L.H. Selman’s 73rd Paperweight Auction, Fall 2019

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TO PLACE BIDS CLICK HERE : AUCTION WEBSITE

LIST OF RESERVE PRICES FOR UNSOLD LOTS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

L.H. Selman, Ltd. is pleased to announce our Fall 2019, 73rd Glass Paperweight Auction, featuring 360 lots, antique and modern, as well as choice paperweight-related objects. Initial bidding begins Monday, October 21st at 9am, with competitive bidding beginning on Tuesday, November 5th.

The auction is fully online, hosted on our AUCTION WEBSITE. A web friendly digital e-catalog can be viewed at E-CATALOG, while a printed copy of the catalog is for sale at PRINT-CATALOG. For those of you who have enjoyed watching spin videos of featured pieces, they can be accessed via our YouTube Channel. If you see something to your liking, please do not fail to place an initial bid in order to ensure that you have a position in the competitive bidding that follows in the second half of the auction. Competitive bidding concludes after each lot closes, whereby the Buy-At-Reserve stage commences offering all unsold lots at their reserve prices.

If you’re new to our auctions, or if you would just like a refresher, we recently put together a video explaining the auction process. So we encourage you to watch for a full explanation of our unique slow close auctions, including the different stages, rules and processes. And please call us at (312) 583-1177 if you have any questions

We recommend that you give the catalog’s Conditions of Sale a careful examination for a full understanding of the protocols. A key for condition statements can be found in the Conditions of Sale page in the catalog. Please call the gallery with any questions about these changes or the auction format, and don’t forget, we’re always happy to send additional images, videos or condition reports upon request.

You can also make an appointment to see every lot in person at our gallery in Chicago, 410 S. Michigan Ave., suite 207.  We would love to see you all in person! If you prefer to place any or all bids by phone, or have any questions, just give us a call at 1-800-538-0766.

Paul’s Selections from Auction 73

HELLO AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

L.H. SELMAN AUCTION 73!

FEATURING PAUL’S CAREFULLY SELECTED AT RANDOM SAMPLE LOTS 

AND DESIGNED TO GIVE YOU JUST THE BAREST TASTE OF THE UPCOMING FEAST, A SNEAK PEEK AT A FEW OF THE MANY UNIQUE GLASS TREATS WITH WHICH YOU CAN FILL YOUR (BUBBLE-BAG LINED) HALLOWEEN SACKS FROM THE UPCOMING AUCTION – AND HOPING YOU MAKE IT BACK HOME SAFELY, WHAT WITH ALL THE PERILS OF SORCERERS, CATWOMEN, VAMPIRES AND PIRATES LURKING IN THE HOLIDAY SHADOWS, NOT TO MENTION THE MASK SLIDING DOWN ON YOUR FIELD OF VISION AT EVERY DARK AND BUSY STREET CORNER… 

OH WAIT – WE’LL JUST SHIP THEM TO YOU!

WE ALSO WANT TO SAY WE PAID THE RANSOM AND THE AUCTION 73 CATALOGUES HAVE BEEN FOUND UNHARMED AND WILL BE IN YOUR WAITING ARMS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!

INITIAL BIDDING BEGINS MONDAY OCTOBER 21

 

GRAND STAIRCASE NOT INCLUDED.

LOT 1: Exceptional and very rare antique Clichy close packed millefiori and roses stave basket newel post.

Word on the street has it that this glass masterpiece once resided in the wizard Merlin’s study, and that Camelot only fell because he misplaced it one weekend.  After that disaster he affixed the orb to a solid royal brass base to curb what turned out to be the sphere’s nocturnal wanderings. (Merlin himself can still be seen wandering the neighborhoods around Halloween…) This Clichy treasure now comes with a Wizard and Pirate-Proof red velvet-lined wooden cabinet box complete with a brass handle, lock and key.  Yes, you could buy your way out of conscription in the King’s navy with this landmark. (You know they got half their sailors by kidnapping them!) This weight could be employed as the official Newell Post not just of Windsor Castle, but of the entire Crown.

