On the left is a Baccarat trefoil garland on muslin, on the right is a Baccarat patterned carpet ground. These are examples of the different patterns that artisans created with millefiori.
A Clichy close concentric millefiori is on the left. This is an example of the millefiori produced by the Clichy factory, which was renowned for its brilliant use of color.
On the right is a Clichy color ground with scattered millefiori. Its easy to understand why paperweights are so often compared with jewels.
A Baccarat bouquet is on the left. Eventually, Victorian artisans began to expand their skill with millefiori by creating more obviously floral designs. This weight shows a progression of technique. Communicating messages with flowers was a very popular Victorian custom, so flowers became a natural avenue of expression for glass artisans.
On the right is a floral bouquet. This bouquet by the Clichy factory shows a very different style than the Baccarat bouquet.
This St. Louis fuchsia (left) was created by a process called lampworking, where colored rods were sculpted into the shape of a flower using an oil lamp with a foot powered bellows. The glass flower was then encased in crystal.
A St. Louis pompon on latticinio cushion on the right has a very soft and feathery appearance, which is difficult to achieve in glass.
This is an upright floral bouquet in a basket by the St. Louis factory, which shows a very different presentation from the horizontal format used by the Baccarat or Clichy factories.
It is estimated that only about 20,000 of glass paperweights have survived to this day, with about 6000 of those being quality pieces. They are tightly held in private collections and museums. A limited number are available for sale by specialty dealers and through auctions. The combination of their quality, their beauty, and their rarity makes them all the more collectable. They are the most sought after works of 19th century glass. These works of art are true gems, and have been described as the crown jewels for collectors.
Rarely, some of the crown jewels are found in flea markets and garage sales. Several of my friends have found real gems and bought them for $25-100, which were worth about $3000. Some years ago, a woman in Virginia bought a paperweight for $1 in a curiosity shop. This is the picture of the weight she bought. She suspected it to be a quality piece, and had it appraised. In 1993 it was sold at a Sothebys auction for $29,000. I havent been so lucky despite continued efforts.