New Moldblown GalleBy Mark Chervenka
New Moldblown Galle
One of the more rare and expensive types of Galle cameo glass is the kind where the main pattern is mold blown (also called "blown out" and sometimes called "souffle" in Europe). Although all production Galle was blown in molds to create the basic shape, the term mold-blown means pieces whose raised designs were formed primarily in the mold. This is to separate them from those pieces whose designs were formed primarily by acid etching. Mold-blown designs are much more highly raised and are more three dimensional than the designs created by acid etching. Since the raised designs of mold blown pieces are essentially hollow, they give the appearance as if filled with light and seem to have an internal glow.
Although some mold-blown techniques were used by Galle as early as 1880-1890, the great majority of mold-blown pieces were made after 1924. The first major showing of mold-blown wares was at the Exposition Universelle held in 1925. Despite being among the last items produced at the Galle factory, moldblown wares all have excellent designs, received extra amounts of hand work and are all rare and desirable.
Original blown out vases 8"-16" average $6,000- $25,000 and up. Rare subjects, like a polar bear or elephant, bring $50,000 to $60,000+. Original blown out lamps and lighting fixtures are in the same range. With prices like that for originals, it's not surprising that a lot of effort goes into making mold blown Galle reproductions.
Original Galle blown outs were made by first sculpting a three dimensional model of the entire form in wax. The model was covered in clay and allowed to harden. It was then heated which melted the wax leaving a clay mold. Glass was then blown into the mold duplicating the shape of the original model. Original mold-blown designs were primarily objects that were highly rounded in nature. These included bulbous fruits such as grapes, oranges, and plums and round bodied flowers like tulips and fuchsia. Mold blown animals are rare but include elephants, polar bears and some sea life such as clams, seashells, etc..
Virtually without exception, original raised and rounded mold-blown designs are highly polished and shiny (Figs. 6 & 10). This increased the contrast between the raised designs and the flat frosted background. The majority of original mold-blown pieces were made of two layers of glass, the more complex pieces of three layers. Other than the polishing of the raised designs, the remaining surface of mold-blown vases was treated with hydrofluoric acid like other production Galle. Originals also have smoothly ground out pontils on the base and almost always have nicely rounded over top rims.
The most obvious difference is that the primary designs on new pieces are ground out (Fig. 7) from the inside not blown out. In other words, to make the new designs hollow grinding wheels are used to cut away the glass which fills in the raised areas. Without the grinding to let in some light, the new designs are simply dark patches of solid glass. The grinding leaves obvious marks easily seen by looking at the back side of the raised designs.
Another clue to the recent manufacture is the lack of polish or very poor polish to the raised designs. The surface of the raised designs in new pieces we have seen is practically the same as the surrounding background (Fig. 9). Pontil areas on new pieces are rough and not ground out smooth. New top rims are often squared off and not rounded like originals. So far the only reproduced shapes are vases; no new lamps or lighting fixtures have been found but this could change.
New "mold-blown" pieces also lack the height or projection of originals. In other words, the new designs are not as fully rounded or extend as far above the surrounding surface as designs in originals. New designs look flat and not particularly lifelike. Originals are very naturalistic in appearance. But this difference may not be obvious unless you have handled a number of originals or seen them in books.
The book with the most photos of original moldblown Galle glass ACRN is aware of is Glass by Galle, Duncan/de Bartha, © 1984, Abrams (out of print). All photos show excellent close up detail and most are in color moldblown lamps and lighting are also included. The next best book is French Cameo Glass, Blount, © 1968, Wallace Home-stead (out of print). Moldblown pieces in Blount are particularly interesting because they are shown in different types of lighting which affects their color.
All the new mold-blown pieces are marked Galle in raised lettering virtually identical to original marks. Most were made in Romania and also carry a raised letter mark of TIP. The TIP mark is then ground off and the piece represented as old. For this reason you should never rely on marks as a test of age or authenticity. Get a written receipt stating the date of manufacture. Simply including the word Galle on a receipt does not prove or establish a claim of age.