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Paperweights - from
A short discussion of glass paperweights:
The Glass Encyclopedia
Glass paperweights were first made in Europe, probably in Venice in the late 15th century. Some of the earliest surviving examples were made in France from about 1750 onwards and in England from the early 1800's using sulphides (ceramic cameos) as the centrepiece in a ball of clear glass.
The Venetians revived the Roman millefiori (thousand flowers) techniqe of creating a design within a rod of glass. This was done by clustering together rods of different colours to form a design and then fusing these rods into one, pulling it out to make one long thin rod, and cutting it into sections. These sections were (and still are) cut into slices each slice with the same cross-sectional design (often a flower, sometimes a figure or a letter or date).
To make a millefiori paperweight, these slices of cane were put together to form a pattern which was picked up on a ball of molten glass and then shaped to form the paperweight. The resulting millefiori paperweight usually had a layer of canes with a dome of perfectly clear crystal glass over the top completely encasing the coloured sections. The Venetians exhibited this kind of paperweight at the Austrian Industry Exhibition in 1845. The French and the Bohemians had been developing similar ideas at about the same time.
The period from 1840 to 1860 is often referred to as the Classical Period of paperweight production. This was the time when the great French glassworks at Clichy, Baccarat, and St. Louis led the world with the quality and creativity of their paperweights. Other countries followed their lead, and in the USA two major paperweight manufacturers were the New England Glass Company and the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company.
Another important technique of making paperweights is by creating flowers, fish, animals, insects, etc. using lampworking techniques, and encasing these miniature items in a globe of glass, so creating a little artificial world trapped in a ball of glass.
Interest in making paperweights declined in the early years of the 20th century, and it was collectors such as Paul Jokelson in the USA who revived interest and encouraged glassmakers to make paperweights again.
Today's contemporary paperweight makers are producing some truly stunning creations, rivaling anything ever produced in the world. There are miniature botanical fantasy worlds from Paul Stankard; diatreta masterpieces by Barry Sautner; beautiful bouquets in glass from Victor Trabucco; Rick Ayotte's bird and flower scenes; Peter Raos's marine and floral scenes from New Zealand; to mention just a few of the master glassmakers. There are also studios and glassworks all around the world producing magnificent paperweights designed by artists and made by teams of glass workers. The great Baccarat glassworks in France, their rivals over many centuries, St Louis; several major USA studios, and from Scotland, J Glass, Perthshire Paperweights, and Caithness glass produced a flow of beautiful paperweights.
Collectors often ask what they should look for when buying paperweights. Beauty and desirability should come first, since there is little point in a paperweight collection you do not enjoy! But there are some technical flaws you should seek to avoid. The design itself should look perfect, not broken nor distorted nor off-centre. The glass dome should be sparklingly clear, and have no bubbles, specks, or flow lines in the glass.
There are some very beautiful and helpful books on paperweights. We have included recent books as well as some classic favourites. Click on any book cover or underlined title to read more about that book.
- The Complete Guide to Perthshire Paperweights: The Final Years (April 2015) by Colin and Debby Mahoney and Gary and Marge McClanahan. Update of their earlier book, to include the final years of Perthshire Paperweights.
The Dictionary of Glass Paperweights (2010) by Paul Dunlop. A well illustrated reference book.
- Masterworks: The Paperweights of Paul Ysart (Feb 2009) by Colin Mahoney.
- Paperweights 1840s to 2006: Collector's Guide 2007 (Feb 2007) by Mark Pickvet.
- Glass Worlds: Paperweights from the ROM's Collection (May 2007) by Brian Musselwhite. Exhibition catalogue from Toronto with a wide range of different types of paperweight, from Pinchbeck to Stankard, with explanations. Small format (6" square)
- (July 2006) by Anne Metcalfe.
- Paperweights of The World, by Monika Flemming & Peter Pommerencke, 2006.
- Caithness Paperweights: 2nd Edn.by Colin Terris, 2004
- The Complete Guide to Perthshire Paperweights (reprint 2015) by Colin and Debby Mahoney and Gary and Marge McClanahan. This original book covers 1968 to 1997.
- Scottish Paperweights, by Robert G. Hall, 1999
- The Dictionary of Paperweight Signature Canes, by Andrew H. Dohan, 1997.
- Glass Paperweights of the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum, Neenah Municipal Foundation, 1989.
- The Encyclopaedia of Glass Paperweights, by Paul Hollister Jr., 1969.
- Paperweights, by Pat Reilly, 1994.
- Paperweights, by Sybylle Jargstorf, 1997.
- Glass Paperweights, by Patricia McCawley, 1975.
- Paperweights and Other Glass Curiosities, by E. M. Elville, 1954.
- No Green Berries or Leaves: The Creative Journey of an Artist in Glass (2007) autobiography by Paul Stankard.
- The Jokelson Collection of Antique Cameo Incrustation (1991) by Paul Dunlop. 128 pags cataloging the entire Jokelson collection with details of their manufacture and info about Jokelson himself.
- Cameo Incrustation: The Greatest Sulfide Show
( (April 1988) by Paul Jokelson and Dena K. Tarshis. 40 page catalogue of an exhibition at the Corning Museum of Glass in 1988.
- Paperweights of the 19th and 20th Centuries
(1989) by Paul and Gerard I. Jokelson. Bit dated, but a well-respected book.
- Important Paperweights from the Collection of Paul Jokelson
(1983) by Sotheby's Staff. 76 page New York auction catalogue, 1983.
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