Some of the earliest paperweights were made in Venice in the 1840s. They were gathered together out of scraps of latticino and other types of cane, as well as chunks of aventurine quartz, which would be picked up by a ball of hot glass at the end of a pipe, covered with more clear glass, and then fashioned into a smooth cylinder. The glass was of poor quality and the collection of scrambled scraps within was a random jumble, at best.

Around the same time in Bohemia, the present-day Czech Republic, glassworkers were taking Venetian caning techniques to more inspired heights. Whereas the Venetian paperweights had used canes to create a sort of three-dimensional collage, the Bohemians used it to produce millefiori effects, in which the ends of canes were organized with their cross sections facing out so that viewers could discern patterns in the paperweight.

The Bohemians improved upon the techniques of the Venetians, and also incorporated the artistry of the French, who really brought the art of the paperweight into full flower. In fact, flowers were part of the reason why mid-19th-century French paperweights are so prized by collectors today: the flowers that seem suspended within these paperweights are like nothing else produced at the time.

Baccarat is unquestionably the most famous and renowned paperweight producer. They used two principle types of cane: millefiori, whose cross-sections revealed stars, spirals, and shamrocks, and silhouettes, which ranged from dogs to doves to devils. Baccarat codified the basic types of paperweights that glassworkers still aspire to today. The "plain" millefiori paperweights were produced in widely spaced or tight-and-close styles. Sometimes the canes were organized in concentric circles, other times their ends were interwoven like garlands.

Two other collectible Baccarat styles are mushrooms, in which a bundle of canes seem to spout like a mushroom from within the weight, and carpets, whose wall-to-wall patterns would do a Persian rug maker proud.

Three-dimensional lampworked flowers encased in glass were the chief French innovation. At Baccarat, flower choices included pansies, primroses, wheatflowers, clematis, buttercups, and, of course, roses. Fruits such as strawberries and pears were also frozen in glass, as were lizards, snakes, and other reptiles.

One of Baccarat’s toughest competitors was St. Louis, whose artisans could do pretty much everything Baccarat’s could. Plus, they had a Venetian-inspired innovation of their own:...

There were numerous other paperweight makers in 19th-century France, including the highly regarded Clichy, whose trademark cane rose appears in some 30 percent of all the paperweights produced by the company. The cross section of another popular Clichy cane resembles a pastry mold. Like its French counterparts, Clichy often inserted a cane into its paperweights whose cross section was the first letter of its name (for Clichy that would be "C," Baccarat used one with a "B," while St. Louis had a cane that spelled out two letters, "SL").

The French also excelled at sulphide or cameo paperweights. Baccarat produced odes to Joan of Arc and scenics such as a hunter accompanied by his trusty dog. St. Louis encased Napoleon III, while Clichy made sulphides bearing the likenesses of Benjamin Franklin and Marie Antoinette.

English glassmakers were not sitting still while all this innovation was taking place on the other side of the channel. A Birmingham company called Bacchus made paperweights using canes that resembled stars, ruffles, and cogs. Its concentric paperweights are especially well regarded, as are the pieces whose interiors appears to be blanketed with drifts of snow. The English made sulphides, too, often, not surprisingly, of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

In the United States, some of the new world’s first paperweights were made at the New England Glass Company in Cambridge, the forerunner of a company today known as Libbey. Its specialties were flower and fruit weights. Some of these fruit paperweights were blown to scale in the shape of apples or pears, then fused to a round or square clear base. Crosstown Boston rival Sandwich Glass Company differentiated its products by putting the flowers inside its paperweights in delicate, encased baskets.

Former New England Glass employee William Gillinder started his own firm in Philadelphia. His paperweights featured sulphide portraits of America’s founding fathers—one series of buildings in Philadelphia was created for the nation’s centennial in 1876. Millville, New Jersey was another center for paperweight making. The so-called "motto" weights ("Home Sweet Home," "Remember the Maine," "Hope") were popularized here, as were the flower and clipper paperweights, which featured a single blooming rose or delicate miniature ship entombed in crystal.

Other early American paperweights that are highly prized by contemporary collectors include those made at the Mt. Washington Glass Works, Pairpoint (which took over Mt. Washington in 1894), and the Union Glass Company of Somerville, Massachusetts.

In the early part of the 20th-century, Tiffany used the paperweight to anchor some of his vases, as well as to create more traditional paperweights that offered viewers glimpses of underwater scenes. Steuben relegated paperweight-making to a unpaid pursuit best left to enterprising workers during their lunch hour.

The 1920s saw a boom in paperweight technologies in the Czech Republic, where faceted, flower-filled paperweights were the rage. Baccarat revived its millefiori output shortly after World War II, and in 1953 created a sulphide paperweight to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. St. Louis also built upon its 19th-century paperweight traditions in the 1950s, particularly with its upright bouquets, which it produced throughout the 1960s.

