Update: The Daum glass vase sold for $17,000, hammer price.
What you see: A circa 1900 Daum glass vase, painted in the Prairie pattern and rendered in a bulbous stick form. It stands a little over 12 inches tall. Jaremos estimates it at $12,000 to $18,000.
The expert: Bruce Orr, founder of Jaremos, which is located in Flower Mound, Texas.
How is the word “Daum” pronounced? [Laughs] It depends on if you’re American or French. Here, it’s “dom”. In France, it’s more like “dome”.
Who, or what, was Daum? Is it still active? Two brothers, August and Antonin Daum, ran a cameo-decorating company at the turn of the century. It was in competition with Émile Gallé, and it was contemporary with Tiffany Studios in the United States. The company was strong until 1913, when World War I shut the factory down, and it ended up being used as a field hospital. After the war, the brothers were too old to continue. One of their sons took over. Daum has been a continuously producing glass house for 130 years.
Does it still make art glass? It still does some. In the 1980s, it did a series with Salvador Dali. Daum is to France what Steuben was to America, as far as stemware.
And the “Nancy” in the title of the lot listing–that is the town in France where Daum is based? Yes. Gallé was the primary glass-maker in Nancy. Daum came second. But in 1904, Gallé died, so it lost its leader a little early. Daum has more appeal to Americans than Europeans because it’s pretty. Americans buy pretty. Americans have always gone pretty. Europeans like technique.
Was there a golden age of Daum art glass? There’s an argument based on whether you’re a fan of Art Nouveau or Art Deco, but 1900 to 1913 is considered the high point.
Do we have any notion of how many pieces of art glass Daum produced during its golden age? I’m sure the records are out there somewhere, but any number I could give you would be a guess. Daum was a big operation. It had 100 artists at one point, decorating the glass.
The lot notes describe the vase as having “iconic Prairie décor”. Was “Prairie” a specific line of art glass that Daum produced? Yes. This is a guess on my part, but it was not popular in its day, compared to the Daum Winter scenes. I might see one Prairie piece for every 100 Winter pieces. Because of that, Prairie is desired by collectors.
Do we know how many Prairie pieces Daum made, and how many survive? No, but I can tell you that over the last 15 years, eight have sold publicly that I know of.
Would this be the only Daum glass vase you’ve seen that’s in the Prairie style and has a bulbous stick shape? It’s the only one I know of.
How many different shapes did Daum offer in the Prairie line? There could have been 30 to 40 different ones. Most of the time with Prairie, they’re small.
The lot headline calls this Daum glass vase “rare”. What makes it so? Is it purely the Prairie decoration, or does its unusual shape play a role? It really wouldn’t make a difference what shape it has. It could be an ashtray and it would still get attention. This is one of the better ones I’ve seen as far as the shape. That should help it, but it’s the decoration that makes it rare.
Does this bulbous stick form vase show up only in the Prairie line, or do other pieces of Daum take this form? Other Daum pieces have this shape.
What can we tell, just by looking, how difficult this Daum glass vase was to make? As far as the enameling–and again, I don’t mean to downplay it–the decoration itself is not difficult to do. It wouldn’t have been that complicated. The difficulty is in getting the shape. When you consider that they were all hand-blown pieces, that’s saying something.
What challenges would the bulbous stick form pose to the glass-blower? Just the consistency. It’s difficult to do it consistently, but Daum, they were masters.
In looking at the shape of the Daum glass vase, it almost revels in its inability to function. Was it explicitly designed never to be used to hold flowers? Oh, come on! You could put one flower in it! [Laughs] I don’t think it was meant to be used. Tiffany, Gallé, and Daum were always made for the affluent of the day. It was always strictly a decorative piece.
What condition is the Daum glass vase in, and what condition issues do you tend to see with the bulbous stick form pieces? Anybody can crack or chip these. Once that happens, it takes 90 percent of the value out of the vase. The decoration can wear, and it’s usually worn by exposure to the sun. This one is very clean. On a one to ten scale, it’s about an 8.5. It has pretty strong decoration and not a lot of wear on it at all.
So the sun is the number one enemy of a piece like this? That, and if the owner is a klutz.
What is the Daum glass vase like in person? The delicate flowers on the bottom–I took a shot of the vase laying down so you could see it–I don’t know how you paint this on a piece of glass. The trees have definitive branches and the wildflowers are very delicately done. It doesn’t take a super artist, you just have to have the time to do it.
As we speak on March 25, 2021, the Daum glass vase has been bid up to $5,500 with the auction almost three weeks away. Is that meaningful at all, this far out? Yeah. It tells you there’s interest. Normally, most [lots] come close to two or three times their presale estimates. In my last sale, I had a Tiffany red flower form that was at $5,500 with three weeks to go, and it ended up doing $19,200. [The link reflects the Tiffany piece’s hammer price, or the price before the premium and attendant fees are added.]
What is the world auction record for a piece of Daum art glass in the Prairie style, and what is the record for any Daum piece? The overall record was set in December 2006 at Christie’s by a glass gourd piece that sold for $156,000. The record for a Daum piece in the Prairie style belongs to this same piece, or an identical version of this piece. It was offered in the same 2006 Christie’s auction, and sold for $28,800.
Why will this Daum glass vase stick in your memory? It’s the only one I’ve ever had. You remember the pieces that are really, really rare. When you have pieces this special, it’s exciting.
Images are courtesy of Jaremos.
See the website for Daum, which is still active and still making art glass.
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