'Murano' and Italian glass are almost synonymous

The name "Murano" and Italian glass are almost synonymous. Murano is actually a small island located in the Venetian lagoon, and glass has been made there since the 13th century.

Reportedly, glassmakers chose this location because it gave them the privacy to keep their methods and formulas secret, but it also protected the town on the mainland from fires that often break out in association with glass-making facilities.

The company known to modern collectors as Barovier and Toso can trace its origins to the 14th century, but the modern incarnation of this company was founded in 1878 by Antonio Salviati and at the end of the 19th century, the name of the company was "Artisti Barovier." Ercole and Nicolo Barovier joined the company in 1919, when it became Vetreria Artistica Barovier & Co.

In 1933 Ercole Barovier became the sole proprietor of this company, and in 1936 Artemio and Decio Toso, the owners of another glass factory, merged with Barovier to form Ferro-Toso-Barovier. This name was changed to Barovier and Toso in 1942, and the company is still in business, to the best of our knowledge.

The height of Barovier and Toso's artistic achievement is said to have come in the 1950s. It is especially known for their "murrhine" (or "Murrina") work, which involves making glass mosaics by embedding sections of decorative glass canes (colored glass rods) into a hot glass base and then expanding the piece to make the finished vessel or form.

The lamp base belonging to C. and E.E. was made by incorporating pieces of gold leaf into the hot glass. As the piece was blown, shaped and manipulated, the gold leaf broke apart to form the flecked effect that characterizes both the clear and colored portions of the glass. The three-dimensional fruit that makes up the focal point of this lamp is typical of mid-20th-century Venetian glass, but pieces with these gold-flecked assemblages of glass fruit are still being made on the island of Murano.

As for the monetary value of this lamp, it is a really attractive piece, but it would have been somewhat more valuable if it had been made from a more artistically challenging glass, been in some form other than pyramidal fruit and been one of a pair. Collectors or just buyers of lamps in general tend to want their lamps in pairs, just as they tend to like their candlesticks in pairs.

This can make single lamps hard to sell, and the serial number (22283A) found on the bottom of the paper label, which is on the underside of the base, suggests to us that there was once a 22283B. Even as a single, however, the insurance replacement value for this piece is between $1,200 and $1,500 if the various protruding parts have not sustained any damage over the years.

One last thought: C. and E.E. should take great care to make sure the Barovier & Toso paper label remains in good condition and attached to the lamp base. This is the "signature" or identifying mark on this piece and adds to the value.

600450 'Murano' and Italian glass are almost synonymous glassonweb.com

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