Poschinger inkwells

Tribulations of attribution

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Written by Alfredo Villanueva-Collado, Ph.D.

 

In 1985 I bought Jugendstil, Art Nouveau: Floral and Functional Forms ( Boston : Little,. Brown and Company, 1984) by Sigfried Wichmann, an excellent study of the sources of form for these movements.   Page 54: 87 showed an inkwell in the same shape as mine.  But alas, the décor did not match: it was pale green with heavy veining, identified as Pallme-König, in the collection of the Bavarian National Museum , Munich ! 

In the world of Czech Art Nouveau glass collecting, there is an information black hole when it comes to inkwells. They are routinely marketed as “Loetz” simply because they are iridescent and labeling them as such justifies a higher price — see offerings by both dealers and auction houses on eBay -- but no one can actually offer proof that they are indeed Loetz. And to top it all, research into attribution can yield bewildering results.

I bought my very first inkwell as “Loetz” at the New York Antiques Center almost 30 years ago,  paying for it far more than I have paid for any other inkwell (and most of my vases) ever since.  I justified the expense by declaring it the only one I’d ever own (I lied).

 

© AV

 


In 1985 I bought Jugendstil, Art Nouveau: Floral and Functional Forms (Boston: Little,. Brown and Company, 1984) by Sigfried Wichmann, an excellent study of the sources of form for these movements.   Page 54: 87 showed an inkwell in the same shape as mine.  But alas, the décor did not match: it was pale green with heavy veining, identified as Pallme Konig, in the collection of the Bavarian National Museum, Munich!   I was lucky to find one very similar to it:, which the seller had identified as Pallme Konig, referring to my own article for loetz.com.

© AV

 

 

Then, in 2000, I bought a set of pictures taken by a dealer at the Passau Museum.  There, in  Kralik case 253, were two other inkwells, same shape as mine, one in clear glass with blue threads, the other in clear glass with green threads.  When Eddy Scheepers and I visited the Passau Museum in the summer of 2006, he took a picture of them:

 

© GP

Thus, my inkwell had already gone through three attributions.  But the mystery of its provenance was far from solved. In the Passau Museum , Poschinger case 29, we also found several vases in the same décor as my inkwell. These vases do not appear in the extensive section on Poschinger  in the 1995 Passau’s Museum Catalogue, Band V


© GP

 

When I returned from my trip to Passau, I decided I’d try to solve the mystery posed by iridescent inkwells by creating the Czech Iridescent Inkwell ID Research Project, for www.loetz.com, a space  where:

a) An iridescent inkwell archive will be kept—iridescent inkwell collectors can send pictures of those they own, and they will be posted.

b) Collectors of Czech glass vases can identify pieces in their collections having the same décor as the inkwells and match them up.

c) Hopefully, once matches are made, a manufacturer can be identified.

Collectors have already contributed pictures of pieces similar to my inkwell. These come from Barbara Bureker, editor of The Stained Finger, the Society of Inkwell Collectors’ newsletter:

 

 

© BBu © BBu
   

Mary McAttee, SIC’s Public Relations Director, has submitted another, sold as a Rindskopf!  Not surprisingly, for Rindskopf produced an extensive line of vases precisely characterized by feathering (see article at loetz.com).   But none of the opalescent white/red feathering pieces in the Passau Museum’s Poschinger case show Rindskopf’s  particular shapes. Notice how shape is an indicator of common provenance, though the décor may be different.

 

© MA

 

Identification of these inkwells hinges, of course, on the Passau Museum’s correct attribution of the vases in case 29. Both Kralik and Poshinger produced pieces with the with the heavy veining commonly associated with Pallme Konig. Thus, Wichmann cannot be faulted for an honest mistake. Besides, most of the books and catalogues from the 70’s and 80’s are at present useless in the matter of attribution of non-Loetz pieces. We only know only one thing for certain: NONE OF THESE INKWELLS IS LOETZ.
 

 And what are we to do with the two inkwells in the Kralik case. An answer may be found in David Littlefield’s collection of barber bottles.  One corresponds to my inkwell, but a second corresponds to the blue threaded inkwell in the Kralik case! 

If, following the exhibit at the Passau Museum, the first one is a Poschinger,  the second must also be one as well.  And the inkwells they match.

© DL © DL  

But the reverse may also be true.  If the Passau Museum has misclassified a whole line of vases as Poschinger, then both inkwells and vases are indeed Kralik (and it has happened in other areas.  See my article for loetz.com on Dugan glass misclassified as unidentified Czech at the Passau Museum).  Kralik routinely produced vases whose décors closely resembled those of other factories, particularly Loetz; it did have a line of vases in white opalescent glass; and we do know it was the main producer of iridescent inkwells of the period.

In order to make the Project a success, we need your continued cooperation.  Please send pictures of inkwells and matching vases, with a note granting permission to use them.  Loetz.com has a policy of publishing the e-mails of its contributors; if you wish to remain anonymous, please state so explicitly.  You can send pictures and/or comments to:

alfavil@aol.com

eddy@loetz.com

alfavil@loetz.com

The Society of Inkwell Collectors can be accessed at:  www.soic.com

 

Other pages from the Inkwell ID Project
Loetz Poschinger Kralik
"Bacillus"
Kralik
"Banded"
Kralik
"Draped"
Stölzle

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