Harrach Fairy Lamp Identified
Fairy Lamp Club Newsletter, Issue XXIV, August 2002
In December 1979 I bought this fairy lamp for $60 and brought it home tucked inside my motorcycle jacket. Needless to say, a lot has changed since then. (I no longer ride a motorcycle.) J
The dome is blue satin with embossed vertical ribs, cased in white, with finely detailed floral decoration outlined in gold. The dome rests on a standard Clarke ribbed and beaded lamp cup. The matching base, blue satin cased in white, is a typical central column design with matching decoration. In addition, this base has another very distinctive feature a "green face."
Inside the central column is, what I have always referred to as, a "green face." It is a hand-stamped mark that I assumed was the maker's mark and the key to identifying the origin of this fairy lamp. But, until now, the mark has been a mystery.
Recently, I posted an inquiry to the on-line Art Glass Discussion Group. I thought this group of knowledgeable art glass collectors, dealers, and researchers would surely be able to identify this mark. They did not disappoint me.
The mark is not a face at all. Instead, it is a "propeller." Well, it is not a propeller either, but that is the "rest of the story."
The mark is considered by many to be the trademark of the Harrach Glass Company, a prestigious and very prolific Bohemian glass company during the Victorian era. The company, founded in the early 1700's, produced 700,000 pounds of finished glass in 1885 and a record 1.5 million pounds in 1900 employing over 500 people. (Ref: Collectable Bohemian Glass, 1880-1940, Robert & Deborah Truitt) I think it is important to note that these amazing production records coincide exactly with the peak of fairy lamp popularity. Coincidence?
The mark was once thought to be by Thomas Webb and referred to as the "propeller mark." However, Charles Hajdamach, in his "British Glass, 1800-1914", page 450, says that there is no proof that such a mark was ever used by Webb, and thinks it more likely that pieces marked in this way are Continental, probably Bohemian, in origin.
Many collectors now believe the mark actually represents the three feather plumes of the Harrach family crest. However, the mark on my fairy lamp still looks like a "face."
My good e-friends in the Art Glass Group (several are members of the Fairy Lamp Group as well) provided me with other examples that show how poorly the mark was applied and indicated they have seen many other examples as poor as mine.
Looking at the above examples it is easy to see how the "propeller mark" could easily be so poorly applied as to look like the "face" on my fairy lamp.
So, as with so many other discoveries, there are more questions to be asked. Certainly, at the top of the list is, "What other fairy lamps did Harrach produce?" Perhaps, given the diversity of their products and the prolific production during the heyday of fairy lamps, many more than we realize. Perhaps, even some that have been attributed to English manufacturers. But, that's another research project for another time.
Fairy Lamp Club Home Page
Fairy Lamp Discussion Group