A Brief History Of Paperweights

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."

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