Recently I received a query from Keith Tripi about the desirabily of buying an entire collection of Kralik glass with applied and stuck decoration. I had to think long and hard about what my answer would be. It took me all of 25 years to get the two examples I wanted for my collection.
Applied decoration was used by the Loetz company since the 1890's and is of outstanding quality. Vases are found with coiled serpents, rigaree, prunts, tadpoles, shells, and threading. But Kralik, Rindskopf and many other manufacturers also used these applied decors. Therefore, to assume, for example, that the presence of rigaree constitutes a marker for the Loetz Nautilus line, or that if a vase has tadpoles or claw decor it is a Loetz Coppelia is onot only wrong, it can also constitute deception when it is done to market items in the wrong category.
Stuck decoration stands out on the surface of the vessel. It commonly consists of leaves, fruits and flowers, and it is extremely susceptible to damage. Applied decoration tends to be more level with the surface of the glass; it does not stick out as much. The photograph below, provided by Mr. Tripi, shows how the difference between applied and stuck on really lies in the eye of the beholder. Do notice that though in this picture most of the vases are white martelé, other surface treatments occur, such as the "urchin" decor in the front row right basket. Others include frosted and glatt (matte iridescent).
1. STUCK ON/APPLIED DECOR GROUP
Before creating this page, I did some research on E-Bay. Under Loetz I found only 38 vases that could properly be identified as such. I also found 11 pieces with applied decor--identified as Loetz, Nautilus, Coppelia, Floral and even Olympia opal-- that are all Kralik. Predictably, I found only five pieces of applied decoration under Kralik. It is clear that most Kralik with applied decoration ends up as Loetz on E-Bay, with the corresponding price difference. Dealers love to claim innocence and ignorance when it comes to these matters. However, there is enough information on Internet nowadays that dealers can utilize to identify their glass correctly. The "too many expensive books" excuse does not hold water any longer, though there is always the excuse of "not enough time".
Let us begin with the most notorious misidentification: Loetz Nautilus and its Kralik look-alike. Loetz Nautilus has a gold (or silver) rim; gold or silver rigaree; and it is always white martelé. Green rims and rigarees appear as well in Creta Chiné vases, but THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM NAUTILUS. Loetz Nautilus always has a pontil, a rim and either rigaree or prunts. The glass is heavy to the touch. Mine are both 11" tall.
1. Nautilus vases, AVC collection
APPLIED DECORATION: BASICALLY, IT DOES NOT REALLY PROTRUDE FROM THE VASE, BUT LAYS ON ITS SURFACE.
Let us compare the vases above with this vase, which appears on E-Bay as Loetz Nautilus for far more than what I paid for either one of mine.. Lightweight glass, blown in a mold, cut from the top, no pontil, no finished rim. Even the shape points to Kralik.
3. Kralik's Nautilus knock-off on E-Bay
This other shape is a marker for Kralik;; though smaller, it is better finished. The rigaree may appear in different colors: green, clear, or gold, as in the example below, which sells for $295 on E-Bay . . . as Loetz::
4. Kralik gold rigaree.KRALIK THREE PRONG TADPOLE DECOR
The following is a variant of the above. Notice the use of glatt (soft) iridescence on smooth glass. It's a three pronged tadpole or claw, as you fancy it. Notice the green rim. However, IT IS NOT LOETZ COPPELIA, as it is being marketed for $350 on E-Bay--please refer to the decor section of loetz.com
6. Kralik "Coppelia" knock-offKRALIK SCALLOP CLAW DECOR
Kralik produced a line of vases in green glat with blue or gold scallop claw decoration. This is a more spread version of that same decor, offered on E-Bay for $195.
7. Kralik Scallop claw decorationIn my collection I have these two examples of the claw decor, in gold and blue:
KRALIK STARBURST DECORATION
Another variant, this time more like an exploding star or flower:
10. Kralik green starburst decor
This next vase is identified as "Stevens and Williams Bohemian Kralik", with a dealer's bet on the first. However, it's one of the few good buys to be had. Notice the color combination: green rim, gold starburst.
11. Kralik gold starburst
KRALIK FIVE PETALED GREEN FLOWER
This decor appears on both martelé and smooth. It is a conscious take-off on Loetz's leaf clover decor (It does not show up in Cantz; see Neuwirth, Loetz Austria 1905-18, 37:161-163, pic. 145).
11. Five petaled flower on martelé
Craig Orkney has provided a picture of a vase in the same shape as n.5: shape is a Kralik marker.
12. Smooth five petaled leaf decor
If anyone out there has pictures of vases with variations not yet on this page, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org . Please keep them 600X800 pixels tops. Larger pictures do not download well and occupy too much space.