Rene Lalique: Fakes, Imitations, Forged MarksBy

Lalique: Fakes, Imitations, Forged Marks

Rene Lalique (1860-1945) was one of the most successful artist/designers of all time. He was successful designing jewelry, wallpaper, textiles, and commercial packaging but it is his glass wares that brought him the most fame. Lalique began commercial production of his own glass around 1905 and carried on his work until his death in 1945. The glass business was carried on by his son Marc (d. 1977), then his granddaughter, Marie-Claude Lalique (d. 2003). This article will compare authentic Lalique glass and its marks to present day and earlier imitations, fakes and copies and reproductions. This will include an explanation of original and forged marks, typical design features, production details and ingredients in the glass.

Fake and Forged Marks

Before Rene Lalique's death in 1945, the initial R was used in virtually all marks, i.e. "R. Lalique, France". After 1945, most all of the same marks continued to be used except they now appeared with the initial R removed, i.e. "Lalique, France". The presence of the single letter R can add hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars to a price. This is why Lalique marks are forged more often than almost any other marks on glass with the possible exception of American cut glass. There is such a huge variety of forged Lalique marks it is impossible to list them all. Typical examples of authentic marks and common forgeries are shown below.

Many persons believe that only sand blasted or acid etched marks can be forged but this is wrong. Forged marks are also cast in the mold and can appear as either raised lettering or incised (intaglio) lettering. Another method is to take a mold of an authentic mark, make a resin casting in the mold and apply the molded copy. Regardless of how they are made, buyers should be aware that molded marks can be forged and are certainly no guarantee of age or authenticity.

The most commonly seen forgeries, though, are engraved and etched marks. These are cheap and inexpensive and require little skill. Engraved marks are commonly made with diamond tip pencils, rotary grinders and pens with vibrating metal tips. Most forged etched marks are made with rubber stamps and acid. More ambitious etched marks are produced with stencils and sandblasting.

As a general rule, Lalique glass marks before 1945 must include the initial R to be authentic. Rene Lalique died in 1945 and after his death the R was dropped. Many of the pre-1945 marks continued to be used after 1945 with the initial R removed. Be alert for marks on genuine Lalique made after 1945 that have been "enhanced" by the addition of the letter R which would indicate an earlier production and add greatly to the value. Before 1945, France may or may not appear in a mark. After 1945, however, France virtually always appears in all marks,

Generally, all authentic pre-1945 Lalique markings are very small, rarely over 1/8" high. The lettering style is very plain with all letters being the same width and no decorative flourishes at the end of the letters. Marks on genuine pieces appear in inconspicuous places like bottom rims or worked into the design.

Forged marks, in contrast, are made to stand out and be seen so they are frequently placed in a prominent position and are relatively large, up to 1/2" high. Forged marks frequently use fancy and decorative styles of lettering.

Many forged marks also include phrases or wording never used in originals. "Made in France" for example, has never been used in any Lalique marks either before or after 1945. "Paris" was never used with the word "France" and "Rene" was never spelled out on ordinary production pieces. Nor did Lalique ever use numbers to indicate limited edition series such as "NO. XX/XXX" or "#XX of XXX".

Like any general rules, there are certain exceptions and all those known are noted. You also need to review what new products were introduced by Cristal Lalique. For example, a limited group of the hood ornaments—or car mascots—made from old molds do include the R. Lalique molded mark. Most of these pieces were made in 1950 and were marketed as paperweights. In the late 1970s, the St. Christopher ornament was reissued with an R. Lalique molded mark. But all these and other post-1945 pieces can be detected by the difference in the glass used which is discussed next.

Type of Glass

Before 1945, Lalique glass had a lead oxide content of about 12%, known by the French term demi cristal. After 1945, the amount of lead oxide was doubled to 24% which qualified it under French law to be called full cristal. The higher lead content makes the glass since 1946 brighter, heavier and more transparent than the pre-1945 glass. This is relatively easy to see with the unaided eye but can also be tested under long wave black light. Colorless (clear) Lalique glass made before 1945 glows yellow under long wave black light. Colorless Lalique glass made after 1945 glows blue-white or blue. But don't use black light alone as a test for authenticity. Some ca. 1920s Lalique imitations by contemporary manufacturers also fluoresce yellow and may have a forged Lalique mark. Nearly all the present day imitations and look-alikes, however, such as frosted glass from the Czech Republic, have no reaction under long wave black light or glow blue-white or blue.

