of the Tiffany Lamp shade
The form of a Tiffany Lampshade is important. They should have cone or globe shaped. A Tiffany Lamp normally comes with a brass base.
Tiffany Lamp designs are largely botanical in nature such as pond lilies, or feature dragonflies, butterflies, spiders and peacock feathers. Geometric patterns are also widely featured.
Due to the age of authentic Tiffany Lampshades there is likely to be some movement in the glass shade. So holding the shade at the top and lightly knocking on the glass can help to indicate you have a real Tiffany shade if there is a slight rattle. Fakes do not tend to rattle as the soldering is newer and firmer.
Much of the glass produced by Tiffany Studios contains specks of color, often known as confetti glass. Gold glass where used should have a translucent amber sheen. Fake shades containing gold glass often have a greenish tint or a very pale translucent gold color.
Tiffany Lamps have the paint embedded into the glass, whereas with some fakes the color can be painted onto the glass. Simply applying a small amount of nail remover to the glass surface can tell if this is the case.
Quality of Glass
Glass palates in some original lamps are less garish than fakes. The color palette of originals is more understated. In other lamps the pattern may have been altered and can appear sloppy compared to the original. The pattern of original lamps tend to be more natural in style than the fakes.
The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass contains an archive of all the glass used by Tiffany Studios, so it is further possible to identify forgeries that are found to have been made with glass not by Tiffany Studios. Fake Tiffany lamps can also suffer from bad paintwork or soldering.
You can check out what real Tiffany Lamps look like in the antique floor lamp identification chart put together by Invaluable.
Markings on the lamp base
An original Tiffany Lamp base should contain a grey metal ring within the base cap. Practically all original lamps feature a hollow bronze base with a heavy ring of lead inside. In a small number of lamps mosaic bases were, however used. Brass, zinc, white metal, plastic or wood bases are common in fake models.
A very small number of Tiffany Lamps have glass bases (signed) while a even smaller number have art pottery bases (both signed).
The bottom of each metal/bronze base or if it has “legs”, will be signed in the vast majority of cases as “TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK”, in all uppercase letters with a model number below that. This mark was in use from around 1900 through 1928, although there are a few that appear on his later lights. The hallmark will be etched into the metal ring. The signature should be legible and visible unless the base plate was replaced. Occasionally, one will notice a mark from one of Tiffany’s other businesses:
- “TGDCO” – Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company,” 1892-1900
- Tiffany Furnaces, Inc., (1902-1919)
- Louis C. Tiffany Furnaces, Inc., (1920-28)
Tiffany also utilized all blown glass on several of his bases, albeit it is not very popular. The words “L.C.T. Favrile” may be etched into the glass at the bottom of a genuine Tiffany glass lamp base. Forgers can easily produce this mark, so these foundations must be meticulously verified. Some bases are not signed as well. As a result, they must all be authenticated.
Tiffany Studios occasionally utilized pottery as a base. On the bottom of each, under the “LCT” monogram and perhaps a model number has been inscribed by hand into the clay before the object was “fired.” Because they’re uncommon and not particularly popular among collectors, these ceramic bases are rather costly. Some pottery bases are not signed entirely, so they must be authenticated by a professional.
I found this online appraisal service when doing my research (not an affiliate) –https://mearto.com/antiques-curio?
It is worth posting a photo of your lamp or the lamp you wish to buy on the Facebook Group “TIFFANY STUDIOS COLLECTORS & FANS”. There are some very knowledgeable people on there who should be able to give you an initial indication as to whether the lamp is authentic.
Most real Tiffany Lamps feature a turn-paddle knob to operate them. There are a small number that use a chain pull instead.
Are Tiffany lamps numbered?
It’s a question that has puzzled collectors and enthusiasts for years. While there is no definitive answer, the general consensus seems to be that not all Tiffany lamps are numbered, but certain series and models are.
What do the numbers mean? Tiffany lamp numbers can be interpreted in a few different ways. Some believe that the numbers indicate the order in which the lamps were made, while others believe that they indicate the cost of the lamp when it was originally sold. Still others believe that they indicate the level of detail and complexity of the design.
How can you tell if a Tiffany lamp is numbered? Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way to tell just by looking at the lamp. The best way to find out is to check the Tiffany Company’s archives, which are available online.
Antique Lamp Identification Chart
As far as I’m aware there are not any antique lamp identification chart or antique floor lamp identification chart specific to Tiffany Lamps.
How Old Is My Tiffany Lamp?
In addition to determining the authenticity of a supposed Tiffany Lamp, you can also do some work to figure out the age of Tiffany Studios Lamps.
If you have determined that your lamp is genuine, first note that the first genuine Tiffany Lamp was only made as far back as 1893, with some of the youngest genuine models made in 1930. So, if someone tells you that they’re selling an “authentic” Tiffany Lamp made in, say, 1880, it’s not possible.
If you want to know the exact year, however, you may need to do some more research. Check the model/serial number at the bottom of the base, and see if there is a maker’s mark or something that you can use to trace it back to its origins. You may not be able to track down the exact origins, but it’s worth a try.
How can you tell who made a stained glass lamp?
Do you think your reproduction lamps might be from a maker other than Tiffany?
There are a few ways to determine the maker of a stained glass lamp.
One way is to look at the design of the lamp. Is it simple or intricate?
Another way is to look at the type of glass used in the lamp. Colored and textured glass can be used to create beautiful designs, and each type of glass has a certain look to it. Also, the maker might have a signature on the lamp.
If there is no signature, an experienced glass artist can usually determine who made a particular design if they are familiar with the style of other designers who work in stained glass.
If you’ve already purchased or found a lamp that you think may be made by one of these artists, here is an easy way you can find out if the artist was really responsible for its design.
First, look at the colors used in the lamp. If they are vibrant and bright, it’s more likely that the glass came from Murano Island than any of the other locations where large quantities of glass were manufactured.
Next, consider the design or pattern of the lamp. Carefully examine how it’s arranged and compare that to lamps that you know were made by a particular designer such as Daum. If you find similarities between it and other designs, chances are the artist was involved in its creation.
If your lamp is unsigned, here’s an easy way to determine the maker. Take a picture of the lamp and post it on one of the many stained glass forums that are available online. Chances are, within minutes someone will be able to tell you who made it and even provide a link to where you can buy a similar lamp.