Some Murano Furnaces And Their Labels

A Resource for Collectors of labels used by:

Barovier and Toso
Seguso Vetri d’Arte
Vetreria Archimede Seguso
Seguso Dalla Venezia
Vetreria Fratelli Toso
Arte Vetraria Muranese (AVeM)
Vetreria Decorativi Rag. Aureliano Toso
Vetreria Gino Cenedese
Vetreria Alfredo Barbini

Dr Dale Dixon June 2020

The quality of Murano glass pieces in my collection has increased considerably recently. 
The one thing that has changed is that I decided to focus my collection activities on acquiring identifiable pieces. 
By identifiable, I mean glass that can be identified as coming from a particular maker either by comparison with known authenticated published pieces or glass that bears an authentic label or mark known to be used by a maker. 
Having this criterion has really focussed my attention on quality Murano pieces. 
Not only have I focussed on the labels that the various furnaces used on the glass they produced, but I have also delved into the techniques used in an effort to apply a wholistic approach to glass identification.
This ability to ‘read the glass’ is especially important when considering the purchase of unmarked pieces.
It should be noted that labels were never meant to be used to identify glass, however, their ubiquitous presence on the glass that we collect always leads to questions of ‘Who made it?’ and ‘How old is it?’. 
Many authors including Barovier ed., (1997), Heiremans (2002), Pina (2004), and Heiremans (2020) provide discussion on label identification and in some cases guides to the years that they were used by each furnace. 
Additionally, the two largest Murano Glass Facebook groups have accumulated extensive albums of authentic labels that identify the maker or identify authentic Murano-made glass. 
The label images used in this paper come predominantly from these albums and my own collection. 
Supplementary labels have also been sourced from published material, the internet, and from items archived on various sales sites.
 
A word of caution though! Labels should not be the sole means used by a collector to identify their glass. The preferred method of identifying any glass is by direct observation. Labels certainly can be the starting point, but most experienced collectors will instead look at all elements of a glass piece first to ensure that the collective information such as shape, décor, and technique corresponds with the identity of the affixed label – i.e., do they all agree? If so the label can be trusted, if not then further investigation is required. For the inexperienced collector this can be difficult, but with time it certainly becomes easier. Many inexperienced collectors accept the identity of their glass based on the affixed label. This is a function of their inexperience, the inability to find the information required to assess a piece further or more simply, the information is beyond their reach. For this reason, there should always be an acknowledgment that errors in label application can occur and that further evidence may refute the label identification.
Much of the glass that collectors focus on has been produced by furnaces that have been in existence for many decades. Indeed, my collection focus is for glass from the 20th Century. The furnaces of Vetreria Fratelli Toso and Barovier and Toso, for example, have been producing glass for over 100 years. Labels have been used by these furnaces for many years and examples can be seen in the tables below from the late 1800s and early 1900s. According to Heiremans (2020), Arte Vetraria Muranese (AVEM) exported 90% of its production to the United States. Prior to 1947 labels on their export glass were of a generic nature and stated ‘Import’ or ‘Foreign’. Post 1947 the use of a mandatory label stating ‘Made in Italy’ was required by United States law. Despite, these foreign laws the Muranese glassblowing factories have developed, adopted, changed, and regularly updated the labels used on their glass. By accessing published information and the wealth of information archived in the Murano Glass Facebook groups, collectors can now match labels with furnaces and in some cases assign a date range to the production of their pieces.
 
The idea for this paper was developed from the label information provided by Barovier ed., (1997), whereby examples of the Barovier and Toso labels and the years they were used by the furnace were presented in chronological order. Sharing actual images of these pages is restricted by copyright. However, the same label resources are available from member contributions albeit spread between the two Facebook groups. These resources are excellent and there is a wealth of information contained in the notes under many of the labels. But, where once these albums had the ability to be ordered, this function has been ceased by Facebook and additional entries are thus not ordered now by the maker. Being a member of both Facebook groups has allowed me to combine the unique resources of each group into one paper.