Cutting and Finishing

Ornamental cutting is rarely found in genuine pre-1945 Lalique. Cutting was widely used, however, on Eastern European glass where much of the imitation Lalique was made. Large broad facets (see Figs. 11, 17, 19) around the base and top rim almost always point to eastern European products from the Czech Republic, Romania, Turkey or Yugoslavia.

Summary

In its nearly 100 year history, Lalique has produced tens of thousands of pieces of glass. There is always the possibility of some minor unknown exceptions to the general rules of authentication. Do not use any one single rule to determine age or authenticity such as marking or black light alone. Use a broad range of facts and evidence to determine age.

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Fig. 1 New perfume

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Fig. 2 Lalique perfume

Figs. 1-2 The shape of this new perfume bottle is a close copy of the Lalique original shown in Fig. 2. Lalique's designs have been copied and imitated since the 1920s. The new bottle was made in Taiwan in 1993; the only mark is a paper label.

Radiator Ornaments

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Fig. 3 Imitation Victoire made in the Czech Republic beginning in the mid-1990s. Frosted clear glass, 10 inches across. Attached to a separate black glass base. No permanent mark. An obvious mold seam runs vertically through face and along top of hair.

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Fig. 4 Genuine Lalique Victoire made ca. 192's-1930s. About 10 inches across, permanently marked with molded letters "R. LALIQUE FRANCE." Mold seam virtually invisible. This example is made of frosted clear glass.

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Fig. 5

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Fig. 6

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Fig. 7

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Fig. 8

Figs. 5-8 Lalique's original Longchamps radiator ornament, or car mascot, was named for the French racetrack Longchamps. Originals (Fig. 7) are marked "R. LALIQUE FRANCE" in molded letters. A close copy (Fig. 5) has been made in the Czech Republic for many years. The new Czech example shown here is 5 x 6". It is made in frosted clear glass and mounted on a black glass base; no permanent marking. A contemporary lookalike (Fig. 6) was sold in the 1930s by Persons-Majestic Corp. of Worcester, Massachusetts. It is shown mounted in a Packard radiator base. Fig. 8 shows the obvious mold seam running through the new Czech piece. Seams are virtually invisible in original pre-WW II Lalique mascots. Fig. 6 photo, reprinted from The Classic Car, Winter 1964

Vases

The new frosted glass vases shown on pages 4 and 5 are commonly found with forged Lalique marks. Forgeries may be acid stamped, engraved or molded. Many persons incorrectly think a molded Lalique mark is a guarantee of authenticity-it is NOT. Examples of forged molded marks are shown later in this article.

Although most of the vases shown are currently being made, many have been in and out of production since the 1920s. Be alert for pieces made in the 1920's with natural wear with a recently added forged mark. A current wholesale catalog page showing some of the new Czech glass is shown on page 5.

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Fig. 9 Consolidated Glass Co.

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Fig. 10 Lalique

Figs. 9-10 Lalique's Art Deco designs were copied throughout the world. In America, Consolidated Glass Company sold a Love-Bird pattern, Fig. 9, that was a virtual twin of Lalique's Perruches (parakeet) shown in Fig. 10.

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Fig. 11 New 8½-inch vase

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Fig. 12 Detail of vase in Fig. 10.

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Fig. 13 Original Lalique Bacchantes

Figs. 11-13 The vase in Fig. 11 is new from Czech Republic. Note cut facets around the top and base. Such facets are typical of Czech glass but virtually never found on genuine Lalique. The vase in Fig. 11 is made in a variety of colors as well as frosted clear crystal shown here. Most imitations with nudes are loosely based on the original Lalique vase titled Bacchantes shown in Fig. 13.

