New plaster pieces have look of ageBy

New plaster pieces have look of age

Wholesalers have offered more Art Nouveau and Art Deco plaster sculptures. Previous castings of Nouveau and Deco styles have typically been in synthetic resins (plastics) and have been relatively easy to detect with a careful examination. The new plaster pieces are not so easy to spot. Our samples show new plaster to be of quite good detail and quality.

Vintage plaster pieces were generally sold as inexpensive substitutes for more costly metal and fired ceramic originals. The quality of new pieces shown here is as good as most vintage originals.

The only advice we can offer at this time is to pay particular attention to highlighting. Most original plaster castings do not have much highlighting and if it is used, it is generally very close in color to the background color. With new pieces, the highlighting seems to be a strongly contrasting color. The dancer, for example, has unusual bright white highlights on an otherwise dull off-white background.

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Fig. 1 The table base has strong brown highlighting on an off-white background.
New table base price, $150.

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Fig. 2 New Art Deco style dancer cast in plaster. Off-white finish with white washed highlights. About 14' high, 12' across arms. New retail price, $60.

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Fig. 3 The bright white highlights on the new piece are unlike softer highlights found on vintage pieces. But this is not a definite test you can use for every suspect piece.