Differences Between Original and Replica Tiffany Wall Lamps
Today, decorative lamps are rare and mostly constitute private collections or exist in museums. Today, there is a flood of replica Tiffany wall lamps by the name of the original one. Therefore, you need to identify and differentiate between original and replica Tiffany wall lamps.
The differences between the wall lamps are in the following elements;
- Quality of material
- Quality of craftsmanship
Tiffany wall lamps date back to the Art Nouveau Movement era. They were crafted and handmade by artisans at Tiffany Studios under the leadership of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The iconic stained-glass shades and intricate designs were created by soldering small pieces of stained glass together.
The replica Tiffany wall lamps imitate the original versions and can at times be impossible or difficult to differentiate. The remaining part of this article explains the different characteristics that distinguish original from replica Tiffany wall lamps and provides guidelines on how to identify either of the lamps.
Related reading: Tiffany Lamp vs Tiffany Style Lamp
Different Characteristics of Original and Replica Tiffany Wall Lamps
A proper understanding of the history and significance of the Tiffany lamps helps in appreciating the differences that exist between replicas and original wall lamps.
The lamps were produced by artisans at the Tiffany Studios in the 1900s. The distinguishing feature of the lamps is the elaborate stained-glass shade and intricate designs. The Tiffany lampshades feature floral, geometric, or nature-inspired patterns.
The glass used in making the lamps was hand-selected, cut, and meticulously assembled, and when illuminated, it creates an interplay of colors and light as shown below.
Overall, the original lamps are considered works of art that represent a unique blend of art, history, and craftsmanship. The differences between original and replica Tiffany wall lamps are based on the following:
Quality of Material
The beauty and appearance of the original Tiffany wall lamp are in the quality of the material used in making its parts. The base of an original Tiffany wall lamp is made of bronze. You can check the bottom cap of the lamp for a heavy grey metallic ring of bronze.
Also, you can check the patina on the bronze base and see if the tiny color keeps changing with age.
On the contrary, replicas have a base made mostly of plastic, wood, brass, or zinc. Also, the manufacturers of replica Tiffany wall lamps add a fake patina in an attempt to provide it with an original look.
Other than the base, original Tiffany wall lamps have high-grade stained glass that gives your space a subtle glow.
Also, it is more natural in shape, and you can check by knocking on the glass shade. An original lampshade is not firm after knocking. If it is firm after knocking, then it is a replica.
The original Tiffany wall lampshades have different patterns, including geometric forms. The different forms give the shades a vibrant look with different textures, unlike the replica versions that are pale and greenish.
In the original Tiffany wall lamp, artisans used original methods to embed color in the lamps. By using a cotton swab to rub off the paint, you can verify the lampshade’s authenticity. The swab only rubs off the paint on the replica lamps.
Overall, original Tiffany wall lamps use genuine stained glass, giving it a rich look. The genuine glass pieces are shaped into intricate patterns, making your space alive when illuminated.
On the other hand, replica lamps use glass substitutes for their shades. The substitutes may lack richness and depth in color.
The use of low-quality materials in replica Tiffany wall lamps adversely affects their visual appeal, making them less aesthetically appealing than the original ones.
Quality of Craftsmanship
The artistry in replica and original Tiffany wall lamps is another area where the lamps differ. Original lamps are popular because of unparalleled craftsmanship and punctilious attention to detail.
The exceptional patina, intricate designs, and visually appealing lampshades show the high-quality craftsmanship. The intricate designs of original Tiffany wall lamps are inspired by nature, with different motifs, such as dragonflies, shown below.
The individual glass pieces in original Tiffany wall lamps are handcrafted and carefully soldered to create a visually appealing and seamless lampshade.
The handcrafting technique used in making original Tiffany wall lamps involved high skill and precision and led to the production of unique decorative fixtures. Most of the original Tiffany wall lamps were signed by the artisans.
The hallmarks and tags are engraved on the lamp and may show that your lamp is original. The cuttings and etchings on the lamp base have changed over time making them easy to copy.
Most replicas do not have any markings or may have tags not associated with Tiffany Studios. As much as the hallmarks and tags prove that your lamp is original, some replica lamps also have signs.
Therefore, you should not only rely on this feature while differentiating an original Tiffany wall lamp from a replica. Replica Tiffany wall lamps imitate the ones used in original lamps but fall short in craftsmanship.
As much as they cover the aesthetic designs of original lamps, replica lamps lack the elaborate nature of original lamps. Instead, the designs are simplified to make mass production easier.
Replica Tiffany wall lamps are made using modern manufacturing methods. The methods involve gluing the stained-glass pieces together, resulting in less appealing and less sturdy designs.
The replica Tiffany lamps sacrifice exceptional craftsmanship for mass production and low pricing.
An original Tiffany wall lamp has a beautiful stained-glass shade and can fetch upwards of $10,000 for rarer examples.
You must be careful when spending such large sums of money on the lamps because the wall lamps have been reproduced on a large scale. Although original Tiffany wall lamps are valuable, high-quality replicas also have value.
For example, the wall lamps that were reproduced in 1960 sold for upwards of $5,000. The value is more than most reproductions because of their vivid coloring of the shade, attractiveness, and focus on the Tiffany style.
Therefore, original Tiffany wall lamps are quite expensive and valuable. Their value increases over time, unlike affordable replica lamps with a low value that depreciates over time.
Related reading: Why are Tiffany lamps so valuable?
Proper care ensures that your original Tiffany wall lamps last long. The lamp has a timeless visual appeal and gives your space the necessary warmth and coziness.
Also, the original pieces of glass used in making the lampshades contribute to the lamp's sturdiness and durability. Every piece of glass is small and held together firmly using copper foil, making them hard to break.
Also, the glass pieces are hand-cut and soldered together by hand. On the other hand, replica lamps are not durable because they are made using low-quality materials.
The glass quality is low, and the pieces may be machine-cut. The stained-glass pieces may also be soldered together using a solder that is not lead-based. As a result, the solder does not hold the glass pieces firmly together and can fall off quickly.
The designs of the original Tiffany wall lamps are visually appealing and have a rich historical significance. They embody exquisite aspects of creativity and are aligned with the vision of the artisans at Tiffany Studios.
The original lamps bear a historical significance of their existence since the 1900s. As a result, they are antique and very valuable.
Some of the designs of Tiffany wall lamps are copyrighted. This stresses their unparalleled distinction and value because they cannot be reproduced without prior permission.
Moreover, the original lamps are part of the historical heritage of American art history. Replica Tiffany wall lamps imitate original lamps' designs but do not have the same level of historical significance.
Although they capture the overall look, they lack the originality of the designs of originals.
Related: What Are Tiffany Lamps Made Of?
Original Tiffany wall lamps were made more than 100 years ago. As such, they are limited in quantity and not readily available. You can only find them in museums, antique shops, and during high-end auctions.
On the other hand, replica lamps are readily available in different styles and at low prices. You can find them at online shops and through retailers.
Several features distinguish original Tiffany wall lamps from replicas. It is best if you inspect the lamp carefully to identify the differences. Assess the quality of craft and the quality of materials used.
Original Tiffany wall lamps are expensive and low quality because they are made using high-quality materials and high-level craftsmanship.
However, the replicas are mass-reproduced and not made from the high-grade craftsmanship used to make the originals. They use cheap materials that make the lamps less visually appealing and durable.
As much as you can tell the differences between original and replica Tiffany wall lamps, it is advisable to seek the services of an expert to help with the process.
The experts can inspect the glass, examine the solder marks on the shade, and give the all-important second opinion.