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Louis Comfort Tiffany Stained Glass Appraisal, Removal, Restoration & Sale

When it comes to stained glass windows, certain artist such as Louis Comfort Tiffany and his company Tiffany Studios are in a category of their own; special care and attention must be taken when handling high-end windows such as these. Church Services Group has had the great privilege of helping appraise, remove, restore, crate, buy and sell many authentic, signed Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios stained glass windows throughout the years. We understand clearly the high-end stained glass market and have been able to get our clients top-dollar for their Tiffany windows. Additionally, since history preservation is our main goal, the majority of the Tiffany windows that we sell end up in locations where they are put on display and can be viewed by anyone for generations to come. If you, or someone you know, is in possession of a Tiffany window, feel free to email us to discuss the subject further.

Tiffany APPRAISAL

Though you can view our quick-guide to stained glass window appraisal down below, Tiffany windows need to be treated with extra care when it comes to valuation. Church Services Group has been involved in the stained glass market for over 30 years now and we understand how and why values ebb and flow over the course of time. 

Tiffany REMOVAL

We also have a stained glass DIY removal guide that you can view down below, however Tiffany stained glass window removals should only be attempted by individuals who have handled Tiffany glass many times in the past, such as Church Services Group.

Tiffany RESTORATION

In many cases, stained glass window removal goes hand-in-hand with restoration. For tips on basic false-leading and glass-panel replacement, see our guide down below. When dealing with Tiffany glass and other high-end windows, however, one should definitely consider the professional restoration that Church Services Group can provide.

Tiffany SALE

Over the past 30 years Church Services Group has developed an intricate network of contacts that is necessary when trying to sell a Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass window. Our past clients can attest to receiving top dollar for their Tiffany glass during highs and lows in the stained glass market.

Email us to discuss your Tiffany stained glass windows further.

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Sell Stained Glass Windows

With over 30 years of experience, Church Services Group knows how to get churches and individuals top-dollar for their stained glass window sale, all while making the process as smooth and seamless as it possibly could be. Our strength is twofold: [1] we fully understand the current stained glass window market and [2] we use that knowledge in combination with our extensive network that we have built with church architects and designers world-wide. Email us and we would be happy to answer any questions that you may have concerning stained glass window sales.

“Where can I sell my antique church stained glass windows?”

Looking to sell your stained glass windows? With nearly half a century in the business, Church Services Group has been a frontrunner when it comes to salvaging, restoring, and preserving sacred and historic stained glass windows. Churches, architects, and designers nation-wide, as well as world-wide, know and trust the name Church Services Group. We have helped furnish hundreds, if not thousands, of churches ranging in location from our home-state of Minnesota all the way to Australia.

“Isn’t the word “salvage” demeaning of antique church stained glass windows and artifacts?”

By definition, the term “salvage” is actually a quite beautiful way to describe such a wonderful process of rescue and restoration. Webster’s dictionary defines salvage as “the act of saving or rescuing property in danger”. Sometimes salvaged items are the most wonderful solely due to their rich history and story. Furthermore, based on Webster’s definition, some would even call God the “Great Salvager” of our lives.

“What does Church Services Group do with the stained glass windows that they salvage?”

Our primary goal has been to rescue, restore, and repurpose religious stained glass windows from around the world that would have otherwise been destroyed, misused, or left to sit in crates for an unspecified period of time. Through Church Services Group’s extensive network of connections, nationally and globally, a religious stained glass window will end up back in a church or chapel where it belongs 95% of the time. There are instances, however, where a particular window will end up in other locations such as a home chapel or even in a museum to be enjoyed and marveled at for decades to come, but that is the exception to the rule.

“Is it a problem to sell my stained glass windows if they are still installed?”

It’s not a problem at all. If your windows are still installed, we have extensive resources and experience to remove them for you. Our team has dealt with all sorts of unseemly window removals; from frail windows that literally fall apart in your hands… to overly-secure windows welded directly into a steel frame. 

Email us to discuss selling your stained glass windows further.

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Appraise Stained Glass Windows

There are many factors involved when it comes to stained glass window appraisal. Many places can offer you an insurance value appraisal but fail to mention that the actual market value of the antique glass is infinitely different. Church Services Group can help you sift through insurance value, actual market value, retail value, and wholesale value by emailing us here.

"What is the difference between insurance value, actual market value, retail value, and wholesale value?"

Click on the tabs to the right to find out more!

INSURANCE value

Insurance value is the amount of value that you give a particular item to be reimbursed by the insurance company in the unfortunate event of damage or theft. This value will typically be double, triple, quadruple, or even more that what the actual market value value currently is. It is best not to expect this amount when selling a stained glass window.