Decoding Label Information

In this paper, I have gathered and arranged in chronological order the labels and their accompanying data for the following furnaces: Barovier and Toso, Seguso Vetri D’Arte, Vetreria Archimede Seguso, Seguso Dalla Venezia, Vetreria Fratelli Toso, Arte Vetraria Muranese (AVEM), Vetri Decorativi Rag. Aureliano Toso, Vetreria Gino Cenedese and Vetreria Artistica Alfredo Barbini. I have also attempted to put the labels for each furnace in chronological order. Sometimes, however, this is not possible as the data is not present, is unknown or I currently do not have access to it. For this reason, I welcome feedback with additional information.
When using labels, collectors should take the time to study the characteristics and the details that can be found on labels. The characteristics of labels have changed over time, so it is important to ascertain if the label is paper, foil on paper with embossed print, foil on paper, cellophane or plastic. Does the label have a cut edge? Are the corners square or rounded? Does it look like a postage stamp torn from a larger sheet? Knowing these basic details can also help date a piece of glass. Details on a label can vary subtly and close examination is required. Some tips for the unsuspecting collector include observing label variations between seemingly identical labels; critically examining label fragments; understanding the difference between artistic and export labels; how to use import labels and most importantly the cautions of use.

Label Variations.

There can be subtle variations in labels and if these are not observed in detail can lead to incorrect identification of production dates. For example, the two paper labels used by Barovier and Toso in Figures 1 and 2 were used during different periods. The difference apart from color variation is that the label in Figure 1 has a white band around the border of the name banner. The other subtle variation is the rounded corners of the label in Figure 2. The label in Figure 1 was used from 1936 to 1955, while the label in Figure 2 without the white border was used from 1956 to 1970 (Barovier, ed., 1997).

 

 

 

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

 


There are two seemingly identical labels found on Archimede Seguso glass. The oval-shaped scalloped edged label was used by this furnace on their artistic glass (Heiremans, 2002). Whether or not these can be linked to a time period is yet to be verified. Apart from the apparent variations in color, these labels appear identical. Note the two labels in Figures 3 and 4. They appear to be identical, but they differ in the number of scallops around the edge and the font of the letters. Look carefully at the letter ‘S’ in Seguso and compare it with both labels. They also appear to vary in color. This could be a result of different dye lots used in the manufacture of the labels. It could be caused by fading of the color over time, or it could actually be a gold label.

 

 

Figure 3. 24 scallops

Figure 4. 28 scallops

 

Label Fragments

The glass in my collection is predominantly from the mid-century modern period (1933 - 1965). The glass pieces produced at the beginning of this period are now reaching 90 years of age. During this time the glass has probably accumulated some wear. 
Any labels that were present at the time of purchase could have worn considerably and be present as fragments or vague silhouettes. 
These partial labels can reveal a lot of information if you are familiar with the features of the fully intact labels. 
The label in Figure 5 is the same as in Figure 6 but on its own gives no clue to the actual maker. 
The few words/letters/numbers on the label and the fragment of the decorative border are identical to the label in Figure 5 that identifies the furnace as Arte Vetraria Muranese (AVeM).

 

 

Figure 5.

Figure 6.

 

Partial labels should never be removed from glass pieces, even if the fragment cannot be matched to a known label at the time of assessment. 
At some stage someone will recognize the shape or pattern and if the fragment is removed that information is lost forever. 
Figure 7 is an example of a label (on the left) that reveals very little information.

 

 

 

Figure 7.

 

 

 

However, a closer look reveals some very useful information. There is a silhouette of a round scalloped edge, a small area of the label surface bearing the original red background, and part of a letter present. When compared with labels that have a scalloped edge its identity is revealed as the export label of Vetraria Archimede Seguso. The letter is revealed to be the ‘T’ of Italy.

Export Labels

Some furnaces used different labels to differentiate between their artistic and export glass. For example, Vetreria Archimede Seguso used the large oval shaped scalloped labels in Figures 3 and 4 on their artistic glass and the smaller round 21 scalloped edged label as shown in Figure 8 on their mass-produced export items (Heiremans, 2002). It is possible that the similar label in Figure 9 with 16 scallops was also used to designate export glass, but perhaps at a later date.
 
From 1946 to the 1970s Arte Vetraria Muranese (AVEM) used what is colloquially called the ‘AVeM Star Label’ (Figure 10.) on their non-artistic export glass (Heiremans, 2002). The label stating ‘Genuine Venetian Glass’ (Figure 11) could be a variation used by the furnace as it also bears a star, but this needs to be further corroborated.