Of course, that could lead to a war with the French who rightfully claim this Gallic masterpiece.  (Did you know that for 300 years, French was the official language of the Court of St. James?). But truth be told, this glorious crystal balloon would be worth an armed conflict.

Numbering at over 350 (feel free to fact-check and you’ll find 337…yeah, we know,) this kaleidoscope of exquisite millefiori won’t have to fight for your attention.  You’ll barely be able to look at anything else. The field includes a record number of varied rose canes (okay, 30) – and the only thing you’ll need for the perfect setting is a grand marble staircase–or even better, a nice dining room table.  And yet for all its imposing presence, it is also a graceful and streamlined 11th century, lighter-than-air balloon, barely tethered to the earth. Sorry, the helium is extra.

 

NO SELF-ESTEEM ISSUES HERE

Lot 2:  Rare antique Clichy spaced concentric millefiori on moss ground paperweight.

This vibrant glass creation of beautifully rendered canes playing in a breathing carpet of living green, is such a sublime classic, the reference books fall all over themselves with attempts to convey how they can barely attempt to convey in words the extremely high quality on display here. One major volume likens these Clichy paperweights to the finest French tapestries (the moss carpet even shimmers from beneath). And another describes them as being the prized possessions of a few “advanced” collectors.  Well, well, well. We here think differently and we know you’re not going to take that implied slight lying down! You know who you are and so do we (thanks to modern technology). So, sit up and pour yourself a good bourbon, and get in the fight for this stunning standard-bearer of great French paperweights. 

 

EXTRATERRESTRIAL GIFT FOUND IN A METEORITE?

Lot 3: Rare antique Bacchus close packed millefiori encased double overlay paperweight.

This amazingly compact Bacchus creation is unlike anything we’ve seen in a long, long time. 

A world within a world. A beautiful, small planet inside its own tiny solar system, wrapped by salmon-tinted solar winds swirling protectively.  Delicate red stars dance across the surface of this intriguing interior sphere, which is replete with canes of eye-catching complexity.

This enchanting and unusual objet d’ art would in fact have been right at home on Merlin’s shelf.  Thank goodness for the protective glass dome because this is one little planet that looks downright edible!

 

YOU WON’T FIND THESE AT HOME DEPOT!

Lot 14: Rare antique Clichy pair of end-of day scrambled millefiori and roses door knobs.

Actually, it can be difficult to find anything at Home Depot, with one employee every four acres of floor space, but that’s another discussion.  Here we have the finishing touches for the interior door(s) leading into your inner sanctum, i.e., where you keep your many glass treasures. Think about it, just how often do you get to handle any given weight in your collection?  Well, satisfaction is close at hand (get it?) with these gorgeous roses and scrambled canes, welcoming your touch as often as you enter or leave your paperweight cave!

 

STRETCHING A POINT?

Lot 22: Unusual antique English large millefiori mushroom pedestal paperweight.

Some of us wanted to keep this attractive and extreme illustration of the stunning optical properties of glass, for the official Paperweight Foundation mini museum located here at the gallery.  But the consignor somehow sees things differently so it is up for sale! This “party of one” boasts a cobalt blue cross as the center of the cane, and from the top it top looks to be 3/8” in length in both directions whereas the almost microscopic dot it comes to at the base is totally unreadable as anything more than a faint period at the end of a sentence. Amazing visual! 

 

EVERYTHING SOUNDS BETTER IN FRENCH

Lot 30: Antique Baccarat 1846 close packed millefiori paperweight.

Baudelaire, de Beauvoir, Baguettes, Bordeaux, Brie, Brigitte Bardot, Bouguereau, Berlioz, Biarritz, Bugatti and of course – Baccarat.  All Classics. And let’s face it, we’re all a little jealous, aren’t we? Well, you can fix that with this exemplar of the dated close pack millefiori resting on your night stand.  Remember, if we can’t all BE French, we can at least buy their stuff! 

