Does all Murano Glass have a mark? Not all, but many original Murano items have signatures, labels, or stamps. Among the items that do not have any marks many are still authentic. Seems confusing? Do not despair – we will teach you how to identify authentic Murano Glass, whether with marks or not.
Murano Glass Authenticity: Why It’s Important
Murano Glass is an art form that has its origins in ancient Egyptian, Byzantine, and Roman glassmaking methods. For centuries, people cherished Murano Glass for its vibrant colors, intricate designs, and advanced techniques. The local master artisans in Venice have made significant breakthroughs and introduced many innovations in the craftsmanship and artistic design of Murano Glass. This was possible because the island of Murano has been a hub of Venetian glass production since the 13th century. Working closely together, its artisans have honed their methods through generations, creating unique pieces which broke the mold of the craft.
Murano Glass masters always were the envy of all the other glass masters around the world. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, as they say, and today lots of Murano Glass counterfeits flood the market. These counterfeits endanger the craft of making original Murano Glass. Moreover, their sellers fool people into buying undesirable low-quality products.
To help you buy real Murano Glass we are sharing our top identification tips. Once you understand what to look for, you will be able to distinguish original Murano Glass from the imitations flooding the market. By understanding the key characteristics and markers of real Murano glass, you can make informed decisions. It will help you to know that you are paying for the skill of Murano-based masters and for the artistry honed through generations of Italian glass artisans.
Signatures and Marks on Murano Glass
The presence of marks on a Murano Glass object can play a crucial role in authentication and quality assurance. However, it is essential to note that NOT all Murano glass pieces bear marks. The absence of a mark does not automatically indicate a lack of authenticity. Let’s delve into the significance of marks on Murano glass and explore the various types you may encounter.
Marks on Murano Glass serve as valuable indicators of its origin, authenticity, and the master responsible for its creation. These marks can come in different forms, including signatures, labels, and stamps. They provide a glimpse into the history and provenance of the piece, adding to its allure and value.
Signatures are one of the most sought-after marks on Murano glass. These are typically etched or engraved onto the glass itself, showcasing the artisan’s name or initials. A signature adds a personal touch to the piece, allowing collectors to appreciate the skill and talent of the specific glassmaker.
Labels, often in the form of paper or foil stickers, are another common type of mark found on Murano glass. They contain information about the company responsible for the production, including the name and location of the workshop.
Stamps are markings on the the glass surface created using molds or other tools. These stamps reflect the symbols, logos, and overall branding associated with renowned Murano glassmakers. Stamps offer a visual representation of the glassmaker’s reputation and can serve as a guarantee of quality. However, Murano Glass industry is highly dynamic. Companies often separate, merge, or change names. This leads to changes in the stamps and labels over the years even for the same company.
The Significance of Marks on Murano Glass
While many buyers look for marks on Murano glass, remember that not all authentic pieces will have them. In vintage Murano glass, marks may fade over time or detach due to wear and tear. Some modern glass companies do not use labels or stickers and may only have the master’s signature. And some glassmakers may intentionally choose not to mark their pieces, letting their craftsmanship and distinctive designs speak for themselves.
Therefore, the presence of a mark should not be the sole determining factor in assessing the authenticity of Murano glass. Instead, consider other characteristics such as the quality of craftsmanship, the use of traditional techniques, the richness of colors, and the overall aesthetic appeal of the piece.
The Mark of Vetro Artistico Murano
The first attempt to protect the Murano Glass industry from counterfeits was made in 1985. This was the year of the creation of the Murano Glass consortium called Vetro Artistico Murano. In 1994 this Murano Glass consortium came up with Vetro Artistico Murano symbol consisting of a round plate and a glassmaker’s tool called “borsella” (a Pincers-like tool). Since 2002 labels showing this symbol with the special number indicating the member company are in use. These labels come off only in pieces and you cannot reattach them once they are removed.
Only member companies get to use these labels. However, membership in the consortium is voluntary and fee-based. In other words, there is no law that compels every Murano Glass company to become a member. This means that if you do see the Vetro Artistico Murano label on an object you can be sure that it is authentic work of Murano Glass.
However, if you do not see it the piece very well may still be authentic. Many legitimate and even prominent Murano Glass companies choose not to become members. The consortium charges annual membership fees, which may be too high for some producers. Other producers are already well-known and see no value in the consortium membership. Some become members initially but then drop out. Moreover, because of the high fees, the production of those companies that are members of the Consortium is often more expensive, while the quality is not higher than that of non-members.
Identifying Authentic Murano Glass: Visual Examination
If you do not see the mark of Vetro Artistico Murano or a label of a particular company on the piece you like, this is not a reason for concern. The piece may still very well be authentic. Determine whether the design, the look, and the craftsmanship of the piece is characteristic of Murano Glass. Certain designs like Millefiori are rarely faked especially on large objects because it is challenging to make them look good enough to pass as Murano Glass. Same with the controlled bubbles of Bullicante. Or with Sommerso, where glass mixture of one color is immersed into glass mixture of another color creating multiple layers that do not mix up.
Overall pay attention to the objects’ shapes. See whether sculptures look lifelike, whether polish and finish are carefully executed, and whether the item’s design reflects the aesthetic seen in other Murano Glass pieces. If you have any doubts move on and examine pieces from a different seller.
Seeking Expert Opinions and Certifications
If you do not see any labels or marks and are not sure whether the piece is authentic, try to find an expert to give you more information. In stores and galleries on Murano island salespersons are often very knowledgeable about the different glass factories and workshops from which they source their products. They can tell you more about the history of the particular workshop, the master behind the pieces, and the specialty of each master that they represent.
If you found your piece online, read the description and any additional information carefully to determine if the seller is knowledgeable about the items they sell. Don’t hesitate to email the seller with your questions if you can’t find the answers in the product descriptions or elsewhere on their site. For collectible and vintage Murano Glass search through antiques’ marketplaces such as 1stdibs.com for similar pieces or peruse auction sites for prior sales of similar objects.
In many cases, Murano Glass pieces come with certificates of authenticity. For vintage items, these certificates may not have come with them originally or may be now lost. But if the items are contemporary and are not sold with certificates of authenticity, find out why.
The Importance of Buying Original Murano Glass
All the advice above to determine the authenticity of a Murano Glass object may seem overwhelming. After all, delving into an unfamiliar art form with many centuries of history without proper education may make anyone feel inadequate. But once you start researching and reading about various techniques and masters, comparing pieces, and paying attention to important features, you will quickly see how fake Murano pieces differ from the real ones.
It is worth the effort to learn to differentiate original Murano Glass from the counterfeits. First of all, it will help you own valuable pieces that carry forward the story of Murano Glass Art. Secondly, you will help the Murano Glass industry in Venice, a part of the global cultural heritage, to survive and prosper. Finally, you will enhance your understanding of this important art form and become a true Murano Glass enthusiast.