ACTUAL MARKET value

Actual market value, on the other hand, is the amount that the item will actually sell for in today’s market, taking into full consideration the state of the economy as well as current supply and demand levels.

WHOLESALE value

Unless you are fortunate enough to sell your stained glass to the end-user, then a wholesale value is a more realistic goal to reach.

RETAIL value

Retail value is comparable to actual market value, and is the ideal amount of money you could obtain for your window if a best-case-scenario situation were to take place.

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“What is the problem with insurance value?”

Stained glass is classified as “artwork” and therefore the price is a bit ambiguous— there can be historical value, heritage value, and even personal value attached to a piece of artwork. Insurance companies will tend to resort to a textbook price-per-square-foot appraisal, but this is dangerous as they will appraise a plain, 10’ geometric window the same as a 10’ Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass window, as both windows have the same square footage. Even if the insurance company does distinguish a difference between the plain window and the Tiffany window, they will still quote the window at an absurdly high rate since they do not want to undervalue the stained glass. It’s also good to keep in mind that the insurance company makes more money the higher they appraise an item at. 

Email us to discuss appraising your stained glass windows further.

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Remove Stained Glass Windows

Though still risky, small-scale stained glass window removals can be performed without professional training. Our step-by-step guide should help get you started. If you would rather leave the removal to the professional staff at Church Services Group to ensure the safety of your antique stained glass windows, please email us here to discuss further. 

“How do I remove a stained glass window?”

Listed below are the general steps for a typical stained glass window removal for the average DIY-er. Though it is possible to perform a removal on your own, please note that one small crack during a removal attempt could result in the loss of thousands of dollars in value. We would recommend using a company like ourselves who have removed thousands of antique church stained glass windows of every caliber; from inexpensive home windows… to record-breaking-sale Louis Comfort Tiffany windows. 

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Step 1: Remove the stops

Using a wide, flat tool such as a putty knife, wide chisel, or flat multipurpose knife, gently pry the wood stop away from the wood frame on all sides, being sure to note which stop needs to be removed first. The first stop to be removed will always be the stop that you can clearly see is not being hindered by another stop holding it in. While prying a stop up, use small amounts of equal force along the entire piece of wood, repeating as necessary until the stop is free.

Step 2: Scrap the resin

Once all stops have been removed, there will typically be a type of dried resin, or caulk, holding the window’s border lead in place. If the resin is loose enough, feel free to use the multi-purpose knife’s pointed edge to carefully scrap it out. Be sure to have adequate ventilation as well as a respiratory mask, gloves, and other protective coverings as the resulting dust may contain asbestos or lead particles. It can be extremely dangerous to undertake this sort of project without taking all of the proper safety precautions. 

Step 3: Decide about the re-bar

In most cases, especially with larger stained glass windows, there will be a steel re-bar [“reinforcing bar”] holding the window in place, which is designed for weight distribution in order to prevent sagging. If you are lucky, the bar will only be built into the stops, which would mean that the bar became free once the stops were removed. Unfortunately, that type of a removal is the exception to the rule and most bars are embedded deep into the wooden frame itself. If you need to save the frame, the only option is to sever the copper wires that attach the bar to the window and then Dremel the steel bar in half so that it can slide out from both sides of the frame. Note that this will put the window in grave danger as one slip with the Dremel could shatter the window. The alternative option would be to chisel into the wood frame around the bar’s location, allowing the bar to slide straight out with the window. Obviously the latter method will damage the frame as well as put the glass at risk since the pressure caused by chiseling out the wood will subsequently put pressure on the bar which will ultimately put pressure on the glass and possibly crack or shatter it.

Step 4: Pull the nails

Using a small lady foot pry bar, cautiously pry out the nails holding the border lead in place. To avoid damage, it is essential that you only pry against the remaining border lead, but only with a certain degree of force as the border glass is located inside the border lead and can crack very easily.

Step 5: Loosen the glass

At this point, due to the expansion of the wood over the years, the panels will still be tight. Once the wood stops, caulk, and nails have all been removed, you will need to either grab the bar or [if you’ve already removed the bar] grab the bar’s remaining copper wires and begin to gently rock the window out by pushing and pulling the window in and out at a slow-yet-steady pace. The remaining debris should start to come loose and the window will start to loosen. If no good handhold is available, an industrial glass suction cup can sometimes be mounted on the panel and used to help provide leverage. In any situation, be careful to pull only with the appropriate amount of force as pulling too hard while the window is still caught on some caulk or on a nail will result in damaged glass, while pulling too softly will yield no movement at all. 

“What are the risks involved in removing an antique stained glass window without the aid of a professional?”

