It's always worth doing your homework properly, checking any marks on a piece against your research. A few months ago, I found a rather amusingly mis-described item for sale. The seller knew exactly what it was, and described it accurately as an "Isle of Wight Studio Glass Fish vase designed by Michael Harris". They also noted that it was numbered 36 from an apparent edition of 500, and bore the inscribed range name of 'Mumbai Oasis'.
Any piece of Isle of Wight Studio Glass inscribed with such numbering identifies it as having come from the batch ordered by an American department store in around 1986. Each was inscribed with a number under 500, giving the impression of a limited edition. In fact, this means that it was one of 500 pieces ordered - and the batch included all manner of different shapes and sizes from many different ranges produced at the time. Expensive Fish vases were very much in the minority, with only a few being included. Each piece was also inscribed 'England', to comply with export laws.
As to the unusual 'range name' - that's easy! All these pieces were also signed by Michael Harris. Read quickly, his scrolling signature can look like 'Mumbai Oasis' to the uninitiated. Those in the know know that his signature adds a hefty premium to a piece, as he so very rarely signed his work. At this time, Michael was the only person with enough skill to make Fish vases, backing up the fact that this was certainly made by him. Interestingly, he only used gold leaf on this piece, presumably as it made more contrasting visual impact than silver leaf. Add to this the fact that it's a large example (9.5in/25cm high), and it's in the beautiful deep Azurene Blue that was only produced during Michael's lifetime in that form from 1985-87, and you have a VERY rare piece indeed.
But that hardly matters. The Fish vase is undoubtedly Michael's most iconic shape, and this treasure is truly stunning to look at - it's a great piece the owner should enjoy for many years to come.
Chelsea Flower Show
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