Pontius Pilate, 21st century version:
“What is truth?” said jesting Donaldus Pilate.
“’Truth isn’t truth’1 because ‘over time, truth develops’2 and results in ‘alternative facts.’3”
- Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s TV lawyer
- Jay Sekulow, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer
- Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President
I have managed to get through two posts on antique stained glass without complaining, bloviating or pontificating. Someone noticed this beatific attitude and wondered if I, as a curmudgeon, was ill. Not to worry. A three word phrase has gotten me back to angst and teeth-gnashing:
“Tiffany style lamp”
Why would something as decorative and pleasant as Louis Comfort Tiffany’s stained glass get me so worked up? Well, peruse any antique or collectable store or any online service like Ebay, Overstock or Wayfair and you will find this overworked and misused phrase on anything resembling a lamp with colored glass in it.
Tiffany style lamp?
Tiffany style lamp?
Tiffany style lamp?
So what do I, as the main bloviator, pontificator, and stained glass snob, deem a “Tiffany style lamp?” It would be a reproduction of one of the lamps in an official Tiffany collection. Specifically, it would be one of the lamps in the collection of Dr. Egon Neustadt and his wife Hildegard.
Never heard of Egon Neustadt? Dr. Neustadt, an immigrant from Austria, purchased his first Tiffany lamp in 1935 for $12.50 (!) and went on to amass the largest and most comprehensive Tiffany lamp collection ever assembled. See the Neustadt Collection. Exhibits of the lamps are shown at the Queens Museum in New York City and travel to other museums throughout the United States. If you love Tiffany lamps, you should go to one of these exhibits and also get Dr. Egon Neustadt’s book The Lamps of Tiffany.
Tiffany style lamp?
Posted in Uncurmudgeonized
Tagged angst, antique stained glass lamps, art, bloviation, Dr. Egon Neustadt, Louis Comfort Tiffany, pet peeves, pontification, Queens Museum, rants, stained glass snob, Tiffany style lamp
The next three pieces of antique stained glass sit in our dining room. The Chandelier and accompanying grape and leaves window appear, at first blush, to be made by the same maker. In fact, I bought the chandelier (which I believe dates back to the 1920’s or 1930’s) first and then, twenty five years later, came across the window. Both come from the Northeast (Pennsylvania and Ohio, respectively) and are close enough in design to be a match.
The third item in the dining room is a stained glass fireplace screen dating to the 1880’s.
It has chunk glass and jeweled bevels intermixed on the lower right mixed with stained glass mostly on the upper left. It sits in an ornate brass frame. Here is some detail from the fireplace screen:
A similar piece appears on page 3 of Great Glass in American Architecture by H. Weber Wilson.
If you love (or just like) antique stained glass, here are a few websites of dealers who I have found to have exceptional pieces:
Wooden Nickel Antiques, Cincinnati, OH http://woodennickelantiques.net/stained-glass/
Soll’s Antiques, Camden, ME https://www.ebay.com/usr/cantiq307
American Antique Stained Glass Windows, somewhere in northeastern Oregon http://www.antiqueamericanstainedglasswindows.com/
Oley Valley Architectural Antiques Inc., Denver, PA https://www.oleyvalley.com/antiques/windows-stained-beveled-glass/
I have a small, but interesting, collection of antique stained glass which I have collected over the last thirty years. Although amounting to only seven pieces (five windows, a chandelier and a lamp), the collection is eclectic and each piece has a history. For example, as I will explain, the chandelier and one window go together even though they were bought about 25 years apart.
Just like my earlier post on the decay of post offices, railroad stations and light houses (see Going Postal), antique American stained glass suffers from neglect, urban renewal (or urban removal, as I call it) and changing modern tastes. The mid-20th century modernistic movement was a direct attack on all things ornate – whether Victorian, Art Deco or Art Nouveau. As a result, many wonderful pieces of antique stained glass found their way to the garbage heap. Fortunately, pickers, collectors and preservers managed to keep others from destruction.
One of the first pieces I collected came from the aptly named Thieves Market in Alexandria, Virginia. The entranceway greeter was an old fortune teller machine and the rest of the “market” was a labyrinthine maze of dead ends and rabbit holes. When Thieves Market closed for business, they sold the stained glass hanging above their auction floor, among them two pieces from a Victorian house dating from the late 19th century in Northeast Washington, DC. I did snag the back door transom (shown) but passed on the accompanying front door transom because it said “704” and I never lived at a residence numbered 704.
The next piece (actually a set of windows) came from an antique dealer from Ohio who dealt mainly in jewelry, She bought the matched windows as a present for her daughter but the windows did not fit in her daughter’s house (fortunately for me).
Here is some of the detail from one of the windows:
The dealer said the windows were from a house in Cincinnati in the early 20th century and mentioned Third Street Studios. Thanks to Wooden Nickel Antiques in Cincinnati, Ohio, I found out that Third Street Studios is not the name of a single glass studio but a name coined in the 1980’s by a dealer for stained glass makers from the Third Street area of Cincinnati dating to the late 19th and early 20th century. The matched set was originally placed as a hinged set in the dining room of an elaborate house at the turn of the 20th century. The hinges and locks have been removed but you can still see where they existed. You can find more on Third Street Studios in Cincinnati Magazine May 2002 starting on page 80.
(to be continued…)