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The Collectics Antiques Information & Education pages are designed to further knowledge of antiques, collectibles, collecting styles, periods, artists, designers, and manufacturers of fine and decorative arts. To learn more, our Antique Collector Bookstore lists only the best collector books and price guides, complied by surveys of top antique dealers and auction houses. For a different shopping experience, you can also browse our featured selections in a fun new way with the Antique Price Guides Slideshow or see current bestsellers by using Collector Books Topic Search.

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The Quezal Art Glass & Decorating Company was founded on March 27, 1902 by Martin Bach, Nicholas Bach, Thomas Johnson, Adolph Demuth, and Lena Scholtz in Queens, New York. The name Quezal was chosen for the rare and beautiful Central American bird the quetzal, and it was used in the company's literature to promote its products. Quezal art glass ranks with the very best of turn of the 20th century American art glass produced by Quezal contemporaries such as Louis Comfort Tiffany's "Favrile" and Frederick Carder's "Aurene" at the Steuben works. The President Martin Bach Sr. (1862-1921) was the key driver behind the growth of the company, emigrating from France - where he had worked at the Saint-Louis Glass Co. - to the U. S. in 1891. Following his arrival, Bach worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany as a chemist at the newly formed Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company in Corona, Queens. After almost 10 years of the best glassmaking education one could obtain at the turn of the century, Bach left Tiffany to establish his own company. Thomas Johnson, also a former employee of Tiffany, and Maurice Kelly were two of the early master glassblowers employed by Quezal, whose techniques led to some of the impressive technical accomplishments of Quezal art glass.

Quezal design patterns were extremely detailed and precise and their patterns intricate - as we know from their manufacturing documentation - so consequently the technical artistry of their glassmakers had to be very refined. Quezal glass was frequently decorated with floral motifs reflecting the focus on nature proliferating with the Art Nouveau movement, and it often used the gold interiors and iridescent glass techniques so popular at the time. One unusual and unique feature of Quezal glass is the brilliant iridescence which was infused on both the interior and exterior of the glass, and its iridescent colors of the rainbow mirrored the elaborate feathers and colors of the quetzal bird after which it was named. In fact, "pulled feathers" were a common feature in the exterior decoration of Quezal art glass. Quezal glass is green, gold, opal, and red, with red being the rarest of the major colors typically used. In addition to iridescent glass, Quezal also did other effects such as "The Glass That Looks Like Pottery", later known as "Innovation", and Quezal "spider" glass named for the way very threads of glass were pulled around the vessel, much like the way and with the look of a spider's web. While perhaps best known for their lamp shades which rivaled the best offerings of Tiffany and others, the company also produced a very wide range of items including vases, candleholders, drinking glasses, finger bowls, salts, compotes, and occasionally even complete lamps. Quezal lamp shades are particularly prized today, as they and all the major art glass manufacturers including Tiffany, Steuben, Galle, and Loetz all made lamps and shades during these early days of the electric light bulb.Quezal design motifs often incorporated flowers such as lilies, tuplips, crocuses, and jack-in-the-pulpits - much like their contemporaries at Tiffany and the other Art Nouveau designers - and glass threads were pulled and twisted to create the effect of leaves, vines, and lily pads. Shapes often reflect major design influences and civilizations of past periods including the Italian Renaissance, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Japan, and China. Period silver manufacturers including Gorham and Alvin bought Quezal glass and added their own sterling silver flourishes such as overlay and tops, and they then sold the pieces through their own sales channels.

Quezal glass is usually signed, with "Quezal" or "Quezal NY" etched into the glass or written with a stylus leaving a silver or platinum signature. Quezal art glass was always a luxury good like Louis Comfort Tiffany's Favrile glass, and both Quezal and Tiffany typically sold for higher prices than the top end French art glass of the day from Galle and Daum. During a period of financial challenges and following the death of Martin Bach Sr. in 1921, the company was sold to their family physician and friend Dr. John Ferguson. Ferguson later sold the company to his friend Edward Conlan, but he continued to serve as the company's president and Martin Bach's son served as the general manager. They operated the factory until 1924, and Martin Bach Jr. later worked at other major American glass makers including Durand and the Imperial Glass Co. Today, you can see displays of Quezal art glass and some of the original design sketchbooks, catalogues, and more dontated by the Martin, Clifford, and Gladyce Bach at the Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Village, in Millville, NJ.

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Tiffany Favrile Art Glass (Schiffer Book for Collectors) Frederick Carder and Steuben Glass: American Classics
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