Learn about Paperweights

International Paperweight Society


What some might consider to be a simple desk accessory has been locked in the treasure vaults of kings and collected by some of the world's most famous personalities. Collectors paperweights have increased steadily in value over the past thirty years--in 1990 one rare piece sold for the record-setting price of $258,000!

The story of the glass paperweight begins in 1845--little more than fifty years after a mob beheaded Louis XVI and proclaimed France a republic. In this year the great glasshouses of France began to produce pieces of crystal that would permanently impact the history of glass art.

Paperweights--for that was their original purpose--were initially produced as elegant gift items for sale to a burgeoning middle class. The pieces received an instant enthusiastic response The factories of Baccarat, Saint Louis and Clichy strived to surpass each other, and what was first sold as a gift, metamorphosed into a presentation piece. When nations were called to exhibit their finest accomplishments at London's Great Exhibition of 1851, France displayed paperweights.

The French factories established a tradition of glassworking excellence that has lasted for 150 years and today the world's leading glass artists continue to include their most complex glasswork in crystal domes called paperweights.

To learn more about glass paperweights
The International Paperweight Society

Larry Selman (lselman@got.net)