Is this really Loetz glass and should I buy it?

Much of the glass being sold as Loetz in auctions, in stores or online was in reality not made by Loetz at all. The misattribution may be an innocent mistake, wishful thinking, or a conscious attempt by the seller to deceive the buyer into paying a higher price than the piece is worth.

How can you avoid falling into this trap? Well, this website is the best place to start. If you cannot find the shape and / or decor of a piece being offered for sale as Loetz, then it is highly likely that the piece was manufactured by somebody else. Highly likely, but not certain; we have identified many hitherto unknown Loetz decors over the years, and we will surely identify more in the future.

While there are several articles on Loetz.com like this one that will provide information on non-Loetz pieces, Loetz.com is designed to present examples that are Loetz. To find out what is not Loetz, you'll have to consult other websites or sources of information. Several websites, including bohemianglass.org and kralik-glass.com offer good overviews of non-Loetz Bohemian glass, with shape and decor images of glass from Loetz's contemporaries, including Kralik, Rindskopf and Pallme-Koenig. Otherwise, study books (including those recommended on this website), auction catalogues and Ebay offers for examples of what is and what is not Loetz. And join social media groups that specialize in Bohemian glass, but do be aware that many of the contributors to discussions are not experts and may offer opinions that are out of date or just plain wrong!.

If you are really serious about collecting, visit antique shops, auctions and flea markets and compare the items on offer with our Decors Index. Actually handling glass will also give you a 'feel' for the weight, thickness, quality of the iridescence, etc, of genuine Loetz glass. Studying the track record of sellers in attributing sales items to the correct manufacturer will help you identify which sellers are reliable, which are chronic 'wishful thinkers', and which are downright dishonest; sadly, there are several examples of this latter category. The sellers that often deal in Loetz glass are likely to be more reliable, but only if their attributions are consistently correct!

If you are in the market for the more expensive Loetz decors, ask the seller for written documentation regarding the history of the object and the price paid for it if it has changed hands in the past.

So, let's now look at the different reasons that you might end up buying a piece of non-Loetz glass under the erroneous assumption that it was made by Loetz.

1. Glass by other contemporary manufacturers

Much of the genuinely old glass sold as Loetz was in fact made by somebody else.

There were a lot of glasshouses manufacturing glass in a style similar to Loetz at the end of the 19thand beginning of the 20thCentury. Many of these were also in Bohemia, including Kralik (below left), Rindskopf (below center), Pallme-Koenig (below right), Meyr's Neffe, Glasfabrik Elisabeth, Knizek, Welz, Riedel, Moser, Haida, Steinschoenau and Harrach. Just over the German border in Bavaria, similar glass was being made at Buchenau (von Poschinger), Steigerwald, Schliersee, Theresienthal, Frauenau, Spiegelau, Josephinenhuette and Heckert.

Kralik's 'Nautilus'-lookalike, with green tadpolesRindskopf's version of 'Papillon'Pallme-Koenig with typical threading and torn rim

To get a feeling for the glass from these manufacturers, google their names and look at the shapes, decors and colors that they typically used. Much of the non-Loetz glass bought as Loetz comes from Kralik, Rindskopf, Pallme-Koenig or Harrach; this is perfectly good glass, but it is not what it claims to be and is in most cases overpriced as Loetz glass tends to be more expensive.

Life is made more difficult by the fact that manufacturers sometimes copied each other's successful decors, and it is in fact often hard to determine who was the originator; indeed, some of Loetz's early art nouveau glass was copied from Tiffany designs!

This article on our website shows several example of such non-Loetz glass, and underlines how hard it can be to decide or not whether Loetz really was the manufacturer. Non-Loetz Look-Alike Decors.

2. Modern glass

The biggest problem for collectors of most categories of antiques is the existence of modern fakes – i.e. items manufactured to look like the original with the intention of deceiving the buyer. So far, this has not been a major issue for Loetz collectors. More problematic is glass made 'in the style of' Loetz by modern artists as a tribute to Loetz, or because the artist wanted to challenge himself to see if he could master the difficult techniques used by Loetz.