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Fig. 14

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Fig. 15

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Fig. 16

Figs. 14-16 Some pieces with the cherry pattern. Fig. 14. Arc found with molded R. Lalique forged marks in the bottom. Like most of the frosted glass often passed for Lalique. The new vase has a prominent mold seam shown in close up, Fig. 15. The new 8" vase has considerable depth to the pattern but the original Lalique in Fig. 16 is much more realistic and has a stronger 3-D effect.

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Fig. 17 New 5-inch vase

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Fig. 18 New 8-inch vase

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Fig. 19 New 7-inch vase

Figs. 17-19 The vase in Fig. 17 is frequently found with some type of forged Lalique mark. The piece shown is ca. mid-1990s but the mold has been in and out of production from the 1920s to the present. Note the cut facets in the bases and rims of Fig. 17 and 19 which is typical of Czech production, not Lalique.

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Fig. 20 New 10-inch vase

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Fig. 21 New 8-inch vase

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Fig. 22 New 8-inch vase

Figs. 20-22 Three new pieces from the Czech Republic which frequently carry forged Lalique marks. All three pieces in Figs. 20-22 have obvious mold seams.

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Fig. 23 Catalog page of new Czech frosted glass.

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Fig. 24 New 8" vase made in the Czech Republic.

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Fig. 25 New 6" vase made in the Czech Republic.

Miscellaneous Items

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Fig. 26 Imitation from 1960s.

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Fig. 27 Imitation from 1960s.

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Fig. 28 Original Lalique Rosace.

Figs. 26-28The Lalique look-alikes in Figs. 26 and 27 were first sold ca. 1960s to mid-1970s. The shallow bowl in Fig. 26 is from an antique reproduction catalog; 9 1/4" diameter in a frosted finish with pale blue opalescence. It is marked in molded raised letters "Made in France". These same pieces have also been found marked "G. Vallon". Wholesale prices were $2.50 to $7 depending on whether a piece was clear or opalescent. Fig. 28 is an original Lalique 12" plate in the Rosace (rose window) pattern.

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Fig. 29 New 14-inch dia. ceiling shade.

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Fig. 30 New 12-inch sconce.

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Fig. 31 New 17-inch lamp marked in raised molded letters, "Made in France."

Figs. 29-31 The new lighting shown in Figs. 29-31 is frosted clear glass. The designs are a general Art Deco style that is often sold with forged marks or offered as "unmarkcd" Lalique. Note that the lamp in Fig. 31 is marked with raised molded letters "Made in France." No authentic Lalique, new or old, was marked "Made in France." The typical authentic mark is simply "France," not Made in France.

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Fig. 32Genuinely old frosted glass from other manufacturers is often found with forged Lalique marks. The cigarette holder and tray above and the bird figure were made ca. 1920s in Czechoslovakia. Both pieces now carry a large forged R. LALIQUE FRANCE acid stamped mark.

Perfumes

There are two basic types of collectible Lalique perfume bottles: empty bottles sold directly by Lalique and other retail outlets, and custom designed bottles made for commercial perfume companies such as Coty or large retail stores such as Saks Fifth Ave. Most pre-1945 custom bottles have a raised molded Lalique mark. Bottles sold empty before 1945 generally carry either a raised molded Lalique mark or an engraved mark or both. Many of the pre-1945 bottles sold empty have matching engraved "control numbers" on the stopper and bottle (but not always). Fakes of Lalique perfume bottles have been made for years. In Lalique Glass author Nicholas Dawes quotes a 1928 writer, Miguel Zamacois, who describes the flood of copies made in mid-1920s as "blatant forgeries and cynically improvised imitations" of Rene Lalique's originals. Many copies, both old and new, carry forged marks. A number of Lalique's perfumes have been in constant production since the 1920s. Be alert for recently made genuine Lalique bottles which have a forged letter R added to the factory mark to suggest the piece is pre-WWII, not post WWII.

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Fig. 33 New bottle made in Taiwan.

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Fig. 34 Mold seam.

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Fig. 35 Lalique Deux Fleurs (two flowers)

Figs. 33-35 Lalique's Deux Flours (Two Flowers, also called Deux Marguerites) was introduced ca. 1935 as an empty dressing table bottle. It is still in production. A nearly exact copy is also made in Taiwan—note the different stopper. The Taiwan copy is poor quality glass with obvious mold seams (Fig. 34). Watch for forged marks on the Taiwan copies, old bottles without stoppers fitted with Taiwan stoppers and altered marks on new bottles.

