Through time, paperweights have steadily appreciated in value, and some have been outstanding investments. An example, (on the left) is this antique paperweight of silkworms. It was made by the Pantin factory, we think, as a special exhibit piece for the 1878 Paris Exhibition. This paperweight commemorated the work of Louis Pasteur, for preventing a disease that threatened to decimate the silkworm. Pasteur was credited with saving the French silk industry. We lose track of the paperweight from the exhibit in 1878, until 1931, when it was bought by a London dealer for 6 pounds (about $30), and sold immediately to a collector for 26 pounds (about $130). In 1952 it sold at auction for 1200 pounds (about $3600), and in 1983 it was auctioned again for a then record price of $143,000. This weight is now part of the Rubloff Collection exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago. However, few paperweights are bought strictly for their investment potential. The majority of collectors buy them because of their love for and fascination with these objects.
In case you're curious, the world record price for a paperweight was set at just over a quarter-million dollars in a 1990 Sothebys auction, and this is a picture of it. This antique millefiori weight, produced in the mid 1800s by the French Clichy factory, is known as the Basket of Flowers. Studying the piece, it is apparent that originally the basket had a handle, but it has been broken off.
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