Once again it is time to share with you my favorite antique weights in the current auction. This sale marks a milestone for L. H. Selman Ltd, the fiftieth auction, and it is the 44th auction in which I have been involved. The auctions have always been eagerly anticipated and are an exciting branch of our business. The primary reason for my excitement is that our auctions offer a plethora of the most beautiful and highly sought after paperweights. This fiftieth anniversary auction is no exception. However this auction poses a problem, albeit a welcome one: there is an unusual abundance of weights that I consider exceptional. I can't talk about them all so I'll pick the most favorite of my many favorites.
I'll begin with lot 1, the rarely seen "Ducks in a Pond", produced in the mid-nineteenth century and attributed to the French factory Baccarat. One of the few hollow weights produced by the French glass houses, this weight is by far the most famous. In this weight three ducks swim over a clear star cut ground, with a narrow ring of green and white jasper depicting a grassy bank surrounding the pond, all resting on a clear glass foot. Who can resist looking through the facets that transform into magical portals to watch the ducks always swimming lazily, undisturbed? The scarcity of this motif leads one to suspect that it was one of the more difficult paperweights to produce.
My next pick is Lot 2, a rare example of the celebrated antique Clichy convolvulus over a double swirling latticinio basket. So rare, it is one of only 23 documented examples. One will find an example of this weight in most of the major world-class paperweight collections. Because of its uncommon beauty and rarity, it always fetches some of the highest prices of any weights in an auction. Some luminaries who have owned a convolvulus weight include King Farouk of Egypt, Mrs. Applewhaite-Abbott, Col. Robert Guggenheim, Paul Jokelson, Mrs. Evangeline Bergstrom, and of course Arthur Rubloff.
I've always been especially drawn to the antique Baccarat carpet grounds, several of which are being offered in this sale. Antique Baccarat carpet grounds are some of the most prized weights in a collection, and often the collector who appreciates their high quality and beauty will strive to own each one of the numerous colors and motifs. Leading authority on paperweights Paul Hollister refers to carpet grounds as "rich, juicy". And according to John Bedford in Paperweights, "The carpet ground is the most sophisticated version of millefiori glass".
The first among them is Lot 4, one of the finest, a rarely seen pale aquamarine honeycomb carpet ground. The light aquamarine canes serve as the perfect contrast to the numerous bright, playful multicolored Gridel canes, and the weight has a "B 1848" date cane.
Next is Lot 5, a dated "B 1848" choufleur. "A choufleur (cauliflower) ground is made up of canes that, unlike the canes in other grounds, are set loosely and with a bit of a twist." -The Encyclopedia of Glass Paperweights. Valued at $25,000 - 35,000.
One of most vibrant of the antique Baccarat carpet grounds, Lot 6, is comprised of a sea of coral, white and cobalt blue six-point star/cog canes. Scattered among the colorful carpet canes are the cheerful Gridel silhouette canes of a deer, a horse, a pheasant, a goat, a rooster, a moth and an elephant, and a "B 1848" date cane.
Of the many outstanding garlanded antique flowers being offered, I am especially fond of the rare antique Baccarat garlanded red and white clematis paperweight, Lot 36. The flower and bud are flawlessly rendered and crowned with a tiara of emerald green leaves, then perfectly centered within a garland of canes like the beads of a necklace adding to its elegant countenance.
I can't help but be especially drawn to the very rare Bohemian piedouche, Lot 22. This well crafted example of the best of the antique Bohemian paperweights contains many wonderful complex canes including two Clichy-style red roses, both Type I and Type II, and one white rose, and is encircled by a festive red and turquoise twisted ribbon torsade.
Being a curious cat and lover of mysteries, my interest in the unusual weight is piqued by the two weights from unknown makers: an unusual antique yellow dahlia and a rare antique millefiori butterfly. The charming and enigmatic dahlia, Lot 25, has been pondered and researched by us at great length, to no avail (so far). The intriguing antique butterfly, Lot 38, does have some cousins (a similar butterfly was illustrated by Paul Hollister in Glass Paperweights of the New-York Historical Society) but no one, as far as I know, has yet been able to crack the case of where these curious insects were created.
It is very easy for me to appreciate all of the antique weights even if, and perhaps because, I have seen so many over the years. I imagine if you are reading this article, you too have that appreciation and will find it difficult to choose which weights to pursue. Well, best of luck! There is no easy solution, but I do know that you will probably love each and every weight that you add to your collection. Enjoy making your "picks".
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