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Guide to Pricing Ysart Glass
by Frank Andrews
Originally, this Price Guide was compiled to give estimated values of the items illustrated in the book. This has proven to be impractical as the condition of every individual piece affects its value and the market is in a very changeable mood. In recent times Monart glass has sold for a very wide range of prices from about €90 to €8,000. Up until last year values had been leaping ahead by around 100 per cent per year. 1989 saw an apparent slowing down in this trend and, in fact, falls in prices occurred during 1990. What really happened was that the market started to mature as dealers began to understand the subtleties that collectors of Monart regarded as important. Until recently, most glass that has been actively collected was not free blown and was made using finer glass. Any faults in this type of glass were well understood by the trade. Monart requires new skills from both the trade and the collector, and it will be a some time before this understanding is widespread.
Since 1999 there has being a rapid growth of interest in the glass, particularly in the US and prices seem to have started to reach pre 1990 levels... expect to see them take off dramatically over the next few years.
MONART GLASS - Surface Decorated
Clear glass outer types. Plates 10-53.
see table, below, for colour/price comparisons.
€ 3,500 would be exceptional for any piece in this category.
Lamps usually command high prices as they are regarded as desirable by many art glass collectors.
The above guide should give a rule of thumb indication of the values at which I would expect sell pieces to sell by a specialist glass dealer, and non-specialist dealers should be quoting lower prices. One thing to bear in mind is that if an attractive piece is perfect, definitely Monart and priced below € 175, you are getting a bargain. Collectors may find surface decorated pieces at under € 175 in antique shops and fairs as this type of Monart is virtually unknown outside a small but fast growing circle of collectors. Auctions are not particularly good places to find Monart but it is usually reasonably priced, although you should take care as most auctioneers rarely look close enough to find the elusive stress cracks discussed below.
Two important features of Ysart glass are the existence of stress cracks and the rim finish of pieces. A very high proportion of Monart glass has suffered from stress (annealing) cracks, which were caused by uneven shrinkage of the multiple layered thick material during cooling. It becomes a matter of personal taste as to whether the existence of these cracks is a deterrent to collectors. I personally am not in the least bothered by them, but stress cracks most certainly affect values. The rim of pieces were shaped with the pucellas and smoothed by firing and this results in a slightly uneven finish which is almost impossible to fake when polishing the rim to remove chips. An example that shows any signs of polishing or cutting at the rim is very seriously devalued. Lidded pieces were often chipped in use, and pieces can be found that have been cut and polished to remove damage to rims, lids and bases. For me, any cutting spoils the piece as the original proportions are destroyed, and small chips on the rim are much to be preferred. Separate lids always match the body of the item.
However, degrees of damage or stress cracking are acceptable when the piece in question is of a particularly unusual design, colouring or is an aesthetically perfect example of a more common design, but the price would still reflect the damage. The piece shown on Plate 61, for example, has a bad three inch crack. I paid € 50 for the piece at a time when I would expect to have paid around € 175 for a perfect example. Today, I would expect to pay somewhere under € 175 for a good piece with similar damage. However, when a piece is very rare like the red, black and gold combination of Plate 12, and such a strong and powerful colour, it can attain high prices even when it has stress cracks or other damage. An eight to nine inch vase, red/black/gold, in an attractive shape would probably sell for between € 1,200 and € 1,800 if perfect and about 25% less if affected by a single small annealing crack. It would be worth as little as € 175 if it had a large crack or several smaller ones. The dark blue colouring in Plate 11 is rarer than red, but sells at about the same rates as it is less in demand. Paler blues are worth about the same as the common green and orange types.
For comparison, I give relative values below for the colourings shown in Plates 10-21, assuming that pieces are an identical shape, say FA with a height of 9". These values indicate the relative merits of different colourings and not the actual values of the illustrated pieces.
|Relative values for ‘faulted’ Monart Glass.
