What some might consider to be a simple desk accessory has been locked in the treasure vaults of kings and collected by some of the world's most famous personalities. Collectors paperweights have increased steadily in value over the past thirty years--in 1990 one rare piece sold for the record-setting price of $258,000! The story of the glass paperweight begins in 1845--little more than fifty years after a mob beheaded Louis XVI and proclaimed France a republic. In this year the great glasshouses of France began to produce pieces of crystal that would permanently impact the history of glass art. Paperweights--for that was their original purpose--were initially produced as elegant gift items for sale to a burgeoning middle class. The pieces received an instant enthusiastic response The factories of Baccarat, Saint Louis and Clichy strived to surpass each other, and what was first sold as a gift, metamorphosed into a presentation piece. When nations were called to exhibit their finest accomplishments at London's Great Exhibition of 1851, France displayed paperweights. The French factories established a tradition of glassworking excellence that has lasted for 150 years and today the world's leading glass artists continue to include their most complex glasswork in crystal domes called paperweights But before that, we need to understand how glass art had evolved to allow the transition to paper weights. The best place to start would be following the trail of the murrinni or mosiac.
ROMAN BRONZE FIBULAE - First or Second Century A.D. A Disc fibula with riveted center boss and hinged pin. Circular panel contains three bands of enamel, separated by metal : alternating red and green petals for outer row; millefiori enamel sections with flowers having white dot center within a red annulet and blue petals on white background for the middle row, and red monochrome enamel for inner row. Pin is missing. Fragmentary outer row enamel. 1.5"
Face Beads(1) - Possibly Egyptian or Phoenician 2nd to 4th Century
Face Beads(2) - Possibly Egyptian or Phoenician 2nd to 4th Century
Face Beads(3) - Possibly Egyptian or Phoenician 2nd to 4th Century
Phoenician Glass Cane Beads (1) -1 st to 2 nd Century AD
Phoenician Glass Cane Beads(2) 1 st to 2 nd Century AD
Byzantine and Islamic Glass Cane Beads – 500 to 900 AD
THE FOLLOWING BEADS WERE MADE FROM CUT SECTIONS OF A GLASS MOSAIC CANE. THEY WERE FORMED BY DIPPING ONE CANE INTO GLASS OF ANOTHER COLOR AND SOMETIMES CONSECUTIVELY INTO A SECOND COLOR AND THEN SURROUNDED BY CANES OF TWO ALTERNATING COLORS. THE FINISHED CANES WERE THEN CUT INTO SECTIONS, WITH THE HOLE PENETRATING PERPENDICULAR TO THE LENGTH OF THE FINISHED CANE. THE DATING IS FROM 7 TH THROUGH THE 9 TH CENTURY A.D. AND ARE EITHER BYZANTINE OR EASTERN EUROPEAN. ACCORDING TO PRESENT KNOWLEDGE, IT IS DIFFICULT TO ATTRIBUTE THEIR STYLE TO ANY PARTICULAR CULTURE.
A french miniature tumble-up attributed to Clichy. The 4 1/8" diameter underplate has a blue and white swirl pattern and a very minor flake on the edge. The 3" bottle is in excellent condition with a blue and white swirl also. The matching miniature tumbler is 1 3/4" tall. Completely assembled, it stands 3 3/4" tall. $395.00 for the set.
Made by the Abrams Paperweight Co., of Pittsburgh, PA is this picture of Buffalo Bill. Patent date of Nov 29, 1892. The back of the paperweight has a milk glass casing. 2 1/2" by 4" by 1". $425.00
This English Sulphide paperweight is dated "1887 Jubilee", and is believed to have been made for Queen Victoria's 50th Anniversary celebration. A remarkable sulphide with a portrait of the young Queen Victoria. Unusual is this paperweight as the sulphide is standing up as opposed to laying flat. One minor surface spall. 2 7/8" diameter. 2 1/4" tall. $325.00
American Nosegay with Bee Cane Antique New England Glass Co. Nosegay with a rare "Bee" silhouette cane. The nosegay is surrounded by a variety of millefiori canes including the bee cane, and rests on a lattacino basket. Excellent condition….a wonderful weight. 2 1/2" diameter, 1 3/4" tall. $1150.00
This is a very nice and well made blue Poinsettia made by The Boston and Sandwich Glass Co.. The petals are royal blue and are placed around a central Lutz Rose. Well centered and quite stunning. Original surface finish. 2 7/8" diameter. $1150.00
New England Glass Company Open Concentric Paperweight consisting of millefiori canes of amethyst, aquamarine, cobalt blue, red, white and yellow. There are six "heart" silhouette canes. The design rests on a swirl lattacino ground. Twelve side facets and one top facet. Minor roughage on the facets and the remains of one small surface spall. A very attractive weight. 2 5/8" diameter, 1 3/4" tall. $750.00
Once known as "Whitefriars", these English paperweights are becoming identifiable as being made by a number of different factories, possibly Walsh-Walsh or Arculus. Millefiori canes of blue, white, green and red concentric rings form this paperweight design. One top facet and 5 side facets. Unpolished pontil. Excellent Condition. 3" diameter. $375.00
Henry Summa Dark Star Weight This series involves a black matte iridescent outer surface. One third of the piece is removed, then polished to reveal a "chalice" of bubbles suspended over a spiral column. Next is a clear layer with a "cobra" spiral wrap. The inner background of the piece has random lines and iridescence which "glow" when the piece is displayed on an electric light base.
Henry Summa 2 Reflecting World Weight This series features four layers of pattern that are "opened up" by diamond sawing away one third of the piece to reveal windows through the layers. The outside surface of this series has a pattern, as well as a matte iridescent finish. The final step is the cutting and polishing of 2 windows on the back curve of the piece; set at 45 degrees to the large front facet. These back windows act as mirrors "reflecting" the inner pattern over and over to the vanishing point within the weight.