 

BACK TO THE FUTURE!

Lot 57: Rare antique Saint Louis patterned millefiori and squares paperweight.

In a tip of the hat to naval flags and anticipating neoplasticism jewelry from the 1920s Dutch De Stijl movement, (look it up!)  this forward-looking homage to modernist design in art glass is really a little astonishing. A bold and intriguing geometry for an antique paperweight.  (But did you catch our misuse of the term homage to describe something yet to be created!)

 

COIN OF THE REALM

Lot 73: Rare unidentified antique, possibly Clichy, “Bank Notes” sulphide paperweight.

The day is coming when you’ll pay for your groceries with the blink of your chip-embedded eye.  By then all paper and metal currencies will be found in museum print and collectible departments. Get ahead of the game with this Bank Note, safely ensconced in solid glass and start your own museum department today! (By the way, the letters are debossed with the most elegant and delicate blue/lavender ever seen).  Be careful not to jump the gun and encase or laminate too much of your savings – the gesture is not fully appreciated everywhere. As a matter of fact, one of our in-laws had a very early American dollar bill laminated as a way to preserve it and protect its value…but that’s another sad story…. 

 

EVERYTHING BUT SINATRA SINGING ONLY FOR YOU

Lot 93: David Graeber 2010 “Autumn in Chicago” fall chrysanthemums paperweight, from the Chicago series.

All of autumn’s quieter colors are so gently embedded and intertwined with the mums in this weight so as to evoke a sense of absolute comfort and well-being.  Think of the fireplace in your Frank Lloyd Wright designed home; the two of you snuggled in Pendleton blankets in front of the fire and watching the hound chew playfully on your old briar pipe with Thanksgiving looming.  That is but one of the scenes that will appear before you with this quiet masterwork in your hands. The only decision ahead of you is which supper club (“where everybody knows your name”) to make your way to for a candlelit meal, culminating with the best pumpkin pie you’ve ever had.  Yes, THAT is what you get holding this weight.

(Pipe, dog and dessert not included.)

 

SILLY RABBIT, TRIX ARE FOR KIDS!

Lot 333:  Perthshire Paperweights (1994) “Fruit” faceted paperweight.

Nothing really outlandish to say here (except that film director Quentin Tarantino hijacked the meme – take our word for it).  This “lemon yellow and orange-orange” weight is as delightful and cheerful as the old Saturday morning cartoons and their cereal commercials. This compact cornucopia bears fruit both serene and delicious, to combine two words that have never appeared in print together before describing the same thing…

ALRIGHT!  HERE’S WHERE WE APOLOGIZE TO EVERYONE FOR THE 349 WEIGHTS WE DIDN’T GET TO, BUT WE DO HAVE A WISECRACK READY FOR EACH LOT SO JUST CALL US!

AND NO PANICKING! WE HAVE SUMPTUOUS AMOUNTS OF YOUR FAVORITE NAMES AND THEMES AND COLORS AS YOU’LL SEE IN A VERY FEW DAYS!

UNTIL THEN IT’S JUST WEIGHT AND SEE!

(Sorry, we wrote that on a bet…)

L. H. Selman Ltd. Celebrates 50 Years in Paperweights!

This year, as we look back over the past fifty years of our life with fine glass paperweights, there is much to be grateful for. First, we are grateful for the glass artists, whose creative genius and honed technical skills have produced some of the finest work in glass ever seen. Secondly, we are grateful for the collectors—the appreciative audience who continue to treasure and build their fine collections. Thirdly, we are grateful for other paperweight dealers who over the years have challenged us to do our very best, and who worked together with us to educate the public and to promote the artists and their work. Together, these three groups have elevated the art form to the high standard it enjoys today. And finally, we are profoundly grateful for the opportunity to work in an a rewarding environment, in a field we love.

As part of our celebration this year, we thought you might enjoy reading a little about the history of L. H. Selman, Ltd., founded in 1969 by Lawrence Selman. We have condensed what could be a large tome into what we hope will be an entertaining scrapbook of snapshots from the past.