Antique stained glass window removals always have their quirks because no 2 windows were installed the same way. They can be tricky and, without the right experience, can lead to mishaps such as cracks and bowing, which in-turn will lead to a major devaluation of the window’s overall worth. There is some merit in performing your own stained glass window removal, and, depending on your skill level, quite possible; however, the risk can easily outweighs the reward. Even the slightest hairline crack that forms through a face, hand, feet, etc of a figural window can devalue the window by $1,000 or more instantly due to refabrication costs of the newly-broken piece. Furthermore, the window will now be even less valuable since the new face, hand, feet, etc will be unoriginal to the rest of the antique glass. Even the smallest border glass crack would need to be repaired in a stained glass repair shop at a labor rate of around $50/hr.

“How can Church Services Group Inc aid in my window removal?”

Church Services Group has extensive resources and experience to remove any number of windows for you… safely. Our team has dealt with all sorts of unseemly window removals; from frail windows that literally fall apart in your hands… to overly-secure windows welded directly into a steel frame that require the use of a 7” industrial Dremel blade hovering at 4,000-RPMs just 10 centimeters above a 1/3rd million dollar window to free the panels. Talk about nerve-racking, but Church Services Group pulled off both jobs [and countless others] without a hitch.

Email us to discuss your stained glass window removal job further.

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Repair Stained Glass Windows

Looking to repair a stained glass window? Our step-by-step guide below will cover the basics of stained glass window repair, however for more extensive or large-scale repairs feel free to email us here to discuss further.

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“How do I perform a stained glass repair?”

We here at Church Services Group are more concerned about the preservation of historic stained glass windows than we are about making money — to the point where we lose business by telling our clients how to repair their own stained glass. However, we are definitely willing to put our tens-of-thousands of accumulated stained glass repair hours to work if you would prefer that our company repairs your window, or set of windows, for you. Otherwise, to DIY, read on to learn the basics of both “false-leading” and “glass-panel- replacement”.

FALSE-LEADING (step-by-step)

Step 0: ASSESS the situation

Even before “Step 1” the essential first step to stained glass repair is to determine whether or not the broken piece in question should be false-leaded or replaced entirely. False-leading is the act of severing a piece of lead came in half and placing it over a cracked piece of glass in an attempt to disguise it amongst all of the other lead lines in the window. Glass-panel-replacement, on the other hand, is just like it sounds: replacing a broken panel of glass with a new or identical panel. The choice really comes down to personal preference, as both methods can hurt the value of the window if done incorrectly; false-leading across a face or hand, for example, will noticeably stand out, though it keeps the entire window authentic with the original antique glass panels. In contrast, having an identical, reproduction face or hand created can be more visually appealing, you will lose the authenticity of the antique stained glass window. As a rule of thumb, if there are 3+ cracks in a single glass panel [also known as a “spider-web crack” or a “shatter”] the entire panel should be replaced. You can usually get away with false-leading 1 to 2 cracks without drawing too much suspicion.

Step 1: PREPARE the lead came

Creating a false-lead, also known as a “flange” or “dutchman”, is a fairly simple process when equipped with the right tools. Measure and cut a piece of lead came that has the same width as the other lead throughout the rest of the stained glass window. When cutting the came, make sure that you start out with a piece that is about an inch or two longer than the actual crack — you can always cut more off later. Using a small lead snips, cut into one of the ends as if you were trying to cut the entire thing in half into two long strips. Take two pliers or vice grips and attach them to both sides of the newly-made cut. Separate the lead came into two strips by pulling in opposite directions. You will end up with one strip of lead came that is smooth and flat and a second strip that is ridged and unusable for the intended purpose.

Step 2: MOUNT the lead came

Place the smooth, flat piece of lead over the crack, bending it to shape if the crack is not perfectly straight, and then cut it down to size. Once the lead strip is the exact size and shape of the covered crack, tape it down to the window using blue painters tape. Using a Dremel with an abrasion attachment or simply using an abrasive brush, clean the ends of the strip as well as the lead that it will be adhering to.

Step 3: SOLDER the lead came

Apply a generous amount of lead flux to the recently-cleaned ends of the crack-covering lead strip. Using a soldering iron and a spool of 60/40 solder, press the solder onto the tip of the soldering iron right above the area you would like the solder to adhere to. Once a bead or two has formed you will be able to flatten it out by gently pressing the flat side of the hot tip onto the bead. 

Step 4: ANTIQUE the lead came

Clean off any remaining flux with a soft, clean cloth. Using gloves and a respirator, apply liquid patina [also known as “black”] to the lead, making sure to not get any on the glass or your skin. The longer the liquid patina sits on the lead, the darker it will become. Once the new lead reaches a hue matching that of the rest of the original lead, use another clean cloth to wipe off the remaining liquid patina.