Note: Vasart is virtually worthless damaged
|Perfect||Minor Annealing cracks||Major Annealing cracks||Chips to rim||Other damage|
|Plate 11||€ 2,000||€ 1500||€ 750||€ 500||€ 250|
|Plate 12||€ 1650||€ 1250||€ 650||€ 425||€ 175|
|Plate 15||€ 1650||€ 1,100||€ 600||€ 350||€ 140|
|Plate 21||€ 850||€ 500||€ 425||under € 150||under € 150|
|Pl.10/17/18/20||€ 600||€ 350||under € 150||under € 150||under € 150|
|Plate 13/14||€ 500||€ 350||under € 150||under € 150||under € 150|
|Plate 16/19||€ 425||€ 350||under € 150||under € 150||under € 150|
Usually, annealing cracks only affect one layer of the glass and occur most frequently on straight sides or inside sharp curves. But how do we define a minor or major annealing crack? Simply, a minor annealing crack is one that is almost impossible to find. Major annealing cracks are easily spotted and usually larger. The smallest annealing cracks are up to 8mm long and can often be seen only after long and detailed examination under a good light, and then often only if the light reflects at the right angle. The worst cases have dozens of these tiny stresses all over the piece. Larger annealing cracks are more easily found and these can be 25mm to 60mm, long but again only affect one layer of the glass and do not pass through the colour enamel layer.
Bruises (circular cracks which are usually near the surface) are a different problem, and these are always the result of an accident. They should be categorised as major cracks and their affect on desirability becomes a very personal issue. If I found a bruised piece with an exciting design or colouring where the bruise could be hidden from view when the piece was displayed, I would happily buy it but push for the greatest possible discount from the dealer.
Bubble decorated pieces present a much bigger problem to the collector as very few examples are perfect. Each individual piece will need to be judged on desirability, taking into account the extent of the damage. For example, Plate 61 shows a superb combination of shape, colours and execution of bubble work. It has a large crack that can be kept from view, but this renders its value as very low. However, it is one piece that I would not part with and I regard it as one of the best Monart pieces that I have ever seen, and I have handled many thousands of pieces! I have seen two or three other examples in the same shape and colour, but they were both so let down by poor execution as to become mediocre pieces. Of the eight pieces selected for the book, only two were completely free of annealing cracks or leaky bubbles. Leaky bubbles form where moisture has seeped into the bubbles through minute holes and give the affected bubble a misty white appearance. I once had a vase that actually had water in some large bubbles.
However, bubble pieces are still rare and would generally be valued at a price somewhere between the normal cased pieces and the surface decorated pieces. Plate 57 shows the most commonly found colour of bubble pieces and it is unlikely to attract any premium over other pieces. Plate 58 has an exceptional colouring and would attract a substantial premium. Perhaps a fair range of prices for bubble decoration is from € 90 for a pin tray (like Plate 53) in the common blue up to perhaps € 3,500 for a very large, perfect piece with an unusual colour. Average pieces would fall into a medium range of € 350 - € 1,400.
Lined pieces without bubbles (Plates 62-74) would fall into similar price range, but less about 10%.
Other points to notice:
Most pieces with an applied foot have a light surface dusting of the body ground colour on the foot, but some are clear. The bottom of an applied foot is usually coarsely and untidily ground. Shape ZK does not appear in the only original supplement catalogue that I have seen. Original labels may have been cut up and shared between pieces.
One question that I have never been able to answer is why the pontil on Vasart glass is always smaller than the one on Monart glass. Occasionally, I have been almost convinced that a piece was Monart except for the absent ground base ring and small pontil. Now I know that earlier Monart did not have a ground base ring, but the colours used were very different in feel during that period. Just to confuse things, smaller pontils did occur on earlier Monart! The colours used for these pieces of Vasart could only be confused with later Monart examples and indeed the colours may have been obtained from the same source. While shape is another easy way to distinguish between the two types of glass, there is a certain quality about the way that Vasart is made that becomes apparent after handling a fair amount of the two period’s output. I have probably handled in excess of five thousand pieces of Monart and about two thousand pieces of Vasart, and recognise that touch plays an important part in defining the source. However, physical characteristics are more important here. When Vasart began to be made, Salvador Ysart insisted on creating a different product from Monart. Obviously, the colour is a major difference and some shapes are exclusive to Vasart. Other shapes are less easy to distinguish, but usually there is a subtlety of difference between Monart and its Vasart equivalent. The Monart and Vasart bucket shape is perhaps the only style without a noticeable shape difference (Plates 70 and 125). Both types of bucket shown here differ in angle and many other Vasart buckets also have this wider angle, but other buckets may be identical in shape and only distinguished by the different base finishes.
