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Antiques & Collecting: Glass figurines make a cameo appearance

Emile Galle was a famous French artist who is best known for cameo glass vases. These faience figurines, a bulldog and a cat, sold at auction as a pair for $1,470. Every cat has a silly grin and glass eyes, so they are easy to recognize.
Emile Galle was a famous French artist who is best known for cameo glass vases. These faience figurines, a bulldog and a cat, sold at auction as a pair for $1,470. Every cat has a silly grin and glass eyes, so they are easy to recognize.

Emile Galle is a famous artist, a leader of the Art Nouveau movement in France in the mid-1800s. He started his art while working at his father’s furniture and pottery factory.

By 1877, he managed the factory and started making clear glass. He soon developed a style of his own making vases of heavy, opaque colored glass in layers that he carved into plants and flowers. He called it cameo glass.

In 1878, his exhibit at the Paris Exhibition made him famous, and he promoted Art Nouveau designs in his glass and in the marquetry on his furniture. By 1885, he founded a workshop for furniture and made pottery.

Many modern collectors only know about Galle’s cameo glass, yet his pottery and furniture are often sold at shows and auctions. Furniture can be identified by the script name “Galle” as part of the marquetry design.

The heavy faience, or pottery, vases have thick walls, curved patterns and rounded edges and rims. Each is colorful and decorated with natural shapes of plant life.

But little is written about his seated faience. Each cat is about 12 inches high and 7 inches wide. Most are glazed yellow, although some are blue, black or green with small scattered hearts and circles as decorations. A few have elaborate drawings of flowers covering the body. Every cat had glass eyes and a grin.

Morphy Auctions sold a signed pair of yellow Galle figurines with scattered hearts and circles on a yellow background for $1,476 despite minor damage. At first glance they look like two cats, but one is a frowning bulldog. We wonder why cats are almost the only animal figure he made.

We found an old baby cup when we moved into my parents’ 1898 house. It’s marked “Pairpoint Mfg. Co., Quadruple Plate, New Bedford, Mass.” Can you give me any information about it?

The Pairpoint Manufacturing Co. started in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1880. It was founded to make silver-plated items to go with Mt. Washington’s glassware, which became part of Pairpoint in 1894. Silver production stopped about 1930. The value of your silver-plated baby cup is about $15 to $20.

Current Prices

Staffordshire plate, sailing ship, Cadmus, fishing, dark blue, floral border, 1830, 9 1/4 inches, $95.

Lightning rod, copper, balls, barbs, circles, verdigris, 112 x 20 inches, $280.

Sampler, tree of life, serpent, flower and vine border, fruit basket, animals, yellow, green, c. 1820, 16 1/2 x 16 1/2 inches, $580.

Galle cameo vase, pink and white background, green leafy overlay, signed, 7 3/4 inches, $830.

Tip: Spray glass cleaner on a cloth, then wipe the glass on a framed print. Do not spray the glass because the liquid may drip and stain the mat or print.

“Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide” — the all new 2021 edition — is now available in bookstores nationwide and online. For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit www.Kovels.com. 2020 King Features Synd., Inc.

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