You probably have never thought much about grandma’s glass paperweight or even the shiny one in your not-so-young boss’s office, have you? But it did spark some level of curiosity in you, so much that you’re here, yes?
Or maybe you’re an artifact enthusiast? Are you trying to add antique glass paperweight to your collection? Well, worry not; you’re in the right place.
Whether you’re a newbie to artifact collection or a pro in the world of antiques, we all need some direction on how to go about acquiring these vintage paperweights. This article will discuss the history, identifying antique glass paperweights and their valuation.
Without further ado, shall we?
What Are Vintage Paper Weights?
Simply put, a paperweight is a circular glass with a flat base with engraved designs covered with a clear crystal and is used to hold papers in place. Before the need for paperweights was met, industries invented a lot of innovations that have made these antiques more desirable to collectors.
The History of Antique Glass Paperweights
In the 19th century, when industrialization had just begun, there was a need to invent something that would put in place papers, bills, letters, and payrolls that littered desks in the offices of industry executives.
The Venetian glassmakers were the trendsetters for the glass paperweights, and the French followed suit. Due to their fine work and attention to detail, the French met the demand for glass paperweights, enjoyed their moment of glory, and, in no time, moved to making other items.
In the 1880s, the American and European industries ventured into the glass paperweight-making business, with most of the makers having emigrated from Europe. The American glass paperweights are similar to the Europeans because the makers from the latter were more skilled in this art.
Although the American paperweights are of lower quality when compared to their French counterparts, they did make it up through their creativity and originality.
Others who ventured into glass paperweight making are the Belgians, Russians, Bohemians, and the English.
If these were the 1800s, famously known as the romantic times, you would have a couple of glass paperweights courtesy of friends or loved ones.
Makers of Antique Glass Paperweights
From history, you have seen that the French became the stars in the glass paperweight-making industry. Some names whose pieces collectors have their eyes on include:
- Clichy: The unique characteristics of this design are white, pink, and yellow rose-like flowers called a Clichy rose. The floral arrangement is in an overlapping manner surrounding a central millefiori flower.
- Baccarat: What is unique about these vintage paperweights is the marking; B followed by the year of manufacture.
- Saint Louis: The Saint Louis paperweights have an SL marking to represent the company, use mainly faint colors, and were made of two narrow canes of contrasting colors. Also, they had a cushion-like background, and two twisted canes into one.
- Bacchus: These rare glass vintage paperweights are characterized by circular concentric canes placed at angles that coincide with the paperweight’s shape. The colors used were blue, pink, and white.
- Boston and Sandwich: Mainly made from the colors white, blue, and red, to represent the makers, Nicholas Lutz, homeland flag, the paperweights are characterized by a twelve petal Poinsettia with a center rose.
- New England Glass Company: These paperweights resemble those from Boston and Sandwich because they share employees and founders.
- Pantin: Not much is known about the Pantin Company, but what information is there is that none of the glass paperweights they made were signed. These paperweights are characterized by animals; snakes and lizards; enclosed in molten glass.
Common Types of Vintage Glass Paperweights
Here are some types of antique glass paperweights that are commonly collected today:
- Sulfide: paperweight with a portrait that is cameo-like in its dome and contains people, animals, and flowers.
- Lampwork:Is defined as the hot flame that heats the glass, and these glass paperweights contain colored butterflies and flowers enclosed in a clear dome.
- Victorian:These were popularly used in Victorian times for advertisements.
- Ribbon:These types of paperweights were decorated with opaque rods of up to 3 colors placed in a pinwheel design.
- Millefiori:popularly known as ‘thousand flowers’ was a design achieved using molten glass that was manipulated into fine rods to create botanical designs.
- Crown:these paperweights were made of colored ribbons that ran from the center of the top of the weight to the base. The strands could also be made of lace and be almost 20 colorful strands.
How to Identify Your Vintage Glass Paperweight
Some antique glass paperweights come with dates and logos making it easy to identify them, while others do not. For you to tell the quality vintage ones from the cheap, poor-quality ones, it is necessary to know the unique characteristics that differentiate the two.
This part will talk about the unique features of glass paperweights made in the 1800s and what makes them stand out from those made after this period. If a vintage glass paperweight doesn’t have some of the characteristics described, you are allowed to question its authenticity.
