Tiffany Lamps: Price Guide and How to Identify an Original

In the late 19th century, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), son of Tiffany & Co. founder Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812–1902), strayed from the family business to become one of the most pivotal artists and designers of the Art Nouveau movement.

Tiffany Studios: A Brief History

Born in New York to a family of prominent, high-end jewelry-makers, Tiffany was afforded the opportunity to travel at a young age. His first moment of inspiration emerged from a visit to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 1865, where he encountered luminous colors achieved by glassware from antiquity. Just 20 years later, he opened Tiffany Studios, a glassmaking studio that quickly rose to prominence through a series of high-profile commissions that included designs for New York’s Lyceum Theater and the White House in Washington, D.C.

As a result of his early exposure to decorative art from around the world, his designs drew inspiration from global sources such as Persian glass design, stained glass windows of the Gothic movement, and other elements of Asian and European craftsmanship. Tiffany lamps contained coiled bronze wire and blown favrile glass (a term that Tiffany himself coined) that “reflected the cultural fascination with the exotic,” says Tim Andreadis, Freeman’s specialist in 20th century design.

From the late 1890s through the 1920s, Tiffany Studios produced mosaic glass shades (some of which are classified as slag glass), that featured geometric and floral motifs. His geometric patterns invoked the far-reaching Arts and Crafts movement that defined the turn of the 20th century, while his nature-inspired motifs aligned with the Art Nouveau movement, a style that punctuated turn-of-the-century art, architecture, advertising, and design. The artists and designers who developed the iconic Tiffany lamp shade, says Andreadis, “established an oeuvre of lighting design unmatched in the modern era.” 

Antique Tiffany Lamps Value

Antique Tiffany lamps are sought-after today and the market remains competitive for investment-quality works. Tiffany lamps’ value can be anywhere from $4,000 to over $1 million. The most expensive Tiffany lamps sell for upwards of $1 million. The highest price ever paid for a Tiffany lamp remains $2.8 million at a Christie’s auction in 1997.

“The very best Tiffany lamps have harmoniously composed shades from a mosaic of hundreds of individually selected glass pieces,” says Andreadis. “A very good example can be acquired on today’s market in the $100,000-150,000 price range.”

Tiffany lamps bearing floral motifs and vibrant colors are among the most in-demand examples in the market today. Some of the most popular designs range from the more orientalist styles like the Tiffany Poppy lamp, to the dream-like, flowing floral designs like the Tiffany Daffodil lamp and the Tiffany Wisteria lamp. The Tiffany Dragonfly and Tiffany Peacock lamps, says Andreadis, are among the most desirable of the “blue-chip” Tiffany lamps – those that would have been much more expensive at the time of their creation and still tend to fetch six-figure values today.

Popular Motifs for Tiffany Lamps

Some of the popular Tiffany lamp motifs in the market include:

  • Tiffany Butterfly Lamp
  • Tiffany Daffodil Lamp
  • Tiffany Dragonfly Lamp
  • Tiffany Greek Key Lamp
  • Tiffany Nautilus Lamp
  • Tiffany Peacock Lamp
  • Tiffany Poppy Lamp
  • Tiffany Turtle Lamp
  • Tiffany Wisteria Lamp

Below, explore recent prices at auction for four types of Tiffany lamps: floor lamps, table lamps, hanging lamps, and desk lamps.

Tiffany Floor Lamps

Tiffany Floor LampsImage 1: Tiffany Studios Hanging Head “Dragonfly” Floor Lamp
Sotheby’s, New York, NY (December 2017)

Estimate: $300,000 – $500,000
Price Realized: $550,000

Image 2: Tiffany Studios Patinated-Bronze and Leaded Favrile Glass Poinsettia Floor Lamp
Doyle New York, New York, NY (September 2004)

Estimate: $150,000 – $200,000
Price Realized: $317,500

Image 3: Tiffany Studios Intaglio-Carved Favrile Glass, Turtleback Tile and Bronze Counter Balance Floor Lamp
Christie’s, New York, NY (December 2000)

Estimate: $18,000 – $24,000
Price Realized: $25,850

Image 4: Tiffany Studios Butterfly Etched Iridescent Favrile Glass and Bronze Counterbalance Floor Lamp
Waddington’s, Toronto, ON (June 2009)

Estimate: CAD8,000 – CAD12,000
Price Realized: CAD25,200

Image 5: Tiffany Studios, Leaded Daffodil Floor Lamp
James D. Julia, Fairfield, ME (November 2012)

Estimate: $1,000 – $1,500
Price Realized: $13,800

Image 6: Tiffany Studios A Favrile Glass and Patinated Bronze Floor Lamp, circa 1900
Bonhams, London, United Kingdom (October 2015)

