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A Tale of Two Tiffanys - Old Versus New

This is a tale of two Tiffanys, older made versus newer: We have located two interesting comparable Tiffany Audubon/Japanese patterned hollowware pieces currently for sale on Ebay.

  • Old Tiffany Water Pitcher - Tiffany Water Pitcher made in 1870 in the Japanese pattern.

  • New Tiffany Punch Bowl Set - Tiffany Punch Bowl Set made in year 2004 in the Audubon Pattern.

1870 Tiffany Japanese Pattern Water Pitcher

Click to see on Ebay

2004 Tiffany Audubon Pattern Punch Bowl Set

Click to see on Ebay

At first glance the two comparable patterned pieces are both very beautiful. However, upon further examination you will notice some distinct differences in the scope of the design and the quality and levels of workmanship between the old versus the new:

A. Birds Comparison In the new version, the birds are not applied on but instead chased or engraved onto the piece.

Year 2004 Version

The new version from year 2004 is hand chased and engraved.

Year 1870 Version

The 1870 version has the bird applied on to the piece and is raised up. The older piece has a more three dimensionality appearance.

B. The scene and story comparison - The new version has a somewhat simplistic scene and story to tell in comparison with the rich and lush authentic Japanese version of the older item.

Year 2004 Version

The bird is large and prominent and the background is lovely, but there is a lack of complexity and sophistication.

Year 1870 Version

In the 1870 Version, the scene and story are by far more in line with an intricate work of Japanese art that was made by a master craftsman.

C. The details of the workmanship compared - The new 2004 version appears that the chaser and engraver used only one tool in the box to more or less draw a nice picture on the body of a piece of silver. The 1870 version, however, shows a broad depth of tools and techniques used to create the decoration on the piece.

Year 2004 Version Chaser used only one mode method to chase the birds, branches, leaves and all the rest of all the decoration on the item.

Year 1870 Version

1870 version uses several different techniques including: Chasing, Applied decoration, Repousse,and Kaga Zougan inlay work with fired glass enameled inlay.

The outstanding Kaga Zougan inlay work with melted enameled glass inlay on the 1870 version is just extraordinary!


The designers and workman in year 2004 at Tiffany did a very nice job in crafting a beautiful piece of silver. However, there is just absolutely no comparison to the design and workmanship quality that was put into a similar like item produced in year 1870. The work put into the older piece must have tallied into the hundreds of hours in comparison to the work put into the piece made in year 2004 piece which likely only took tens of hours. There were also very advanced techniques used on the piece made in 1870, that are perhaps a lost art and could likely not even be produced today. How the Tiffany craftsman of the 1870's got that glass into those narrow crevices and made the glass craze and crackle into beautiful mosaic like patterns is beyond comprehension today and is likely a technique that only Tiffany's of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century was able to have ever crafted.

We Buy! We want to purchase silver pieces like the ones shown above! If you have items that you'd like to sell, or even just want to get an idea on valuation

please click the email us button for a quote.

Please send us photos, measurements and item descriptions. Thanks, Greg Arbutine

Silver Museum Owner

The Silver Museum buys sterling silver made by Tiffany. Please sell your Tiffany silver to The Silver Museum!

Note: The Tiffany flatware old versus new - We did not mention the Tiffany Audubon punch ladle shown in the above article for a reason. The Tiffany company has adhered to the same great standards in producing its flatware today, that it has used since its inception in the mid 19th century. They still use a drop press with dies and perform the necessary 18 production steps in creating each flatware piece. Tiffany has also kept the dies nicely tooled and sharp in the details of the patterns. If you buy any modern made Tiffany flatware pattern today, you are getting the same good quality and weight that there has always been. In our opinion it matters not on old versus new on Tiffany flatware. You get the same good quality either way.

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Dec 07, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Very interesting article. They just don't make them like they. used to!

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