Thursday, January 9, 2014

How to Spot Vintage Light Fixtures and Art Glass

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Ever walk into an antiques store, find a gorgeous light fixture or pair of wall sconces, and then look at the price tag? Eyes bulging you see that the asking price is $5,000! Your eyes see it, but your brain can't process it. All you're thinking is, "why the hell is that $5,000?" Well, it has to do with the quality of the materials, makers, and handmade details. Consider these 3 questions the next time you spot that $5,000 heart-stopper.

1). What is the light fixture made of? If it's heavy, chances are it's made of brass, bronze, or cast iron - all quality materials not frequently used in contemporary light fixtures. It's these heavy metals that contribute to the light fixture's craftsmanship and longevity.

2). Is there a lot of detail? Look carefully for carvings, etchings, castings, and wrought decoration. Be sure to look especially close to decoration cast into the metals as well. A crisp and clear casting speaks of high-quality metals and production. Keep in mind that if the decoration isn't symmetrical, chances are it was made by hand.

3). Are there glass shades on the light fixture? Any glass shades with some weight to them are great identifiers of a high-quality piece. If the shades are brilliantly colored, spotted, or etched with a design you probably found something uniquely rare. These shades are often referred to as art glass - a very desirable, handmade piece of functional art!

Remember these simple questions the next time you find yourself shopping in a vintage or antique store. They will help you spot a one-of-a-kind gem and remind you that if it's priced high, it might be a worthwhile buy.

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