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ROMANIAN glassmakers are particularly adept at making high-quality Gallé-style cameo glass but to avoid copyright issues, they are marked “TIP” in similarly raised glass after what passes at first glance as a Gallé signature.
We own such a piece, a lamp, purchased in Prague, which is stunning when lit… but unaffordable, to us at least, if it had been antique. TIP is the Romanian word for “type.”
The problem is that unscrupulous dealers have been known to grind away the TIP mark, which, when done professionally, leaves no trace.
Others attempting to explain away the mark claim erroneously that it indicated a piece made by a Gallé apprentice, or else it was made for export.
One of the most reliable ways of dating Gallé glass is the ground-out pontil mark on the base.
The pontil is a circular rough glass scar, which remains when the object is snapped off the glass blower’s hollow metal rod through which he blows to form the shape of the object when it is in molten form. The scar is then ground away, leaving a small dimple-shaped, smooth depression.
Most French cameo glass made before 1930 will have a ground pontil, while modern pieces made by the moulding process do not.
However, inventive fraudsters can create the ground-out depression simply to deceive.
As ever, the best advice is to buy only where purchases are guaranteed.
Early 20th-century Gallé style cameo glass Mushroom lamp, with trees, mountain and river scene, shade and stand signed “Galle” and “TIP”, indicating it was made in Romania. It still sold for £1,200. The Canterbury Auction Galleries