But the biggest consistent difference that appears consistent is that Vasart is thinner! This is the main reason that annealing cracks rarely occur in Vasart and is also the most important pointer to a firm identification when a base ring has been ground on the bottom of a piece of Vasart to convert it to Monart.
However, glass made before Vasart is less of a problem than glass made more recently. Strathearn, Vasart’s lineal descendant, was made in very similar colours. Luckily, the change of location brought a change of both raw materials and equipment. Strathearn glass has a very different feel from Vasart and the glass has a glossier, dare I say more glass-like, quality? The glass is usually thicker, and different new colours and designs were quickly added to the Strathearn range. A leaping salmon motif was applied to the pontil and there had been a trend to grind the motif down to pass the piece off as Monart or Vasart. This trend is slowing as Strathearn is now being actively collected in its own right and some reports from Scottish collectors tell me that a good piece of Strathearn can be more expensive than Vasart. Certainly Strathearn did produce some stunning pieces and hopefully more information will come to light about this period.
Finally, there are the pieces made at Perthshire Paperweights by Chick Young in the style of both Monart and Vasart. These pieces do not have a pontil and should be marked with an impressed ‘P’. All the examples that I have seen in their showrooms certainly do have the mark, although occasionally it can be a bit faint. However, Perthshire pieces have appeared in the antiques trade in some numbers, bearing no trace of a mark, and they are only identifiable by the lack of a pontil and the over-bright range of colours. A few examples have also been seen with a crudely applied circle of clear glass on the base, probably an attempt to simulate a Vasart pontil. While all these little features add a lot of character to the collecting of Ysart Glass, we hopefully will not experience the workmanship that has gone into faking the work of Gallé!
Vasart glass is still cheap in comparison to Monart glass, but is showing a continuous upward trend as the numbers of collectors increase. Small objects such as the top hats and pin trays sell for between € 25 and € 50 with those pieces in good colour combinations attracting the higher prices. Bowls of all sizes rarely exceed € 175 but vases at up to € 250 are not uncommon, although pieces made in less exciting colours may not even reach € 90. But Vasart has exceptions, as some superb vases have been sold in the € 350 - € 500 range. The median price for a reasonably sized piece of Vasart is € 200. Vasart mushroom lamps are much rarer than Monart and sell in the range of € 850 - € 2,500. Tulip lamps have a keen following and sell at just over € 350. Other lamp bases fetch between € 140 and € 250 each. Vasart prices have not yet reached a plateau, and with really fine pieces such as Plates 124, 128, 129, 132 and unusual pieces such as Plate 131, this type of glass could show substantial growth.
In the long term, I would expect prices of the best Monart surface decorated pieces to climb to over € 16,000 with the least exciting Monart, of all types, staying around the € 350 to € 500 range. Good lidded, bubble and lined pieces of Monart will probably move into the low thousands, and the vast numbers of pieces with annealing cracks will continue to keep the most exciting colours and designs available for collectors with modest budgets. Availability will remain a problem, but during the next ten years I expect to see many more pieces coming fresh to the market and regular lots appearing in the best auction houses. Certainly Monart, Vasart and Strathearn glass all represent good investments, particularly now while detailed knowledge of these types of glass is not widespread, although the same lack of knowledge may lead to lots of examples being over-priced. Hopefully, this price guide will be of assistance to collectors and the trade alike.
Vasart and Strathearn weights can be easily confused, although Strathearn did sign many of their weights with an S cane. In order to collect Vasart weights, it is probably a good idea to examine some Strathearn weights in order to learn the colours and variations in techniques that distinguish them. Occasionally you may be lucky enough to find a Vasart weight with a label (Plates 7-8) and these are very desirable. The canes shown in Plate 141 are from Vincent Ysart’s own stock and show a good number of the designs and colours that were used. Plate 198 shows a good example of a Vasart-only design, and the distinctive bottles in Plate 199 are another source of cane reference. Many of the novelties incorporating 25mm weights (Plate 200) are Vasart products and are another good reference source of canes.
