Art Deco antiques are appealing to collectors because of their distinct aesthetic and rich history. However, there are a ton of reproductions on the market that are appealing in their own right. Some people might even prefer purchasing reproductions because of the cost savings.
If you’re looking to purchase an authentic antique from the 1920s, it’s important to be mindful of descriptions. Below are some quality items in the Art Deco style. Can you tell which is a reproduction and which is authentic? If you’re having trouble, read the description below each image to find out.
1Art Deco Glass “Spirit of Ecstacy” Hood Ornament Figure
By all accounts, this hood ornament looks original. It’s the right color, the right shape, seems like it’s expensive, and looks to be decent quality. However, this is actually a modern reproduction made using an original Art Deco mold. By using old molds, companies are able to “fake” an authentic antique more easily. Be mindful that this listing is tagged as being from the 1930s. But if you read the description carefully, it explains that this item is newly made in the Art Deco style. Original hood ornaments from makers like Lalique would be hundreds or thousands of dollars more.
2Frankart “Sarcophagus Girl” Metal Ashtray Stand
Here is an original Frankart ashtray from the 1930s. Frankart was a company out of New York that mass-produced nude figurines in the 1920s and 30s. These statues were generally made of white spelter metal and spray painted in shades of gold, bronze, or green. Each item has a stamp and patent number on the bottom, which can help authenticate the piece. Old Frankart molds are still being used to make items today, but this generally includes lamps and not ashtrays. Also, these reproductions are usually clearly marked as such.
3Small Art Deco Table Lamp
This Art Deco accent lamp is very clearly marked as a reproduction. There are several reasons someone may wish to purchase a new lamp, the most important of which is safety. We do not recommend using original Art Deco lamps in your home unless they have been professionally cleaned and rewired. However, when updated with modern wiring, period antique lamps are much more heavy weight and in many cases, more beautiful.
4Art Deco Spelter Lamp with End-of-Day Shade
This Art Deco lamp is original to the period. However, it has been refurbished to include updated wiring and a new socket and switch. Most of these figural lamps were made of a white spelter metal (a period-specific mixed metal) with a bronze-colored coating. This type of antique lamp is highly collectible, but it’s less desirable than bronze originals. Spelter antiques from the Art Deco era were much more common and far less expensive to make than their solid bronze counterparts.
Keep in mind, most reproductions (that aren’t bronze) are not made of spelter and are much more lightweight. Bronze statues can be difficult to authenticate if the casting is good quality because it’s easy to add a patina to bronze metal. Otherwise, bronze holds up well. Spelter, on the other hand, tends to show its age in ways that are harder to replicate. The surface could be more warn or corroded, or the top finish could wear away. The bottom also tends to show its age more readily than bronze.