For old-times, this will be a nostalgic walk down Memory Lane. For newer collectors, we hope you will pick up some new information for your ongoing journey into glass collecting. We are betting that everyone will learn something they didn’t know before!

Selman’s Introduction to Fine Glass Paperweights:

In the late1960s, when young Americans were tuning in to peace, love, and self-discovery, Lawrence Selman found himself at a personal crossroads. With a PhD in organic chemistry from Yale under his belt (thanks to the persistence of his dedicated mother), and a passion for playing early music on the viola da gamba, Selman needed to make a choice: Continue with an academic career? Or follow his passion for playing music?

Larry Selman playing a treble viola da gamba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end, Selman chose a different path altogether. He chose the path of innovators from the Renaissance era whose music he had been smitten by. During the Renaissance, skills and talents from many fields of expertise were combined in a life of extraordinary creativity. In other words, why not do it all: Continue to be a scholar, play music, and…. sell glass paperweights!

Larry Selman was introduced to fine glass paperweights through a fellow musician Jack Curtis, who was a collector. Originally from Cleveland Ohio, Selman was teaching chemistry in San Diego at the time, and became a regular visitor to Curtis’s home in Temecula, California, where afternoons spent playing early music (Renaissance and Elizabethan) on various instruments often extended late into the night.

“A musician friend of mine lived in a remote and rustic setting,” he recalls. “Each time I visited, he showed me a different group of collectibles from his wide and varied interests. Once it was fine Japanese prints; another time he introduced me to the nuances of American folk art. One day he brought out his paperweight collection. For the first time, I saw the intricacies of the millefiori canes and the splendid colors captured in them. At once I imagined the pleasures of owning and collecting these small works of art.”

Larry Selman found himself fascinated with these diminutive objets d’art, so much so that he accompanied Curtis one afternoon to Knotts Berry Farm, in Buena Park, California. The glassblower Harold Hacker had set up a booth where he formed tiny animals and flowers of borosilicate glass, under a hot torch.  In addition to the animals, Hacker offered for sale some glass paperweights he had made from furnace glass in a separate studio. Selman bought a paperweight for himself, and Curtis, encouraged him to buy yet another. And thus a simple afternoon visit to an amusement park spawned a new paperweight collector, and a long career.

A Harold Hacker paperweight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a visit to Cleveland to visit his mother, Selman found himself perusing a local newspaper which sported a “Paperweights Wanted” ad in the classified section. He happened to have with him the recently-acquired Harold Hacker paperweights, so he contacted the collector in Cleveland. “Oh my God! You have a Harold Hacker paperweight!” she exclaimed. When she offered to buy them he was flummoxed. He didn’t know what price to put on them, naively thinking that it wouldn’t be right to sell them for more than what he had paid for them. So he ended up trading his Harold Hacker weights for several popular commemorative sulphide weights from her collection.

Kitchen Table Mail-Order Business:

It wasn’t long before the small works of art became more than a passing fancy for Selman. When his teaching schedule allowed, he found himself traveling across the country to purchase and sell fine glass paperweights. Eventually, he found himself so enamored with playing early chamber music, that he decided to take time away from his job as a professor of chemistry in order to have time to play.

In an interview with Heather Knight, writer for the San Francisco Chronicle in 2000, Selman recalls: “My mother couldn’t believe it,” he said. She kept saying, ‘You went to graduate school in chemistry. What are you doing?’ ” But Selman believed that knowledge and skills acquired in one field are transferable to another, and he continued to follow his passion.

Needing some form of livelihood while he pursued his dream of playing music, Selman published his first Catalogue of Collector’s Paperweights, with photos in black and white, where he offered contemporary (Scottish and American) and antique paperweights (French, American, English, Sulphides) as well as books, and lucite stands.

The woodblock print of the Glassmaker’s Chair was taken from Apsley Pellatt’s book, Curiosities of Glass Making

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This would be the first of many regular catalogs published by the mail-order company. Selman loved to collect early prints of glass artists, and decided to put a classic image of a glass worker at his bench on the cover. That image later became—and remains—the company’s logo.

