Finding a signature: This is usually the name of the artist or studio and the year of manufacture. If it was a large studio, you may be able to easily track down the studio's archives to learn more. The studio may still exist, or a library close to their studio's past location may now hold the archives. If it was a smaller studio or individual artist, the archives may be at their hometown, university, or state archives, or there may be no archives at all. For more information on the artist, you may need to search the local library or tax records.
If the window is unsigned, and still in its original location, it may have been part of the original design and construction of the home. One would have to rely on original receipts and construction drawings to be sure.
Catalogue windows: Many early American residential windows were selected from a catalogue and built just as any other element of the home would have been. This does not lessen their value in our lives, it merely means it was more common to add stained glass to your home 100 years ago than it is today! Catalogue windows trend toward simpler designs, mostly clear or opalescent glass in a lead matrix possibly with a central decorative element, but usually no painting or detailed scenes. It is nearly impossible to identify who might have manufactured a catalogue window.
If the window is unsigned and you have a note from a purchaser on the possible original location, that may be as good as it gets. It is extremely difficult to track a residential window without any specific markings or a signature design element that gives a unique clue to the maker.
With catalogue windows, a studio is used instead of an appraiser to determine the monetary value. If you are seeking an appraisal for informational purposes, such as for insurance or a conditions assessment, you can reach out to any Accredited Professional Studio in the Association and ask them for help with those issues. You can find a complete list of those studios on our website here
Since the concept of value is relative, there is no clear cut, “one size fits all” answer.
Monetary Value is usually the type of value that people consider. Monetary value can be:
Market Value: this is how much the windows are worth if you sold them to another party. Unfortunately, this can be very difficult to determine. Market value depends upon whether or not there is a market for your windows at all. Some of the finest windows in the world are too large or difficult to display if removed from their original setting, and some smaller stained glass windows tend to have a broader marker due to their portability. Having your windows appraised may be of some help. Especially if they have additional “antiquity” value. However, the old adage “they’re worth as much or as little as someone is willing to pay” holds true for stained glass.
Replacement Value: This is the most up to date cost of recreating the windows using currently available materials.
Historic or Cultural Value: any historical and cultural significance stained glass windows may have. Some factors that may increase a stained glass window’s historic and cultural value may include:
- Rarity, uniqueness, or irreplaceability
- Exceptional or unusual art, design, or craft technique
- Work from a famous designer or artist
- Work from a famous donor or memorial
- Location in a culturally or historically significant building or area
Artistic/Decorative Value: Artistic or decorative value is very subjective. Besides determining if the window is of high artistic quality is determining if the style of the window matches the architectural style of its setting i.e. German Style Painted Windows in a contemporary building.
Spiritual Value: Spiritual value may be of utmost importance for stained glass windows installed in churches or other houses of worship as stained glass windows can transform a building's interior into a conductive space for prayer and reflection. The windows also often themselves tell stories through their depictions of people and events. Many windows were also built as memorials to loved ones.