- Weight: Vintage antiques are heavier than modern glass paperweights because they are manufactured from glass with as much as 32% lead content. However, this does not mean that all light glass paperweights are modern and all heavy ones are antique.
Some antique pieces feel lighter when compared to others from the classic period.
- Colour: the glass color of a paperweight is another characteristic to consider when dating it. Chinese weights made in the mid-1900s and Bohemian weights had a characteristic yellow cast on their glass. Also, some companies had signature colors they’d work with when decorating their paperweights.
- Glass: The clarity, texture, and appearance of the glass on a paperweight are relevant factors to consider when dating your antique piece. These characteristics may vary depending on raw materials and the manufacturer of your antique.
- Faceting: Glass paperweight companies in the classic period produced faceted pieces. Most of the vintage glass paperweights have been refaceted without a care about the original design making it difficult to rely on faceting as the only factor considered when identifying a vintage piece.
- Type of base: Most antique glass paperweights have concave bases that are polished while the modern ones are polished and flat.
- Imperfections: Nothing is short of imperfections, even items made through industrial processes. Most antique pieces are no exception. Some companies added imperfections purposefully as part of the paperweight design. Bubbles, chips, or weird shapes at the top of the dome shouldn’t be a cause of alarm. Although, some unusual imperfections are a sign of the poor quality of your paperweight.
- Cushion: This refers to the background on which the design rests. Common ones used in the classic period include clear, colored, flash, carpet, aventurine, jasper, goldstone, gauze, and lace.
- Overlays: Refers to one, two, or three layers of glass coating a paperweight. Most antique glass paperweights have double overlays, and single overlays are very rare.
Are Antique Glass Paperweights Valuable?
If you’re on a budget, glass paperweight antiquing is not for you. Paperweights in good condition and those identifiable are worth more than those with scratches and without signatures to identify dating.
The size of the paperweight is also a good determinant of the price tag attached to it. Miniature glass paperweights; smaller-sized weights; cost less than Magnums; the larger-sized ones are more expensive.
In short, the answer is yes! Vintage glass paperweights are valuable. The most expensive glass paperweight, Clichy’s Basket of flowers, was priced at $258,000. Even with a broken handle, it still fetched quite the amount.
Which Vintage Glass Paperweight Should You Go For?
When looking for your antique glass paperweight, pick one that falls in either of the following evolutionary periods:
- Classic Period
This period dates from 1840 to 1880, with paperweights from France, America, and England industries. Paperweights from Baccarat and Clichy best fit into this category.
- Folk Art and Advertising Period
This period in the 1880s saw the evolution of glass paperweight industries, with small businesses taking up the trade and using weights for advertising and innovation of new techniques.
- Contemporary Period
In the post-war time, paperweights with both vintage and modern designs and perspectives were introduced.
Most Valuable Vintage Glass Paperweights
1. 1850s Saint Louis Encased Overlay Upright Bouquet
2. 1848s Saint Louis Antique Concentric Millefiori Mushroom and Torsade Paperweight
This French weight costs only $1,346.88 on ebay.
3. 1920s Antique Baccarat Millefiori Glass Paperweight
Consisting of different types of emerald green, red, blue, and white millefiori that are placed in circles to create a breath-taking design, this Baccaray weight costs only $289 on Etsy.
4. 1870s Antique Boston and Sandwich Company Red Double Poinsettia on Jasper Paperweight
This colorful piece goes for $399 on eBay. It is a pocket-friendly piece, especially for a beginner in antiquing.
5. 1860s New England Glass Company Upright Bouquet and Torsade Paperweight
The color combination in this glass paperweight is nothing short of surreal. For only $3,925, this beautiful piece can be all yours. Grab it on the Glass Galary.
6. 1971s Midcentury Baccarat Art Glass Snake Paperweight
If you’re a fan of our scaly reptile friends and a vintage glass paperweights collector, you and this work of art are a match made in heaven. For only $875 on 1st Dibs, you can pay a small price to bring joy into your heart.
7. 1847s Baccarat Millefiori Paperweight
For affordable and pocket-friendly vintage glass paperweights, you know who’s got you? Grab this eye-catching piece from 1st Dibs for only $650.
8. 1852s New England Glass CompanyCocentril Millefiori Glass Paperweight
For only $220 on eBay, you can get your hands on this gorgeous antique to add to your collection.
