Saturday, October 6, 2012


Appraising and Authenticating Murano Glass

FORT PIERCE, Florida - Vivid colors and lively shapes are trademarks of Murano glass. Located off the coast of Italy in the shadow of Venice, the island of Murano's glass factories continue to produce exquisite works of art as they have since the 9th century. As with all collectibles, authenticating and appraising the value of these items is important. In the case of Murano glass, however, one finds there are no hard and fast rules to establishing the worth of a piece. Here's why.

Unlike many forms of art where values are based on the artists themselves, there are many more attributes that go into determining worth such as in what factories the items were produced. Also, something most collectors of glass are loath to admit, designers who were trained on the island of Murano but moved on to produce glass in other locations managed to create objects every bit as beautiful as actual Murano. Some of the Murano designers to look for are Venini, Pagnin, Martens, Poli Dalla Valentina Scarpa and Barbini while noted factories in Murano include Venini, Ferro & Lazzarini, Seguso, Vetri D'Arte, Cenadese and Barovier & Toso.

Many Murano pieces have no markings to identify makers or furnaces but the labels and signatures found are interesting as they range from quite generic-looking gold triangles indicating that the item was made in Murano to ornate examples more specific to the designer or factory. These are all indicators of genuine Murano glass. If a label simply states that the item was Made in Italy, it is not from Murano. It is important to note that fake red and gold "Made in Murano" labels are known to exist.

The different forms in which you can find Murano glass range from Art Glass to Vases, Figurines, Chandeliers, Beads & Jewelry, Fish, Birds, Ashtrays and Clowns. The symmetry, layering, differing tones of the same colors, pulled arms and rims - often curled, curving or twisted - and Aventurine (gold or copper flakes) are some characteristics of Murano glass. Others include ribbing, hobnail patterns, Bullicante (bubbles,) veins, elongated necks and items with murrines incorporated into the blown glass. It is important to be able to visually match a particular style or pattern to a designer or company.

An appraiser should possess as many original factory catalogs as are obtainable and, of course, be familiar with the three or four books that describe Murano glass in detail. Average collectors rarely encounter the types of studio pieces found in reference books and so need to rely on experts to identify and evaluate items in most collections and in the marketplace. If establishing values on specific categories or forms of art is what the appraiser does, he needs to dedicate himself to obtaining and cataloging comparable sales data and photographs from different sales venues. A sales catalog from a show at The Corning Glass Museum in Corning, New York is a good example.

The condition of the Murano glass is also important as mishandling and even improper cleaning techniques can compromise what is essentially perfection. An appraiser should look for chips, cracks flaws and restorations when determining condition. Generally the underside of the piece will show appropriate wear.

One last note refers to fake or replica Murano glass of which there is no shortage. Signs of forgeries most commonly include items that are obviously of inferior quality. Look for cloudy glass or out-of-proportion designs, misplaced bubbles, improper signatures and problems with color. Joining a collecting group is a great way to gain knowledge and avoid fakes.

The St. Lucie Appraisal Company
P.O. Box 2700
Fort Pierce, FL 34954
Tel: 772-359-4300
Fax: 772-466-8400
Web Site:

Personal Property Appraisals nationwide including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Keywords for this article: appraisal, appraiser, authenticate, collectible, collection, florida, glass, Miami Beach, Murano, value, Venini, Pagnin, Martens, Poli Dalla Valentina Scarpa and Barbini while noted factories in Murano, Ferro, Lazzarini, Seguso, Vetri D'Arte, Cenadese, Barovier, Toso.

Updated 06-20-2013
Updated 09-11-2013