Yesterday I made another attempt to acquire some decent mistletoe art nouveau material. This is a common occurrence for me, and usually ends in failure, though I have had minor successes. Yesterday’s episode (between returning from the druids and going to church) was typical. I bid for some Lachenal crockery that was up for auction on Ebay. Now ‘crockery’ is a bit rude, but that was effectively what it was advertised as being – as the Lachenal name was not mentioned in the descriptions. As all ebayers know, the way to sell is to include key words somewhere in the description, preferably in the title – and these lots had missed it out. And no one had bid at all – and just 15 minutes to go.
Perhaps I should put all this in context a little – mistletoe, especially in France and Germany, was widely used in Art Nouveau imagery and patterns, and there are many high quality mistletoe examples – ranging from cutlery and tableware, through pressed glassware bowls and chandeliers, not to mention all the jewellery, cigar boxes, vesta boxes and pens, sewing kits etc. For some examples go to my main website and click through to the Art Nouveau page (start with mistletoe in art).
Now this stuff is highly collectable, and some is extremely valuable – particularly the Lalique and Daum bowls and vases. You can always find examples in auction catalogues, and of course on Ebay. Don’t just search on mistletoe – include Mistel (German) and Gui (French) – but beware ‘Gui’ will give you lots of other stuff too – so be prepared to search through a lot of returns or learn how to construct your search selectively.
I keep a watching-brief on all this stuff online, and now and then try buying – if it seems cheap (I don’t even try for early Lalique – prices start in the £1000s). The Lachenal dinner service is a famous example of the genre, made especially appealing by having a differing mistletoe pattern on each plate/dish. They were a service made for readers of the Annales Politiques in 1896 An incomplete service was sold online recently for several hundred pounds – but the examples from yesterday were just 6 individual items, each listed separately by a seller in France. Without quoting the Lachenal name there was just a chance the usual collectors hadn’t noticed the sale.