We were lucky enough to have a behind the scenes look at the Tiffany lamp bases housed in the Queens Museum of Art….
Lindsy Parrott, Curator /Director, and Susan Greenbaum, Conservator, of the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass showed us around. The Neustadt Collection was formed in 1969 and partnered with the Queens Museum in 1995. On the way to the museum we also enjoyed a brisk walk through Flushing Meadows Corona Park, site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs.
Dr. Egon Neustadt, along with his wife Hilegard, began collecting Tiffany works in 1935 and became one of the first serious collectors of Tiffany. In addition to amassing over 300 lighting fixtures, Dr. Neustadt also collected Tiffany windows and desk sets. In 1967, he also acquired over 500 crates containing approximately 275,000 pieces of sheet and pressed glass pieces that were left over from the closing of Tiffany Studios in the 1930s. These objects form the basis of the Neustadt Collection.
Tiffany made glass less than two miles away from the Queens Museum in Corona, Queens. Despite all of the scholarly work on Tiffany glass, little research has been done on Tiffany metal or lamp bases. Early bases were made from spun copper and in 1897 Tiffany opened a bronze manufactory at the Corona facility. The bases and glass shades made by Tiffany were meant to be interchangeable. Not surprisingly, more bases than shades have survived due to the fragile nature of the glass. The Neustadt Collection has more than 100 bases in its holdings.
The bases were offered in various sizes, patterns, and patinas. Many have beautiful detailing such as this lily pad on/off switch:
Because of the popularity of Tiffany, there is always a question of authenticity. The Neustadt Collection keeps a group of known fakes for connoisseurship purposes.