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Fig. 36

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Fig. 37

The new perfume in Fig. 36 with the lily of the valley floral stopper is made in Japan. It commonly found with forged Lalique marks. The genuine Lalique lily of the valley (Clairfontaine) perfume is shown in Fig. 37. The genuine bottle has been in production since the 1920s.

Authentic Marks

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Pre-1945 molded Authentic molded marks are sans-serif, block style letters. France may or may not be included. Authentic molded marks appear primarily in pressed glass. Almost all molded marks in pressed glass appear as raised letters above the surface. Shown as line drawing above, photo below. Note block-style letters.

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Pre-1945 molded Some marks are molded in reverse. The raised glass letters in this example are molded on the bottom of a plate.

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Typical molded marks with double-tailed Q.

Pre-1945 molded Some molded marks have a double-tailed Q. Marks with double-tailed Qs, like other molded marks, appear as raised lettering. France may or may not appear.

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Pre-1945 molded This is one of the exceptions to the general rule that pre-1945 authentic marks should include an R. This authentic molded mark, the so-called "long L," never appeared with an R. This molded mark was used far less often than the standard block letter molded mark. It is most commonly seen on perfume bottles and dresser items.

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Pre-1945 engraved Engraved marks were usually applied to moldblown, not pressed pieces. Although there is considerable variation among genuine engraved marks, almost all have the same general appearance as the example shown above. Authetic marks may or may not include an order, catalog, design or merchant number.

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Pre-1945 wheel-cut Wheel-cut marks were made with the edge of a small grinding wheel. Letters made with grinding wheels appear as short straight lines as seen in this typical example. Wheel-cut marks were first used in the 1930s.

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Pre-1945 etched Genuine R. Lalique France etched marks were made by sandblasting through a stencil. Genuine marks are characterized by uniform gaps in letters left by stencil straps. Genuine marks have a frosted appearance. Pre-1945 etched marks usually, but not always, include the word France.

After 1945

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After 1945 engraved The letter R, for Rene, has not been included in authentic engraved marks since 1945. Since 1980, Lalique marks have also included the modern registration symbol, an R in a circle, ®.

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After 1945 acid-etched mark Acid etched marks are all uppercase block letters. No gaps in letters; fairly sharp-edged well defined letters. Acid was virtually never used in pre-1945 marks.

Clues to Forged Marks

There are certain words and phrases that appear in many false marks that virtually never appeared in any authentic Lalique mark on general production pieces made either before or after 1945. Any of the following words or phrases are indications that you are most likely looking at a forged or faked mark.

Paris France

Some perfume bottles include Paris, but general production pieces do not. As a general rule, be suspicious of any marks with Paris, France.

Rene Lalique

Standard marks on general production pieces before 1945 generally include only the initial R; Rene is not usually spelled out.

Made in France

Authentic Lalique marks used before 1945 and the great majority of marks used after 1945 include France only. As a general rule, any mark with Made in France is probably not genuine.

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Many forgeries are one-quarter inch and larger.

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Authentic marks are rarely over one-quarter inch tall.

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R. Lalique forgery in raised glass letters made by cutting away the surrounding surface. Letters are almost one-half inch high.

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Raised glass forgery, "R. LALIQUE," on the foot of a vase. Letters almost one-half inch tall.

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Acid-etched forgery, "R. Lalique FRANCE." No authentic pre-1945 Lalique mark was acid-etched. Authentic post-1945 acid-etched Lalique marks are all uppercase sans-serif style, not cursive and not a mixture of upper and lowercase letters.

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Typical acid-etched forgery, "R. LALIQUE FRANCE." Note poorly formed letters: bottom of L touches bottom of A. Many letters appear as outlines only.

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Engraved forgery, "Rene Lalique–France Reg #478." Very few authentic marks have the word Rene spelled out. In the great majority of authentic pre-1945 marks, Rene is abbreviated as the initial R.

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Forged mark in intaglio, or below, the surface. Unusual seriff type style, strong outlines with poorly filled in bodies. Letters set on unusual curved line.