Louis Tiffany introduced his signature Tiffany lamps around 1893, and began commercially producing them in 1895. The term, "Tiffany Lamp," is now sometimes used loosely to refer to a style of lamp which incorporates a leaded glass shade. Authentic Tiffany lamps are considered works of art and are highly valued. Many fraudsters reproduce Tiffany lamps and pass them off as authentic. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between an authentic antique Tiffany lamp and a reproduction.
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Distinguish the type of antique Tiffany lamp you have. Antique Tiffany lamps came in six basic types: chandelier, table, wall sconce, hanging shade, desk and floor.
Look for "favrile," or handcrafted, glass. Antique Tiffany lamp shades were made using handcrafted, lead and blown stained glass. Handcrafted shades will also have some imperfections.
Recognise the design. Many antique Tiffany lamp shades incorporated floral patterns with geometric shapes like squares, triangles and ovals. Two basic designs can be found on Tiffany lamps -- one design incorporated a floral motif all over the lamp shade, the other has a floral motif around the belt of the shade and the rest of the shade is composed of geometric shapes.
Look for dirt in between the cracks of the lamp. Many antique Tiffany lamps will have dust and dirt caught in the crevices. Some fraudsters will try to dust a non-authentic Tiffany lamp, but an appraiser will be able to distinguish new from old dirt.
Hold the lamp base. Authentic bases are heavy and made of bronze. The base is also signed by "Tiffany Studios New York" and feature a model number unique to the specific style of lamp.
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