Handel Parrot Shade - Copied in Four SizesBy Mark Chervenka
Handel Parrot Shade - Copied in Four Sizes
More reproductions of Handel's parrot reverse painted lamp shades are coming into the market. The new shades were made in four sizes: 16-, 14-, 12- and 8-inch diameters. New shades are handpainted in China and sell for $18 to $80 depending on size.
The original reverse painted parrot shade (Fig. 2) by the Handel Company was introduced sometime during 1921 as catalog design #6874. It features two parrots on a branch on the front side and a parrot in flight on the back side (copied on the reproductions shown here). Handel #6874 was expressly for an 18-inch domical shade, the design carefully proportioned to fill the entire shade. An original #6874 with a proper base can sell for $16,000 to $22,000.
Here are some characteristics of genuine Handel reverse painted lamps to help you separate old from new:
Marks Although the majority of authentic Handel shades are signed, marks alone should never be used as a single test of authenticity. Shades, bases and parts with forged and faked Handel marks have been widespread in the market for many years. All Handel marks – originally cast, die stamped, painted, ink stamped–have been forged including the fabric tags. Some of the most confusing pieces are genuinely vintage shades and parts by other manufacturers that have recently applied Handel marks.
Kiln Fired Authentic Handel reverse painted glass shades were fired one or more times in a kiln, or oven, to permanently fuse the paint to the glass. Paint on virtually all new shades is not fired and not fused to the glass. If you can dent the paint with a fingernail, it is not fired paint. New shades are frequently found with chipped and scratched paint, areas where paint has bubbled and sometimes include a strong odor of paint. (Note: Never scrape, scratch, dab with acetone or perform any other tests to a shade without the express permission of the seller).
One of the most obvious features of new unfired paint is a milky haze on the inside of most new reverse painted shades (Fig. 6). No similar coating is ever found in vintage fired shades. The fired on painted decorations inside vintage reverse painted lamps are sharp and clear (Fig. 7).
Surface Texture The outside surface of the majority of authentic reverse painted table-sized Handel shades have a textured surface. This surface is commonly referred to as "chipped ice" or simply "chipped" (Figs. 8-10). It is a frosted surface with a shallow irregular texture resembling chipped ice. It was created at Handel by first coating the outside of the glass shade with glue. The shade was then placed in a kiln. As the glue heated it shrank, pulling away bits and pieces of the glass surface.
Most new shades have a smooth frosted outside surface but not the unique "chipped" texture. While a chipped surface texture is not a guarantee a shade is Handel–other vintage makers used a similar effect–a chipped surface is generally a positive sign of age. The exact chipping, though, can vary from shade to shade from a single manufacturer as well as shades from different vintage manufacturers. Generally, excepting a few very rare shades, all reverse painted table-sized shades attributed to Handel should have a texture on the outside surface. If not, ask for a detailed explanation of why not.
No Molds Seams The glass blanks used in authentic reverse painted table-sized Handel shades never have mold seams. Blanks were carefully rotated in the mold and hand worked to avoid seams. Most glass blanks used in new reverse painted shades have obvious mold seams. Mold seams in new shades are most visible around the lower rim but may appear anywhere between the top and bottom rims (Fig. 11).
Interlocking Rings Excepting smaller boudoir lamps, authentic table-sized Handel reverse painted all glass shades have an interlocking two-pieces metal rim around the hole, or aperture(Figs. 12-13), in the top of the glass shade. This rim is made of two separate pieces of metal patented by Handel in 1910. The two pieces fit above and below the aperture to reinforce and strengthen the glass. With the metal ring on, the glass shade could safely rest on the flared rim of the heat cap (Figs. 13-14). All table-sized electric Handel reverse painted shades with an aperture opening are supported in this manner. Most Handel interlocking metal aperture rings on electric table-sized reverse glass shades made after 1910 are stamped on the top surface "Handel Lamps PAT'D NO 979664." Most, but not all, vintage reverse table-sized lamp shades with aperture openings by other manufacturers also use some type of metal rings in their apertures.
The smaller boudoir-sized shades with an aperture are an exception to the general Handel rule. Those shades were supported on an elongated harp. An aperture disc, or plate, is attached at the top of the harp to support the shade. A heat cap above clamps the shade between the cap and aperture disc (Fig. 16).
The new parrot reverse painted shades in this article, as well as many other new shades, are not supplied with metal rings in the aperture. The great majority of new reverse painted shades imitating Handel and other vintage manufacturers, are supported by a flat disc which fits under the shade opening. The new shade is clamped between the aperture disc below and a heat cap above.
Aperture Openings Some reproductions of Handel designs, like the piece in Fig. 18, appear on new shades without an opening in the shade. All original Handel one-piece 16- and 18-inch glass shades with reverse painted decoration have an opening in the top of the shade. If it doesn't have an opening, it is either new or possibly a vintage shade by another maker such as Pairpoint which did make shades with closed tops.
Shade Sizes and Shape Many reproduction Handel shades are not the correct size or shape for the decorations they carry. Original Handel designs were created for specific shades. By contrast, the same design appears on all four sizes of the reproduction parrot shade. The reproduction design is simply scaled down to fit the smaller surface area of the smaller shades. Consult a good reference book such as Handel Lamps, Painted Shades & Glassware by De Falco, Hibel and Hibel to see which Handel designs were used on what shapes and sizes of shades.
Matching Patina Metal bases and hardware on original Handel lamps were carefully made with matching finishes. The patina of the light bulb socket, for example, matched the finish on the interlocking aperture rings, heat cap, finial and base. There are a few exceptions with the very smallest lamps, such as the egg-shaped boudoirs, but in general, all metal surfaces should have matching finishes. Repaired or replaced parts may explain different finishes, but such parts should be identified by ethical sellers and claimed as original parts.
Quality Reproduction reverse painted shades don't approach the quality of vintage originals. New paint is thin, weak-colored, shallow and lacks detail. Glass blanks used for new shades frequently include bubbles and streaks. But since those features are often hard to detect or describe without a firsthand examination, it is best to use specific features of construction and decoration when discussing a purchase by email, phone or photos alone. Quality is often subjective and can be debated. Mold seams, aperture openings, shade texture and other physical features are either present or absent.