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My glass collection began surprisingly enough with an award offered by the Acura dealer where I used to work; our employees had a choice of 5-6 different items such as watches, a camera, a personal radio, jewelry and a Lancelot large crystal bowl from Orrefors. Of the roughly 110 employees at the dealership I was the only one to select the Orrefors Lancelot bowl. It is a magnificent and beautiful design by Erika Lagerbielke; over the years I've amassed a large collection of Orrefors glass, most purchased on eBay and others from antique and thrift shops in the Northern Virginia area.
I have learned quite a lot about this company by researching each piece, either by searching the Internet or by contacting the factory directly. The customer service department at Orrefors has been very helpful in providing me with the pattern name and date for some of their older more obscure pieces. Knowing the designer and age of an art glass item significantly adds to my appreciation for the work and to the value if/when I decide to sell it.
Some things that I've learned in 10 years of purchasing Orrefors glass on eBay:
1. Some art glass listed as "Orrefors" is instead made by one of their precursor companies such as Strombergshyttan or other Swedish makers. When I notice this I sometimes will contact the seller and advise them about their incorrect description; some sellers revise their listing however many others leave the listing description "as-is" with incorrect information. I would not want to sell an item that was incorrectly described, firstly because the listing is not accurate -- and secondly I would not want to have the item returned due to being "not as described." In other cases the item is in no manner made by Orrefors or one of its' precursor companies; the seller having no expertise regarding art glass adds the Orrrefors name to the title and description in order to enhance the listing and attract interest in the auction -- if you look thru their current and completed listing you usually find that their other listed items are clothes, toys and non-collectibles.
2. There are many Orrefors items being listed with ridiculously high prices, usually due to the fact that the seller is not at all familiar with Orrefors glass (you can check their items for sale and their completed listings to determine this). The seller will sometimes describe the item as "rare" when in fact it is a widely distributed and common Orrefors design -- and not at all rare. If you look at the current Orrefors listings for "Corona" bowl you will find literally hundreds; this pattern is readily available new at markdown prices from many Internet glass sites but some eBay sellers are looking for an informed buyer to purchase one of these "overproduced" bowls. Some clues which denote a seller who has little or no expertise with Orrefors glass is a listing description such as "nice piece," photos taken with a Coca-Cola can next to the item, or listings lacking a clear photo of the base showing the engraved signature.
3. Almost all genuine Orrefors glass will have an engraved signature, with the exception of the earliest production which may have only a silver metallic foil Orrefors label. Their vintage glass will likely have the lower case "of" and 4 numbers denoting the pattern; later Orrefors will have the full "orrefors" name in lower case letters followed by either a single letter or two letters indicating the designer and again 4 numbers that describe the pattern. Beginning in the 1930's the company employed an engraved 4-digit sequential numbering system to identify the specific pattern. Glass with an engraving of flowers, butterflies, birds or women may also have additional engraved numbers or letters which represent the name of the engraver. Modern Orrefors glass is easily recognized by a lower case "orrefors" with "c" for copyright. The factory marks their "seconds" with a green Orrefors label rather than the usual red label; sometimes these are worth buying however if the price is too high you might want to think twice before purchasing a "second."
4. Most of the Orrefors that I've purchased on eBay have been close to perfect and accurately described, however I've received several items that had rather obvious scratches or damage that was not disclosed in the listing description. I believe that this was due partially to the seller not thoroughly inspecting the item rather than purposely selling an item that they knew had problems. If the purchase price was low or the item was rare I've usually kept it rather than seek a return -- and either not left feedback or left good feedback without stating "item not as described." Before placing a bid on an expensive Orrefors item I would recommend contacting the seller and asking them to do another thorough inspection to make sure that the item is free of scratches, water clouding, discoloration, chips or other imperfections. At least you will have done due diligence before paying too much for an imperfect item. Be advised that most internal water stains or "glass sickness" cannot be repaired. Some listings incorrectly state that damage such as chips and abrasions can be repaired however this is usually not the case -- repairs will generally not be successful and will definitely reduce the value of the item when you decide to sell it.
5. I find that Orrefors glass is a perfect investment and vastly underappreciated by the majority of the collectors of American glass. Most are more familiar with the names Waterford, Lalique and American pattern glass. Orrefors glass, especially their 1930-1970's production, shows beautiful and highly imaginative designs -- coupled with a perfection in manufacture unsurpassed in the glass industry. In general the types of Orrefors glass that have the highest value are 1) those produced during the 1930's-1950's, especially with unique engravings, and 2) their limited edition pieces done in the Ariel and Graal techniques -- also those which are signed "Expo" -- having been manufactured for a specific Exposition and signed by the individual artist.
6. I purchased a set of "Freeze" crystal candleholders on eBay (November 2012) that are in an original red Orrefors box and with red Orrefors labels affixed but was surprised to find very small plastic labels on the bases that read "made in Austria." Not aware that any of their production was manufactured anywhere but in Sweden I e-mailed the company and quickly received a confirmation e-mail that these had indeed been made in Austria. An Internet search for "Orrefors Austria" did not show any results; I would guess that most collectors are not aware that Orrefors Kosta Boda AG now has several manufacturing facilities outside of Sweden. Curiously the Orrefors website does not provide any information about these plants. An eBay auction for two Orrefors candleholders showed a plastic label "Made in Germany."