Vetreria Fratelli Toso used the round blue foil ‘Murano Glass – Made in Italy’ label (Figure 12) specifically for its export glass (Pina, 2004). However, although this blue and silver label has predominantly been found on Vetreria Fratelli Toso glass there have been some recent examples where this is not the case. This strengthens the argument of always examining the characteristics of the glass to corroborate identification.

 

Figure 8.

Figure 9.

Figure 10.

Figure 11.

 

Vetreria Fratelli Toso used the round blue foil ‘Murano Glass – Made in Italy’ label (Figure 12) specifically for its export glass (Pina, 2004). However, although this blue and silver label has predominantly been found on Vetreria Fratelli Toso glass there have been some recent examples where this is not the case. This strengthens the argument of always examining the characteristics of the glass to corroborate identification.

 

 

 

 

Figure 12

 

 

 

 

Identification by Association

Glass pieces can often be identified by label association. For example, The Castle import label (Figure 13) is known to occur predominantly on glass produced by Vetreria Fratelli Toso. Similarly, the small red and silver ‘Made in Italy’ label (Figure 14) has only been found in association with the Castle import label. When found on their own they can be a good starting point for the identification of Vetreria Fratelli Toso glass. However, as these labels have also been used by other furnaces they do not immediately authenticate a Vetreria Fratelli Toso piece.

 

Figure 13

Figure 14

Figure 15

 

The association of these export labels is not always useful. The green export label present with the Castle Import label in Figure 15, has been used by many furnaces and on its own cannot be used to authenticate a piece of glass beyond being of Murano production.
 The Decora Imports label (Figure 16) occurs, with some exceptions, on glass from Arte Vetraria Muranese and on its own can be a good starting point for an indicator of origin. 

Figure 16

 

 


Stock labels found on glass are often unique and can be used to identify a furnace. The atomizer in Figure 17 bears a ‘Made in Italy’ label with the number #5643. This style of stock label is linked to Vetraria Rag. Decorativi Aureliano Toso. Often, the numbers written on the stock label can be decoded and provide further evidence. This example, also bears the model number used by Vetraria Rag. Decorativi Aureliano Toso for the Dino Martens designed ‘Filigrana semplice-atomizer’ from 1954. Figure 18 is a stock label of Vetreria Gino Cenedese. When the number format on the label occurs as xx/xx the second number is the year in which the model was designed. In this example, it is 1965, but this may not actually be the year the model was produced. It’s always a good idea to check, but sometimes the numbers present on stock labels do not match with known model numbers.

 

Figure 17

Figure 18

 

Cautions
There are inherent risks when choosing to buy pieces based solely on the presence of a label. Labels are known to ‘walk.’ Unscrupulous sellers have been known to lift labels from one piece and apply them to other pieces, presumably to increase their value. It is well known that reproductions of authentic labels can be bought in sheets and applied by sellers to low quality glass, again to increase value. These are well-known examples of the lengths some sellers will employ to artificially enhance the value of a glass piece. This is a reminder to always look at the glass and try to match the design, décor, shape and any other attributes with a known maker. It’s also a reminder to critically assess any label affixed to the glass and assure yourself that it is genuine. Always remind yourself that there are outright fake labels that closely mimic legitimate labels.

Some guidelines when using labels to identify glass:

  1. Check the characteristics of the glass you are identifying. Do they match known characteristics of the furnace that the label identifies?
  2. Check the label appears in the Authentic Label Album.
  3. Double-check that there is not a similar label in the fake/misleading label album.
  4. Did the furnace produce glass with the techniques evident in the glass piece? Check for similar examples.
  5. Post an ‘out and about’ request to the group seeking advice.
  6. Post the sales link to the group to seek advice.

The Furnaces and Their Labels

The following tables of labels have been complied using information from published resources, discussions with various collectors, my own personal collection and experiences, and the incredible resources held by the two largest Murano Glass Facebook groups – ‘Murano Glass’ and ‘Murano Glass, Italian Art Glass, Empoli’. Wherever possible the years of operation are given for each furnace and the known date ranges for the labels used. Note this is not an exhaustive record of labels, but more an organization of information into a usable
format and a discussion of tips and tricks to help collectors identify labels and dates used. It is intended that when additional information is discovered the document will be updated. NOTE: dates of use are cited in the row above the labels in each table.