In recent years, one of the most vibrant regions for vintage paperweights has been Scotland. According to collector Richard More, the Ysart family and the companies they spawned came to prominence shortly after World War II. Ysart’s patterned millefiori paperweights are at once traditional and fresh, with rich coloration and lush interiors. Whether it’s an Ysart Brothers piece from 1946 to 1955, a Vasart from 1956 to 1964, or a Strathearn from 1965 to 1980, these paperweights remind us why the form has captivated art-glass lovers for more than 150 years

Key terms for Antique and Vintage Art Glass Paperweights:

Cane: A glass rod made by stretching molten glass from both ends.

Lampworking: The practice of using an open flame, usually from a gas torch, to melt and form pieces of glass into a desired shape.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Morton D. Barker Paperweight Collection

Morton D. Barker Paperweight Collection

This Illinois State Museum microsite showcases over 200 of the finest examples of antique French paperweights of th… [read review or visit site]

Richard Mores Paperweight Photo Albums

Richard Mores Paperweight Photo Albums

Richard More’s stunning gallery of glass paperweights produced by the Ysart family from 1946 to 1980 (Ysart Brot… [read review or visit site]

Early Office Museum

Early Office Museum

This site showcases pre-1920 office antiques, including paperweights, writing ink, paper fasteners, seal pressers, … [read review or visit site]

This fabulous site is a guide to Bohemian art glass makers from 1885 to 1920. Loetz was the premier Bohemian glass … [read review or visit site]

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Chris and Val Stewart’s impressive attempt to create a complete catalogue of all known cloud glass, a decorative … [read review or visit site]

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

The heart of this website, home of the Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club, is the Identification Project, whe… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Very Rare Signed L C Tiffany Co Favrile Paperweight Studio Art Glass Flower VaseBeautiful Antique Millefiori Paperweight / Inkwell Bottle Paul YsartPerthshire Pp11 Spaced Millefiori Muslin Picture Cane Glass Studio PaperweightAuthentic Lalique France Crystal Buffalo Bison Art Glass Paperweight Figure N/rsRare Vintage Perthshire Faceted Millefiori On Muslin Paperweight 1971Orient Flume Signed Art Glass Iridescent Pulled Feather 3 3/4" Paperweight 1974Perthshire Glass 1976 End Of Day Scramble Millefiori Paperweight Pp19Perthshire Flower And Millefiori Paperweight 1981Perthshire Christmas 1976 Poinsettia Flower 3" Paperweight. Boxed. Perthshire Ltd Ed Damson Plums Faceted Paperweight. Boxed. Rare Parabelle Pansy & Millefiori Paperweight 1977 Ltd EdIittala-helja-liukko-sundstrom- Dancing Leaf Glass Card Paperweight FinlandWhitefriars Glass 1977 Silver Jubilee Faceted Millefiori Paperweight Ltd EditionWhitefriars Glass 1978 P3 Diamond Cut Faceted Millefiori PaperweightVtg Eickholt Studio Hand Blown Art Glass Iridescent Pulled Feather PaperweightAmazing Vintage Genuine Italy Murano Glass Color Flowers Paperweight. Authentic Lalique France Owl Bird Figure Frosted Crystal Glass Paperweight N/rsPaul Ysart Glass Harland/highland Studio Faceted Millefiori Paperweight 1970sCaithness/ysart Glass Millefiori Latticino Paperweight Ct-60 By William MansonGambaro Poggi Murano Italian Cased Silver & Gold Dust Art Glass Pear PaperweightSt Clair Art Glass Paperweight Vintage Table Lamp Mid Century Daffodil FlowersVintage Perthshire Art Glass Paperweight 9 Spoke Twists & Millefiori On BlueStunning Vintage Deacons Butterfly Multi-facet Paperweight Signed In CaneExtra Rare John Deacons Lampwork Pansy On Upset Muslin Glass Paperweight SignedBaccarat Coeur Heart Crystal Glass Paperweight France Sculpture Signed Red RareOrient & Flume Iridescent Blue Studio Art Glass Plum PaperweightWilliam Manson Snr Spring In Bloom Upright Paperweight 6/10Emerald Green Gecko Paperweight By William Manson Snr 1/10William Manson Snr Journey Home Paperweight 7/10Baccarat France Black Crystal Art Glass "grizzly Bear" Paperweight Sculpture NrEickholt Magnum - Doorstop Huge 1998 Signed ColorfullGlass Marble *align* Boomwire Lampwork Boro Paperweight Sculpture Sra UsaScarce Rare John Deacons Lampwork Rose On Upset Muslin Glass Paperweight SignedFine Vintage Art Glass Paperweight Millefiori Scallopped Sides Concave BottomRare John Deacon Faceted Clichy Rose Swirl Glass Paperweight Signed/label VgcCaithness Glass Paperweight, Flower In The Rain 1974 Boxed With CertificateVintage Pairpoint Art Glass Paperweight Green & White Millefiori CrownCaithness Glass Paperweight, 1st First Quarter 1974 Boxed Certificate Name CaneAntique Miniature Star Millefiori Paperweight - 1 3/4" DiameterPaperweights Contemporary Art Glass James Alloway 3.0inch "quadmania" #336Orient & Flume Studio Art Glass Iridescent Magic Red Apple PaperweightRare Josh Simpson Blown Paperweight Perfume Bottle - No Reserve!Vtg 1978 Orient & Flume Glass Paperweight Gold Iridescent Pulled Feather DesignJohn Deacons Wow Larger Size "complex Bird Silhouette Millefiori" PaperweightPaperweights Contemporary Art Glass James Alloway 3.1inch "raelynbow" #107Signed Lalique France Frosted Crystal Sparrow Singing Bird Art Glass PaperweightVintage 1900 Art Glass Paperweight Best!!!Steuben Owl - Signed Glass Paperweight Sculpture Hand Cooler Made In Usa Vtg Studio Hand Blown Art Glass Iridescent Heart Vine Domed Desk Paperweight NrSigned Karg Studio Hand Blown Cased Art Glass Dichroic Modernist Paperweight NrWhitefriars Glass Faceted Millefiori PaperweightBeautiful Tittot Art Glass Paperweight- Signed & NumberedDisney Robert Guenther Cinderella Castle Wdw Crystal Glass Paperweight FigureRare Vintage Murano Cenedese Cube Paperweight Psychedelic Dichroic Studio Art Glass Orb Paperweight Etched SignedDaum France Cristal Art Glass Figural Bunny Rabbit Paperweight, Nr6" Robert Eickholt Iridescent Glass Egg Shaped Paperweight Studio Art Signed Edward Kachurik American Studio Art Glass Gold Overlay Folded VeilBridgeton Studio 1978 Buzzini Sea Horse In Flowers S259 Glass PaperweightBoomwire Glass Lampwork Frog Paperweight Sculpture Marble Handmade Boro Figure

