Is It the Real Deal?

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By Dan Rogers

Recently a client brought an item to me that was purchased from a reputable auction house online. The item was a lovely perfume bottle in gold with swirls of color. It had been listed as a “Tiffany Perfume Bottle.” The client had paid about $600 for the piece, a fairly good price if the bottle was authentic.

But on close inspection of the piece, there were several suspect issues that point to the fact that the item might have been an inexpensive reproduction:

  1. Signature – Nearly all authentic Tiffany signatures are counterclockwise.  The signature on this piece was clockwise.       And while that does not disqualify it –it makes it suspect.
  2. Bubble – Upon close examination of the piece I noticed bubbles in the body of the piece that did not show up in the online photos.  While some bubbles may be just part of the glass blowing process, a preponderance of bubbles may indicate a problem.
  3. Color – The color is inconsistent in the piece.  It appears spotty rather than smooth and consistent.
  4. Pontil Mark -The spot on the bottom where the glass separates in the glass blowing process is called the pontil. The online pictures show what appears to be a polished pontil but upon inspection the pontil point was still rough.  Most Tiffany pieces have a polished pontil.

While opinions about this piece’s authenticity may vary, it is recommended that when purchasing an expensive piece of art glass, fine art or other collectable, make sure that you are reasonably sure that the piece is authentic. It’s best to purchase from reputable dealers. Fakes and inexpensive reproductions have flooded the market. In this particular case, the auction house did the right thing and accepted a return of the piece and issued a refund. But at most auctions, you will sign a waiver stating that you are accepting the items in “as is” condition and that the auction house is not liable for incorrect description. In other words buyer beware!