You see, but you do not observe – By Barbara Steinberg.

You see, but you do not observe – By Barbara Steinberg.
Recently a very nice Art Nouveau back comb sold on E-Bay for a little less than the $2400 Buy-It-Now price. Dimensions: 6 inches wide by 5 1/2 inches high. The subject was Sycamore-maple-leaf seeds. The comb was made from horn with pearl seeds and signed, illegibly, with the number 14 next to the signature.
At first glance I thought it was Lucien Gaillard because he has made many hair ornaments with this theme.
Wrong.
Why? People get excited when they see something new. There are so few Art Nouveau-master combs on the market, it is easy to want to see something that isn’t there.
So what must you keep in mind?
1. Accuracy of observation: The great Art Nouveau jewelers were meticulous and passionate, but not sentimental. Decay was beautiful to them. Complex plique-a-jour enameling techniques were used to show variations in color and texture.
In nature, each Sycamore maple seed pod has a seed. A pair of pods would have a pair of seeds. This comb showed one pearl in between two seed pods. It is a lovely comb, but a master didn’t make it.
2. Style: Gaillard’s maple-seed pods are laid out symmetrically and face down. This comb had pods going in various directions. Also the tines were completely off for Gaillard.
3. Signature: The signature was not correct. There are a number of authorized Gaillard marks, even a picture of one on a hair pin. In the signature, or original box, lies much value.
Rene Lalique also made a Sycamore maple comb out of horn, gold, black onyx, and chalcedony in a completely different style.
In my ear, I could hear Sherlock Holmes saying, “You see, but you do not observe.” Compare the pictures. Observe, and thank you Alain Touzinaud of the Creative Museum