9. 1852s New England Glass Company Bride’s Bouquet Paperweight
If you could walk down the aisle holding this incredible masterpiece, you would. Add this unique and rare paperweight to your collection for only $1,200 on the Dunlop Collection.
10. 1852s New England Glass Company Antique Scrambled Paperweight
Get yourself a colorful addition to your collection that is in good condition with no scratches for only $1,576.32 on 1st Dibs.
11. 1850s Antique Saint Louis French Art Glass Paper Weight
For the silhouette cane fans, here is something for you. Priced at $1,195 on Etsy. This glass paperweight will make you the envy of your fellow collectors.
12. 1850s Antique Clichy Millefiori Glass Paperweight
One comment: breathtakingly stunning! Guess what? It can be yours for only $359 on Etsy.
13. 1847s Antique Clinchy Star Shaped Cinquefoil Garland on Blue Ground Paperweight
This paperweight needs no hyping, it’s unique and outstanding design speaks for it. With the price of $4,500 on the Glass Galary, this valuable antique is worth every coin.
14. 1860s Antique Boston Sandwich Glass Flower Millefiori Paperweight
A true definition of less being more, grab this simple yet amazing paperweight here for only $319.
15. 1849s Antique Baccarat Millefiori Mushroom Glass Paperweight
Is there a better way to close this list than with a show stopper? No! A magnum antique paperweight, Baccarat created a wonder in this design. Whether it is an addition to your collection or a gift to your fellow paperweight enthusiast, there’s no going wrong with this gem. And the best part is, it will only cost you $849 on Etsy.
Buying and Selling Antique Glass Paperweights
Buy and Sell Online
Thanks to the dawn of the technological age, the world has become a global village. Whether you’re trying to buy your antiques or sell them, your shop is at your fingertips. Sites like eBay, 1stDibs, and Etsy are great places to start trading.
Type of Antique Glass Paperweights
When buying glass paperweights, look through your stash to understand what type of collection yours falls under. You’re a theme, type collector, casual, or one type collector. Understanding these categories will help you pick which piece is the perfect fit and completes your collection.
Do Your Homework
To know where to find antiques, how to spot an original from a fake, prices, and maintenance, you have to do thorough research before purchasing or selling your vintage weight. This article, plus L. H. Sherman’s, is a good kick-start for your research.
This tip goes for both buyers and sellers of antique glass paperweights. Before buying from a site, read through customer reviews to see their experience with the seller and if the quality of the products has met their standards.
If you’re a seller, offer a platform for your customers to be able to give reviews of your products and your general services as a seller. This trick will help boost sales from positive reviews and improves customer satisfaction.
Delivery and shipping are serious factors to consider, whether you’re a buyer or seller of antique items. Before purchasing, you need to double-check that the seller delivers to where you are or at least somewhere closer for your convenience.
As a seller, the packaging of your products is a deal breaker. Proper packaging increases customer satisfaction and protects your delicate products from damage during transportation. Also, offering a wide area of delivery is a plus for your business.
How to Maintain Your Antique Glass Paperweight
You must have paid quite the shilling to acquire your vintage collectible, so it only makes sense to keep it in perfect condition to get your money’s worth. Even when you’re planning to sell, quality products to your customers is your number one priority, isn’t it? How is this achieved?
- Clean them regularly using distilled water or alcohol and a soft piece of cloth. This will help get rid of fingerprints and prevent scratching leaving your paperweights shining and looking as good as new.
- Ensure your antique glass paperweights have dried off properly before returning them to storage.
- Store your collection in a closed display box to prevent dust from accumulating on the glass. Needless to say, keep your valuables away from the reach of pets and children because they break easily.
Maintaining your antique glass paperweights is as easy as ABC, which makes them an artifact of choice for beginner collectors.
From this article, we have learned the history of glass paperweights, the types, prices, how to spot your vintage weights, tips on buying and selling, and even maintenance. You have also found sites you can visit to get your antiques.
Every antiquarian knows how difficult it is to find an original piece of whatever artifact you’re collecting. We hope this article helps you in your glass paperweight antiquing journey.
Feel free in the comment section to tell us which type of glass paperweight is your favorite, what type of collector you are, and which of the fifteen items listed you purchased. We’re also here to answer any questions you might have. Go ahead, don’t be shy!