Also in 1970, Selman sent out his first regular (monthly) mailing to his growing list of collectors. While the catalog, published occasionally, was meant to offer a broad array of paperweights, both contemporary and antique, the monthly mailings would feature a particular artist or glass house, with regular special offerings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This first mailing was sent out in letter format, produced on a typewriter. Later, mailings would become more sophisticated, with professional printing and high-quality color photographs.

Future marketing efforts would eventually include major art and antique fairs, collector’s meetings, an internet web site, live telephone and online auctions, gallery events, museum events, paperweight festivals, and collectors’ weekends with artists.

Early in his paperweight career, Selman became acquainted with a London antique dealer, Alan Tilman, who in turn introduced him to Stuart Drysdale, founder of the newly-established Perthshire Paperweights in Crieff, Scotland. Stuart Drysdale and Selman began traveling around the UK and the United States, visiting both shops and collectors to introduce them to paperweights.

English antique dealer Alan Tilman (left) and Stuart Drysdale of Perthshire Paperweights.

Early on, Selman had also gotten to know Paul Jokelson, a French American who in the 1950s had persuaded the French factories of Saint Louis and Baccarat to reinvent the art form, whose secrets had been lost to glass workers since its demise in the1860s. Jokelson had been importing paperweights while living in New York. Both Drysdale and Jokelson were very influential in Selman’s development, and became life-long friends.

Paul Jokelson, founder of the Paperweight Collectors Association, who single-handedly persuaded the French glass house of Saint Louis to begin making paperweights in the 1950s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publishing Company—Paperweight Press:

Recognizing a void in information available to the paperweight-collecting community, Selman decided to create a publishing company—Paperweight Press—through which he could distribute his own growing knowledge of paperweights for the benefit of collectors, new and established. Even a small personal library can be an invaluable resource for collectors. This is still true, even in today’s online Google-based research world. Selman’s first effort was Paperweights for Collectors, which he co-authored with his first wife, Linda Pope. The book proved indispensable, and many other titles followed.

First paperweight book authored by Lawrence H. Selman and Linda Pope and published by Paperweight Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawrence Selman introduced a series of books titled The Art of the Paperweight, the first of which was a coffee-table edition, considered a must for collectors. This book is now available in digital form on our website. Other books in the series included The Art of the Paperweight, Saint Louis, by Gerard Ingold, which depicted modern paperweights made in the Saint Louis Factory in France from 1970 through 1981. This was followed by The Art of the Paperweight, Perthshire, which included photos and descriptions all paperweights made at the Perthshire factory through 1983.

The Art of the Paperweight series

The ever popular All about Paperweights, first published in 1992, was reprinted many times, with later editions including an updated price guide. Songs Without Words, The Art of the Paperweight, Rick Ayotte, was published in 1997, a comprehensive record of the artist’s work from 1978 through 1995.

In addition to the Art of the Paperweight series, Paperweight Press went on to publish many titles by various experts in the field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Hollister’s Paperweight “Bible”; the Mahoney / McClanahan documentation of Perthshire’s vast paperweight production

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Elder’s memoir of paperweight collecting; the Exhibit catalog of Texas PCA collectors, starring their amazing collections

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a comprehensive list of books available from Paperweight Press, see our website: https://www.theglassgallery.com/publications

In 1975, Paperweight News was launched—a regular newsletter for collectors with information, announcements about upcoming events, paperweight terminology, glossaries, history, humor and trivia. Many articles were contributed by paperweight collectors.

First Issue of Paperweight News, January 1975

 

 

Last issue of Paperweight news, 1993

Selman continued to travel regularly to antique shows around the country, announcing upcoming trips via post cards mailed to collectors who lived in the area to be visited.

Newspaper clipping of Larry Selman at an antique fair.