     

    Barovier and Toso 1883 to present 

    1878 to 1914

    1919 to 1934

     

     

    1936 to 1955

     

     

    1956 to 1970

     

     

     

    1971 to 1984

     

     

     

    1985 – 1990s

    1981 to 2001

     

     

     

    Seguso Vetri D'Arte 1933 to... 

    1937 to 1946 (post war)

    1937 - 1946

    1942

    Late 1940s – early 1960s

    1960s – 1970s

    1980s

    1990s

    Year unknown

    Year unknown

     

     

     

    Label on left AS or SVdA?

     

     

    Vetreria Archimede Seguso 1947 to present  

    Mid 1950s – 1980s

     

     

    The labesl above were used on their artistic glass.

    It was most likely used on pieces sold in Archimede Seguso’s own gallery shop as it bears this address.

     

    1950s -1980s

     

     

    1950s - 1980s

     

     

    Two versions of the round scalloped edged export label. Note the difference in the number of scallops around the edge.

    c. 1950

     

    1960s -1970s

    The 21 scalloped edged label on the left is from a verified Archimede Seguso piece. Confirmed by GN.

     

    Label on right is exclusive to their gallery shop Milan.

    Plastic labels 1970s

     

     

     

    1980s

     

     

    Note: the oval shaped label above replaced the scalloped label in the mid 1980s. This is a flat label not embossed.

     

     

     

    Seguso Dalla Venezia 1951-1965 

    1951

    1960s

     

     

      

    Vetreria Fratelli Toso 1854-1980

    1903/1904 - 1914

    1930s

     

     

    ?1950s?

     

     

    ?1950s – 1960s?

    ?1950s – 1960s?

     

     

    ?1960s – 1970s?

    ?1960s – 1970s?

    Late 1960s - 1970s


    Arte Vetraria Muranese A.Ve.M. 1932-1972 

    ?1933 - ????

     

     

     

    1940 - 1964

    1940 - 1964

    1945-1960s

    1946 – 1970s

     

     

     

     

     

    The labels on the left are yet to be verified as AVEM labels.

     

    Vetreria Decorativi Rag. Aureliano Toso 1938-1976 

    1950s – stock label

    1950s Paperweight

    1954 on Model #5643

    1960s Export label Model 10030 - 1964

    1967 – export label DeVilbiss

     

     

    1952

    Late 1950s throughout 1960s

    Late 1950s throughout 1960s

    Late 1950s throughout 1960s

     

     

     

     

     

    Year unknown

     

     

     

     

    Year unknown

     

     

     

    1938 – on Model 744

     

     

     

    1950s – on Oriente Vase

     

     

     

    Year unknown

     

     

    The labels to the left were found on solid squirrel figurines. Year of production yet to be matched with a model number and year.

    Year unknown ?1970s

     

     

     

     

    Vetreria Gino Cenedese 1946 to present 

    1946 – 1950s (silver foil on paper)

    Up to the 1950s (paper)

    1960s

    Mid 1960s – ealy 1970s

    1960s

    Year unknown c. 1970s

    Early 1970s

    Early 1970s

    Early 1970s

    Early 1970s

    reintroduced 1980s

     

     

    Vetreria Alfredo Barbini 1950 to present 

    1950 - 1959

    1960s

    1960s

    1960s

    c. 1950s - 1960s

    1960s

    Late 1970s

    2002 - 2016

     

    Note: the two labels on left are clear plastic.

     

    Acknowledgments:

    I’m very much appreciative of the time Elisabetta Ravaioli and Dave Kingsley have spent providing me with advice and additional information on labels and their use. And for access to the resources of the Murano Glass, Italian Art Glass, Empoli Facebook groups. Rosie Pearce for the access to the resources of the Murano Glass Facebook Group. Jeana Jones for ongoing discussion. Tammy Roberts for access to publications that I don’t currently own. To all members, past and present, who have provided the resources archived in each Facebook group.

    References:

    Barovier M. ed., (1997). Art of Barovier, Glassmakers of Murano 1866-1972 (2nd ed.), Arsenale Editrice.
    Heiremans, M., (2002). Murano Glass, Themes and Variations, 1910 – 1970, Arnoldsche. Pina, L., (2004). Fratelli Toso, Italian Glass 1854-1980, Schiffer.
    Heiremans, M., (2020). A






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