About Us

Welcome to L. H. Selman Ltd., a name that has been synonymous with the finest antique and contemporary paperweights for over 40 years. As the country's premier dealer in fine art glass paperweights our mission is to promote the very best by exhibiting and selling through our gallery and at auction the finest examples made in centuries past, and by nurturing new talent emerging from contemporary independent studios.

L. H. Selman Ltd. has a sterling reputation, forged through years of working together with our clients to help them build discriminating and sophisticated collections.

We maintain an expansive paperweight gallery and museum in Chicago, Illinois, with the largest collection of antique and contemporary paperweights anywhere. www.Selman.com, our online presence, allows collectors to browse some of our inventory, read artists' profiles, and order works of art.

We hold auctions, each accompanied by a full-color catalog, and hold periodic exclusive online auctions, both of which offer collectors the chance to acquire some of the very best in antique, contemporary, and secondary-market pieces.

Our full-color brochures present new work from accomplished masters and emerging artists, as well as offerings from our antique collection.

Paperweight Press, our publishing house, offers a full spectrum of literature exploring the art and science of paperweights and glass art.

Our professional consultants are dedicated to the highest level of service and attention to detail with every client, from the casual collector to the serious connoisseur.

With a depth of knowledge and an ability to educate and advise individuals in developing their collections, we make a commitment that says, "Invest with confidence, you'll receive only the best from L. H. Selman Ltd."

A Brief History

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. The origin of glass paperweights can be traced to France, around 1845, when glass factories such as Baccarat, Saint Louis, and Clichy were competing to create the world's finest crystal luxury items. Water sets, tableware, and desk accessories such as inkwells, led to the creation of presse-papiers.

These relatively affordable objets d'art were developed as elegant gift items, and exhibited to great acclaim in London's Great Exhibition of 1851. After that, the factories competed to outdo each other, creating intricate designs in grand presentation pieces which are highly sought after in today's market.

The original French glass paperweight passion lasted about 25 years; after which the objects fell out of vogue, and the intricate process for creating them was virtually lost. Then in the 1950s, Paul Jokelson, an enthusiastic collector of antique weights, convinced the factories from his native France to re-invent the technique. The result is a renaissance of the most difficult of all glass art forms - the contemporary glass paperweight, which in many ways exceeds the brilliance and complexity of its predecessors.

Glass paperweights can be found in museum collections around the world, including the Corning Museum of Glass, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum in Wisconsin. They have been collected by kings, American presidents, writers, such as Colette and Truman Capote, and investors, such as Arthur Rubloff - all people who became fascinated by these small, complex pieces of art which Capote described as "...rather like frozen snowflakes, dazzling patterns frozen forever."

In the mid-1960s Lawrence Selman, with a PhD in organic chemistry from Yale, and mastery of the viola da gamba, was introduced to paperweights through a fellow musician who collected them. Selman bought some pieces as gifts for his friends, and slowly became involved in trading paperweights. It wasn't long before the small works of art became more than a passing fancy for him, as he found himself traveling across the country to purchase and sell them. Eventually, Selman left behind his career as a professor of chemistry, and started L. H. Selman Ltd. as a small mail order business.

Recognizing a void in information available to the paperweight-collecting community, Selman decided to create a publishing company through which he could distribute his own knowledge of paperweights for the benefit of collectors, new and established. His first effort was Paperweights for Collectors. The book proved indispensible, and many others followed. Selman also founded the International Paperweight Society and Museum, which is housed within his company's main gallery, and seeks to promote knowledge of, and appreciation for the art and science of the paperweight.

In 2001, Selman was awarded the honor of being named by the Paperweight Collectors Association, one the Top Ten People of the 20th Century to influence the paperweight art form.

In 2009 Lawrence Selman and his wife, Marti, sold their business to Mitch and Ben Clark. To read more about today’s L.H.Selman Ltd., please see Gallery Staff.