Reproduction Epergne with Hanging Baskets on the MarketBy

Reproduction Epergne with Hanging Baskets on Market

A subscriber found this epergne with baskets at an auction house in Charlotte, North Carolina. The piece aroused suspicion because the glass seemed too heavy and the red areas had too much purple. When an auction house employee was questioned about the piece, our subscriber was told it was a reproduction. This fact, however, was not mentioned when the epergne was offered for sale. It was bought back in at $400.

The epergne is a standard size. It has three clear glass twisted canes each supporting a cranberry basket on a clear glass handle. A large center trumpet and three smaller trumpets are rubena (clear glass shading to red). The base is cranberry.

Although some original trumpets may have been made in rubena, this is a highly unusual color for an period epergne. The mixture of cranberry parts with rubena is also highly irregular and cause by itself for extra close scrutiny. At this time we have been unable to locate the source of the new epergnes or whether other styles and colors are available.

What is now called an "epergne" in the American antiques market was developed in England as a "flower stand" or "center piece". The earliest forms started appearing about 1860. By the 1870s the general form was a taller center trumpet surrounded by shorter outward spreading trumpets. Glass baskets were also added. Bases for the trumpets were generally glass dishes but could also be mirrored plateaus. Many types of art glass were used as well as cut and etched glass.

We think the best reference on the subject is Victorian Table Glass and Ornaments, Barbara Morris, ©1978, Barrie and Jenkins Ltd, London, UK (out of print). Morris devotes an entire chapter to the subject supported by British patent research, glass company histories and glass trade advertisements.

All epergnes need close inspection. They are notoriously fragile and few survived in perfect condition. Trumpets, canes and baskets are constantly being "married"; connectors and sockets are made up from odd bits of hardware and glass decorations ground off or glued together. And now, reproductions.

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Fig. 1 Reproduction rubena epergne. VR Photo

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Fig. 2 English flower stands as shown in 1889 catalog.

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Fig. 3 Original epergnes are not necessarily English.