GLASS-PANEL-REPLACEMENT (step-by-step)

Step 0: ASSESS the situation

Even before “Step 1” the essential first step to stained glass repair is to determine whether or not the broken piece in question should be false-leaded or replaced entirely. False-leading is the act of severing a piece of lead came in half and placing it over a cracked piece of glass in an attempt to disguise it amongst all of the other lead lines in the window. Glass-panel-replacement, on the other hand, is just like it sounds: replacing a broken panel of glass with a new or identical panel. The choice really comes down to personal preference, as both methods can hurt the value of the window if done incorrectly; false-leading across a face or hand, for example, will noticeably stand out, though it keeps the entire window authentic with the original antique glass panels. In contrast, having an identical, reproduction face or hand created can be more visually appealing, you will lose the authenticity of the antique stained glass window. As a rule of thumb, if there are 3+ cracks in a single glass panel [also known as a “spider-web crack” or a “shatter”] the entire panel should be replaced. You can usually get away with false-leading 1 to 2 cracks without drawing too much suspicion.

Step 1: REMOVE old panel

Before you do anything, immediately cover the crack or shatter with clear tape in order to retain the glass piece’s shape for later tracing or recreation. Begin by flipping the window panel over to the backside that typically is not visible. Using a thin, flat tool, such as a sharp chisel, wedge the tool between the glass and the lead came and begin to slowly pry upwards in a clockwise manner. Continue to pry the lead up a little at a time while going around the perimeter of the broken glass piece until all of the lead is sticking up and the glass piece can be removed easily. You may need to put the tool perpendicular with the glass and lightly tap against it with a hammer as to flatten the lead out and create a wide birth for the broken glass piece to come out.

Step 2: RETRACE panel…

If it is a matter of simply recreating a plain, colored piece of glass, you can find sheets of replacement glass at a local hobby or glass store. In this case, put the broken piece of glass on top of the replacement glass sheet and trace the outside edges with a sharpie. Using a well-oiled glass cutter begin to make cuts and breaking the excess off as you go. The edges may not end up very smooth but a few runs on a diamond-bit glass grinder can take care of that problem in no time. 

Step 2: ...or RECREATE old panel

This option can run a hefty price but may be the only option if the piece in question is a cracked or shattered painted face, hand, foot, animal, garment, text, icon, etc. Remove the piece as described in “Step 1” and take the broken painted piece to a local stained glass studio to be replicated. Though the glass may not be original, some studios still have the capability to create a near-exact replica to the original. Once the new piece has been painted and fired in the kiln, it will be ready for installation.

Step 3: INSTALL new panel

Regardless of which “Step 2” you chose, the process of installing the new panel of glass will be quite the same. Slowly lower the new glass panel into the exposed, empty lead space where the broken piece was taken from. Using just your fingers, press the lead back down towards the glass. If necessary, use extremely light taps with a ball-peen hammer to mold the lead back into place. Apply liquid patina [“black”] to the affected lead area and wipe off clean. 

“Can I get further assistance?”

As with any delicate art-related project, it takes trial and error to become good at that particular craft. Trial and error can be great teachers, but the problem in this case is that those errors can be costly. With a poor false-leading or glass-panel-replacement job you could potentially devalue your stained glass window by hundreds to thousands of dollars. Whether you have 1 window or 100… and are simply looking for further instruction on repair or would like to discuss using Church Services Group’s stained glass repair and restoration services, please don’t hesitate to email us! We would love to help in any way that we can.

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Email us to discuss your stained glass window repair job further.

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Alteration and Framing Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass windows can be framed by many talented carpenters world-wide, however Church Services Group can save you time and money by performing the framing ourselves prior to shipping your window to its final destination. On top of this, we can also alter stained glass windows [within reason] to help better-fit any size constraints in its new home. Email us here to discuss custom window alterations and framing further.

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“Can a stained glass window be altered to fit my opening?”

Ideally we prefer to get in on the ground floor of a church being built so that a window can be drawn into the architectural renderings and transported “as-is” from its old home to its new home. Every situation that we have come across has not been ideal, however, and sometimes a window needs to be shortened, heightened, narrowed, or widened. Church Services Group can perform all of the aforementioned to help fit a window into your existing opening. 

“How do I get my stained glass window framed?”

As stated, there are many carpenters or craftsman in any area of the world who can help you create a frame for your newly purchased stained glass window[s]. However, if you prefer, we can save you the headache of trying to locate a good carpenter by using a trusted local company here in Minnesota to frame your window prior to shipping. This will result in additional fees associated with the framing, as well as a larger S&H fee due to the increased size of the crate, but will overall save you time and money since you will be receiving a finished product. 

Email us to discuss your stained glass window alterations or framing further.

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