21 Mar 2016
How to identify genuine Murano glass – a beginner’s guide
Marina Chernyak Marina Chernyak
Murano glass items are invaluable collectors’ items. The luminous glass articles handcrafted by the traditional glass blowers of Murano have never failed to captivate the fancy of collectors through centuries. These priceless pieces certainly add value to your cache of precious art pieces.
If you are a veteran at identifying art pieces of the world, you can easily recognize the counterfeits. But if you are a beginner, you will need as much the help as you can muster in order to identify the genuine articles. Please understand that the people who deal in counterfeits are experts in their field and their business depends on their ability to hoodwink the customers.
As a beginner, you will do well in knowing the details of the ‘Saga of glass blowing in Murano’. The history of the superb art begins from the 10th century. But the real fireworks started when the glass blowing guild was shifted lock stoke and barrel to the island of Murano. There, they were isolated from the rest of the world so that the techniques of the art stay unadulterated and secret.
In the island of Murano the art of glassblowing flourished into a full-fledged art form in itself under the imaginative Murano art masters. Numerous techniques were invented and Murano glass articles enjoyed a prime status in the world.
Even after so many centuries, the genuine Murano glass wares are still handmade individually. In spite of the markets being flooded with ‘Murano style” mass produced articles, the genuine Murano glass products are valued greatly by the collectors.
As a beginner it is very important that you are familiar with the authentic Murano glass. The best way is to visit museums or galleries to have a feel of the art. Visiting glass furnaces will also help. However, as a beginner it is better to rely on certain technical details, labels and certificates.
- Look for a trade mark label on the objects. This trade mark labels are issued by Promovetro, which is a consortium of important glass blowers in Venice. This label is fee-based and it is issued to the companies that obey the parameters of glass blowing prescribed by the Promovetro. This label is tamper proof, meaning, once it is stuck to an article, it cannot be detached without damage.
- The vendors who deal in the genuine products will be able to produce certificates of authenticity that will tell you about the furnace that produced the article and the details of the production process. These dealers may also help you with a brochures that will give you an insight into the history of Murano glass blowing industry and its background.
- You must look for phrases like ‘Made in Italy’, ‘Murano glass’ etc. in the certificates and other write-ups given to you by the dealer. The phrase ‘Murano style glass’ shows that it is not a genuine article. It is better to read through these papers till the end, to see if it shows any distant connection with other countries by way of address or other details. If these are located, it is better to veer off.
- The authentic Murano glass articles contain 18 – 24 karat gold and sterling silver and they will be mentioned in the product description. This means you can be sure the article is genuine.
- Once you are satisfied with the labels and the like, you may inspect the article itself and the other articles displayed by the dealer. The Murano glass is made of quality glass and it will usually possess a luminosity that comes from within. Inspect the similar articles. If they are Murano articles they will be slightly different from one another. As the Murano articles are individually blown, no two articles resemble in all respects.
- The colors and lines on the genuine Murano articles will be vivid and rich. The Murano glass artisans are meticulous in crafting the minutest details of the articles. The imperfections in the features will show you that it is not a Murano piece.
- As the Murano glass articles are individually blown, they will have a mark at the bottom of the product. This mark is called ‘pontil mark’. This is made by the rod which is used by the artisans to hold the articles while he shapes it. This is a sure sign that the article is hand blown.
- The hand blown Murano glass articles will be much lighter than their mass produced counter parts. The texture of the glass will be slightly rough and will contain small bubbles. The mass produced article will have only one layer, while the hand blown products will have many layers.
- If you are in any doubt of their authenticity, you must take high resolution pictures of the article from different angles and send them to experts for their opinion. If the dealer objects to your taking pictures that itself is a sign that the articles are not genuine.
On line purchase
- It is always better to buy from galleries, famous dealers or furnace outlets. But if you decide to buy on line, be sure of the genuineness of the site. Read through the write-ups to see if they are connected to some countries other than Italy.
- See if their pictures are high definition pictures which can be enlarged to display the details.
- See if they deal solely in Murano glass. If they are, they will show signs of closer contact with the island of Murano and Italy. They will be well versed in the history of Murano glass. If so you can order for the articles.
- See if they quote very low price and an exorbitant amount byway of shipping. This is a sure sign that they deal in fake articles and are trying to get as much money as shipping charges.
Murano glass items are worthy collectibles, as they increase in value as years go by. This is a valuable heirloom that can be bequeathed to the future generations. For the same reason, you should pay extra attention while buying these articles.
by Marina Chernyak