Some of the weights that I have seen which were made by either Vincent or Salvador Ysart are of a superb quality and only just fall short of earlier work by Paul Ysart. However, only millefiori/filigree and vertical flower weights were made at Vasart. These were made largely for the British souvenir trade and, in many cases, are not great works of art. Prices for run-of-the-mill weights are around € 35 - € 50 each with better examples moving up to around the € 100 mark. The finest examples are in the € 175 - to € 350 region. Bottles (Plate 199) can be found around € 250 and are usually described as nineteenth-century! Check carefully for damage around the neck and only buy a damaged bottle if it is really beautiful and reasonably priced. Weights signed with Salvador’s ‘Y’ cane generally change hands at around € 500 each. I have only heard of about eight examples of these weights, although probably more will come to light. Numbers will be limited as paperweights were not Salvador’s main interest. Another, rather unlikely, source of cane reference is the Vasart vases, which were decorated with colour splashes (Plates 119-121 & 124). These splashes are, in fact, slices or lumps of cane. These are normally too distorted to recognise as individual canes but the occasional vase does turn up incorporating clear examples. Plate 114 clearly shows some filigree canes. Strathearn made vases decorated with lengths of canes embedded in the surface, probably the only other source of surface decorated Ysart type glass. This type of decoration is also found on very early Monart vases and is the only indication, together with Salvador’s cup on page 28, that millefiori was in use by Salvador long before Paul became interested in paperweights. Apart from family-owned examples, I wonder if there are some Monart paperweights by Salvador Ysart in circulation dating from the 1920’s. Do let me know.
Paul Ysart’s work is very different from that made by the rest of the family, as paperweights became his passion and eventually his only work carried out in glass. From some crude (but very affectionate) pieces in the early thirties to his magnificent 3D weights of the sixties and seventies, it is apparent that these weights are true masterpieces. Yet Paul made paperweights in relatively small quantities. Much of his UK market production was unsigned and his ‘H’ cane weights were made in collaboration with William Manson. The ‘fakes’ saga saw prices of Paul Ysart paperweights fall briefly, but once the fakes began to be recognised interest in the UK definitely recovered. The USA market has always been strong, and only recently have UK prices become comparable for the signed weights. Generally, Paul’s unsigned weights fetch around € 175 to € 425 when correctly identified, but signed weights which usually went straight into the collecting market have been steadily increasing in value. € 350 would be about the lowest price you could expect to be pay for one of his later millefiori weights, and certainly more for a pre-war Monart weight. Plate 142 shows one of the handful that I have handled and this valued at around € 1500. The current top level appears to be up to the € 2,500 mark for the very best of Paul’s three dimensional weights. Many of these paperweights illustrate Paul Ysart’s independent rediscovery of techniques lost since the nineteenth century in France. One particular favourite of mine is shown in Plate 143 and I (together with many other Ysart glass collectors) would actively compete for such an example at auction against paperweight collectors. But as with Ysart glass, the higher prices for paperweights are as much based on aesthetic appeal as they are on technical merit. Paul’s colourful jokes in glass, Plates 154, 167 and 178, could lift the heart of the most ardent anti-paperweight person. His use of magnification is superb and gives amazing movement to weights such as Plate 154, where all three ducks are the same size. Prices of these weights tend to be set by collectors at auction and the only guide can be restraint of excitement as the bidding rises.
Much more light will be fall on the work of Paul Ysart in the book, ‘Paperweights from Great Britain 1930-2000’ by John Simmonds, Schiffer ISBN 0-7643-1074-7.
The author of this guide is happy to help genuine collectors with identification and asks that any requests be in writing, with a stamped addressed envelope and two clear photographs of the piece, one of which should show the underneath at an angle. No charge will be made for this service. Please use E-mail address at the top of this page.
The publishers wish to state that all the information in this guide is the personal opinion of the author and they can take no responsibility for the accuracy of the guide-lines. This guide is not intended to set price levels, but to give a relational comparison of values. The antique market operates on supply and demand and it is always the responsibility of the purchaser to determine condition and value of any goods purchased.
Published in conjunction with:
YSART GLASS, various authors. ISBN 0 9514465 1 7
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