Recent News: Art Glass Paperweights

Source: Google News


COLLECTIBLES: Boxes of baseball cards, Higgins Glass, Royal Doulton crystal, art glass, paperweights, Oneida silverplate flatware with chest, Roseville pottery pieces, books, cameras, soda pop collection which includes: Coca Cola, Pepsi, 7up, RC, ...Read more

Art gallery listings for April 19-25
Oroville Mercury Register, April 18th

Featuring art glass, photography and other unique local art pieces, as well as antiques and fine furniture. Contributing artists .... Producers of an array of hand-blown and solid forms in glass, specializing in paperweights, vases, bowls and jellyfish...Read more

Neighborhood Issue: The Safety Harbor Destinations Guide
Creative Loafing Tampa, April 16th

She also carries works by other artists and crafters, ranging from carved driftwood to glassblown jellyfish paperweights to natural hide purses by a blind artist based in Washington. All first-time customers leave with a charm, and if you still have...Read more

Exhibits Calendar
Wausau Daily Herald, April 15th

Four permanent glass collections: the world's most representative collection of antique and contemporary glass paperweights, a collection of Germanic drinking vessels dating from 1573, a collection of Victorian-Era decorative glass and an ever-growing...Read more

From cars to bars, Lincoln well-remembered in Nevada
Reno Gazette Journal, April 14th

As the state celebrated its 150th year in 2014, one of the milestone events was the display of the original Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Lincoln, at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno on Nevada Day. At the exhibit opening, Gov. Brian Sandoval...Read more

Glass artist Paul Stankard's exhibit at WheatonArts features glass works, poetry, April 5th

Stankard, an acclaimed international artist and a master in the art of the paperweights, is also an accomplished author who has written two books ("Spark the Creative Flame: Making the Journey from Craft to Art" and "No Green Berries or Leaves") and...Read more

Through a glass beautifully
Illinois Times, April 2nd

Collecting antique glass paperweights does strike many people as absurd. It's like billionaires collecting Republican congressmen – they cost a lot of money but they aren't of much practical use. But of course the art-ness of such an object does not...Read more

Annual Glass Art Show and Sale is Saturday
UTA The Shorthorn, March 24th

Nearly 1,000 pieces of glass art designed by students, faculty, staff and guest artists will be available for purchase. Items will range from vases, sculptures and paperweights to more expensive collector's items. “We have a bunch of artists who have...Read more