Two such artists are Vaclav Stepanek (sometimes seen as 'Stephanek') (his modern version of 'Medici' below left) and Igor Muller (his modern version of 'Papillon' below right). Both excellent glassmakers and both in the Czech Republic. These artists proudly signed their creations but unscrupulous sellers sometimes try to remove these signatures and sell these modern replicas as Loetz, at much higher prices than they were sold for by the maker.

          Stepanek's modern version of 'Medici'   Muller's modern version of a 'Papillon' seashell

More blatant but much easier to spot is glass which doesn't even vaguely look like Loetz, but which is offered for sale as such. One such example are globular slag glass lamp shades from Bulgaria, sold as Loetz on eBay and bearing no resemblance whatsoever to any known Loetz decor (see below).

                                               Lampshade falsely attributed to Loetz on Ebay

3. Fake signatures and marks

Here you are referred to two other articles on this website: Loetz Signatures and Marks and Loetz Signatures and Marks after 1918.

Adding a fake signature or mark is one way of getting a higher price for non-Loetz glass. Do remember that it may not be the seller who has perpetrated this deception – they may have bought the piece earlier in good faith believing it to be Loetz.

Bear in mind that Loetz did not sign most of its art nouveau glass. This applies especially to the simpler and more common decors, but even rare and expensive pieces may have no identifying marking whatsoever. Don't be put off by this; if you are sure you have identified the decor correctly – and shape would be a plus – then go for it!

4. Wrong attributions

This is the commonest trap that an unwary novice buyer can fall into. Of course, points 1. -3. above are all wrong attributions, but here we are referring to a broader problem where sellers describe just about any piece of glass that looks old and possibly Bohemian as Loetz. The motivation of the seller can lie anywhere along a spectrum stretching from deliberate deception to wishful thinking.

5. Serial offenders

The mission of Loetz.com is to educate both buyers and sellers about Loetz glass. Once armed with this information, it will become clear who repeatedly tries to represent non-Loetz glass as Loetz, hoping to snag buyers at inflated prices. Ebay is a particularly risky place to rely on Loetz attributions. But, as mentioned above, there are many other places where Loetz attributions are incorrectly stated; before buying your first piece of Loetz glass, we highly recommend spending time studying the Decors Index on this website.

A couple of additional tips when buying glass that you have correctly identified as Loetz:

  • Not all decors were created equal. Generally speaking, and there are exceptions, the more expensive pieces are the Phaenomen decors, especially those known to have been exhibited at e.g. World Expositions, and those that can be attributed to well-known Loetz designers (e.g. Hofstoetter, Moser, Kirschner, Beckert, Powolny, Bolek). Titania and Titania-like decors (Carrageen, Flamarion) are also at the higher end of the price range. Some sellers regularly overstate the rarity of the glass they are selling - 'rare Rusticana vase' is an oxymoron, unless the shape or color is very rare, as Loetz made a lot of crete Rusticana. (A rare Rusticana shape is shown below, plus its inclusion in a 1901 photo of Loetz glass exhibited in Copenhagen).
  • Rare Rusticana Rusticana, Copenhagen 1901 (Neuwirth) 
  • Damage reduces value. If a vase has been broken or badly cracked, repaired or not, this will considerably reduce how much it will fetch in the market. Isolated bubbles or tiny black flecks of ash in the glass were almost unavoidable using the techniques of the early 1900s, and are acceptable; but if there are so many that they detract from the appearance of the glass, then they will reduce its value. Vases that have been routinely used in the past may have interior water damage, but this is rarely bad enough to reduce value and can be easily removed. Below you see a tiny burst surface bubble on a Loetz PG 6893 and tiny flecks of ash in a Diaspora.
  • Burst bubble on PG 6893      Ash inclusions on Diaspora

And finally one very specific issue for Loetz collectors:

  • Tango glass is a minefield!! Many Bohemian manufacturers made this brightly colored glass, including Loetz (see as examples Ausfuehrungen 157, 162, 166, 181 and 216 in the Decors Index). And only a few of the Loetz Tango vases were actually designed by Michael Powolny. But on eBay a large percentage of the 'Loetz Powolny' glass on offer is neither! Some are from other contemporary or modern manufacturers and – sadly – some are replicas of real Loetz pieces, purchased in Vienna souvenir stores!