Estimate: Unavailable
Price Realized: £1,500

Tiffany Table Lamps

Tiffany Table LampsImage 7: Tiffany Studios Wisteria Table Lamp
Phillips, New York, NY (December 2012)

Est: $500,000 – $700,000
Sold: $506,500

Image 8: Tiffany Studios, Important Peacock Table Lamp
Sotheby’s, New York, NY (December 2015)

Estimate: $300,000 – $500,000
Price Realized: $370,000

Image 9: Tiffany Studios Dragonfly Table Lamp
James D. Julia, Fairfield, ME (June 2017)

Estimate: $25,000 – $35,000
Price Realized: $51,425

Image 10: Tiffany Studios, Tall Table Lamp with Greek Key
Rago Arts and Auction Center, Lambertsville, NJ (October 2013)

Estimate: $14,000 – $19,000
Price Realized: $15,000

Tiffany Hanging Lamps

Tiffany Hanging LampsImage 11: Tiffany Studios Poppy Chandelier
Sotheby’s, New York, NY (December 2017)

Estimate: $200,000 – $300,000
Price Realized: $500,000

Image 12: Tiffany Studios Dragonfly Chandelier
James D. Julia, Fairfield, ME (June 2017)

Estimate: $100,000 – $150,000
Price Realized: $228,100

Image 13: Tiffany Studios Daffodil Hanging Chandelier
Cottone Auctions, Geneseo, NY (March 2017)

Estimate: $35,000 – $55,000
Price Realized: $51,750

Image 14: Unsigned Tiffany Studios Bronze and Leaded Favrile Glass Turtle Back and Geometric Hanging Shade
Doyle New York, New York, NY (September 2012)

Estimate: $8,000 – $12,000
Price Realized: $18,750

Image 15: Tiffany Studios Three-Arm Chandelier
James D. Julia, Fairfield, ME (November 2014)

Estimate: $10,000 – $15,000
Price Realized: $10,497

Image 16: A Tiffany Studios Favrile glass turtle back tile ceiling fixture
Bonhams, New York, NY (December 2014)

Estimate: $8,000 – $12,000
Price Realized: $8,750

Tiffany Desk Lamps

In case six-figure sums aren’t in your budget, Tiffany Studios also produced student and library lamps with geometric or favrile glass shades. Seeking these out, as well as some of the less popular motifs and original components of Tiffany lamps allow for buyers to “acquire Tiffany quality at a fraction of the price of the more elaborate leaded lamps,” says Andreadis.

Another more accessible option for those seeking Tiffany Studios lamps is the bronze base. While less breathtaking than their lampshade counterparts, original bases are still valued by collectors.

Tiffany Desk Lamps

Image 17: Tiffany Studios Bronze and Favrile Glass Desk Lamp
Doyle New York, New York, NY (June 2003)
Estimate: $10,000 – $15,000
Price Realized: $14,000

Image 18: Tiffany Studios Bronze and Favrile Glass Three-Light Desk Lamp
Heritage Auctions, Dallas, TX (November 2014)

Estimate: $2,000 – $4,000
Price Realized: $8,125

Image 19: Tiffany Studios Nautilus Desk Lamp
James D. Julia, Fairfield, ME (June 2016)

Estimate: $8,000 – $12,000
Price Realized: $7,702

Image 20: Tiffany Studios Bronze Counter-Balance Desk Lamp
Rago Arts and Auction Center, Lambertsville, NJ (March 2008)

Estimate: $4,500 – $6,500
Price Realized: $4,000

Image 21: Tiffany Studios Bronze Three-Light “Lily” Desk or Piano Lamp
New Orleans Auction Galleries, New Orleans, LA (December 2017)

Estimate: $800 – $1,200
Price Realized: $3,200

How to Identify Antique Tiffany Lamps

How can you tell that your leaded lamp is an original Tiffany lamp? Here are a few tell-tale hallmarks of an original Tiffany lamp:

  • Glass: Due to the age of original Tiffany lamps, the mosaic glass will likely produce a rattle if lightly tapped.
  • Base: Tiffany lamp bases were mostly cast in bronze, though with some exceptions.
  • Stamps: Nearly all Tiffany lamp shades and bases alike were stamped with the mark “Tiffany Studios New York,” along with a series of numbers.  

Tiffany Studios stamp on base of a three-light Lily lamp.

When in doubt, always contact a decorative art specialist, who can offer better insight on your particular example.

Click here to explore more from Tiffany Studios. Wondering what your Tiffany lamp is worth? Click here to have it appraised by experts.

Sources: Met Museum | Macklowe Gallery | CNBC