Saleroom Life

by Sheffield Auction Gallery

Month: October 2016


The Loetz company was established in 1840 by Johann Loetz in the Czech Republic and after his heirs sold it on, it eventually came under the leadership of Max Ritter von Spaun in 1879 who guided it to international fame and recognition. During the 1880s and 1890s, Loetz iridescent glass designs typified the Art Nouveau style.

Often referred as ‘The Austrian Tiffany’, Loetz was actually just producing Tiffanystyle glass made and marketed at much lower prices after realising there was a real market for it. Indeed some of their work was barely distinguishable from the real Tiffany available at the time. Tiffany patented their iridescent favrile glass designs in 1894 and Loetz was not far behind obtaining patents for their iridescent glass with a ‘metallic shimmer’ in 1895 and 1896.

Loetz, however, didn’t want to be merely remembered or acknowledged for making excellent copies of others’ work and set about creating its own designs of which their most famous and highly-acclaimed series, Phanomen, was to be born.

Phanomen pieces are characterised by their trailed combed threads or bands, often referred to as rippled or featherlike and their metallic iridescence. This clever design, where by hot glass threads were wrapped around the hot molten base and then pulled onto the object’s surface to achieve this wave effect while the glass was still malleable, was patented in 1898.

A Loetz Medici Glass Vase with Silver Overlay

A Loetz Medici Glass Vase with Silver Overlay

Other key characteristics of Loetz design include blue colour iridescence as well as what is often described as a gleaming oil-on-water effect and many of their motifs follow stylized Art Nouveau examples such as plants, feathers and nature in general.

The company become insolvent in 1911, but was re-established in 1913 as Loetz-Witze until closing in 1948.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website


Mauchline is a town in East Ayrshire in Scotland which became famous in the 1800s for the production of box-ware, now commonly referred to as Mauchlineware. Mauchlineware was souvenir ware made from sycamore trees. This Scottish souvenir wood ware was exported all over the world from Europe to Australia and America.

Mauchlineware was produced in the area from the 1820s and was made by a number of different companies but primarily and most successfully by W & A Smith until a disastrous fire in 1933 engulfed their factory and they never recovered enough to produce again. During the late 1800s, W & A Smith were the largest employer in the region employing over 400 people.

The success really came from the trend in the late 18th century for snuff-taking. Snuff boxes had been gold and silver, tortoiseshell and papier-mâché but the wooden ones failed to keep the tobacco fresh. This was all to change when James Sandy perfected the integral wooden hinge making wooden snuff boxes airtight and so began a new industry in handmade wooden boxes.
All manner of small and later large items were made in Mauchlineware from cigar cases, bookmarks and pin cushions to vases, jewellery boxes and other household objects. An incredible range of boxes including the aforementioned snuff boxes were produced in every shape and size one could wish for.

Designs were transfer printed and then varnished; some receiving up to 26 layers of varnish and the pictures transferred were popular landscape scenes, famous landmarks and attractions from across the world. Mauchlineware was specifically aimed at the tourist market, both domestic now the British people were travelling further by rail, but also with the export market in mind.

Mount Washington Glass

Mount Washington was established by William Libbey in 1837 and after moving to New Bedford in 1870 began to produce American art glass for which it was hugely successful. It made some remarkable ranges and patented many types of glass.

One such glass was Burmese glass, with a satin or plush finish. This finish was created by exposing the glass to acid and it is unique in its creamy yellow and peach colourings. The peach colouring comes from a second firing when the base of the piece stays cooler and areas at the top are heated to such an extent that the peach colour reverts back to yellow giving a distinctive two-tone effect.

The creation and recipe of Burmese glass was patented by Mount Washington in 1885 and early pieces are usually very simple. Over 300 hundred shapes were created in the Burmese range and by 1888 the shapes and decoration had become more elaborate. Decoration usually consisted of enamelled or applied patterns.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

In 1886 the company patented a very simple glass called ‘Peachblow’, sometimes referred to as Peachskin, which again had an attractive two-tone effect this time in pinks and greys. Unfortunately it never had the commercial success of the Burmese range and was only produced for two years, ironically making it is very collectable today.

One of the other ranges Mount Washington is most famous for is Amberina, often called simply Amber-Rose. The fame is due to a lawsuit with the New England Glass Company who also produced glass in this style and the two companies’ work is very difficult to distinguish between. Amberina is a clear coloured glass with added gold to create brilliant amber to red shading.
Art glass of all types is very popular in the salerooms today and Mount Washington ranges should be on everyone’s shopping list.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

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