Selman also traveled to artist fairs where he encouraged budding glass workers to try their hand at making paperweights; he was instrumental in helping establish Jim Lundberg and Mark Cantor and their studio in Davenport, California, which spawned a group of artists—some of whom are still active today.

Early in his paperweight career, Selman began attending meetings of the Paperweight Collectors Association (PCA), founded in 1953 by Paul Jokelson, with multiple regional chapters for collectors, dealers, and artists. Selman attended all of the biannual national meetings of the PCA until he sold the business in 2009, after which the new owners have continued to represent the company at PCA events.  Over the years, L. H. Selman Ltd. contributed many articles to the organization’s annual publication the PCA Bulletin.

Attendees at an early PCA meeting

Larry Selman and Paul Hollister identify rare weights at a PCA meeting

Early Paperweight Maker, Paul Ysart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ray Banford and Larry Selman, 1979

Larry Selman and Paul Stankard,, 1984

Paperweight artists at a PCA event, 1987. See how many you can identify!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1971, Selman moved to San Francisco, where catalogs two through five were published, the latter partially in color.

The 1973 closepack from Perthshire (left, bottom right) was offered for $130, James Lundberg paperweights were priced at $32; on a separate page, a Paul Standard floral weight could be had for $200.

L. H. Selman Ltd. Gallery in Santa Cruz:

Eventually the business was incorporated as L. H. Selman Ltd, in Santa Cruz, California, where Selman had moved in 1974 in order to keep playing early music with his friends. Employees were hired, and a modest brick and mortar gallery was established at 761 Chestnut Street, which became something of a mecca for paperweight enthusiasts worldwide. At this point, Selman was better known in New York or London than in Santa Cruz. “It’s hard for people to take me seriously,” he frequently recalled. “I say I’m a paperweight dealer and I get a look like, ‘Yeah, right! Tell me another story.’”

761 Chestnut Street, Santa Cruz, California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1976 son Matthew was born, followed by son Noah in 1978. Larry continued playing early music in Santa Cruz with Bill Matthews, who he had met in San Diego, and a cadre of local early music aficionados. He played concerts with The Antiquariun Funks, The Byrd Consort, and The Santa Cruz Baroque Festival.

Newspaper announcement of concert to be played with Stephen Pollard and Mary Elliott, 1975

Early staff at L. H. Selman Ltd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While serving on the board of directors for the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, Selman met Marti Edwards, who shared his passion for early music. In 1989, Larry married Marti, who soon joined him in the business, where she worked as an active partner for the next twenty years. Marti Selman recalls, “Because we met so late in life, we decided to treasure each day together and savor our lives intensely, treating each year as though it were five. By this reckoning, we have now been married 150 years!”

The home base in Santa Cruz continued to grow. Support staff were added, including a computer programmer (Stephen), a writer (Ron), office staff (Stephanie, Carol and others), and sales staff (Suzanne and others)—the latter three staying with the company for multiple decades. Customer service was considered a top priority. From the beginning and throughout its history, L. H. Selman Ltd. has always maintained a “satisfaction guaranteed” policy. If a collector was not entirely pleased with a purchase, it could always be returned for a full refund.

Paperweight Auctions:

Selman found himself regularly traveling to the world’s most prestigious auction houses (Sotheby’s and Christie’s in London and Parke-Bernet in New York), where he would acquire weights for his stock or serve as an agent to collectors.

Larry previewing weights at an auction house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One particular collector, Arthur Rubloff, a colossal real estate developer from Chicago, enlisted Selman to bid for him at auction—a relationship that lasted many years. When Rubloff bequeathed his famous paperweight collection to the Art Institute of Chicago, Selman appraised it for the museum. The paperweight collection at the Art Institute remains one of the museum’s most popular exhibits.

Arthur Rubloff and friend, PCA convention 1975

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1990, to celebrate Selman’s first 20 years in business, Paul Jokelson encouraged Selman to host a paperweight auction. Jokelson had decided to sell his most prized paperweight—the famous Bird in the Nest, which he had bought at an antique store in Paris in 1925, and which had first piqued his interest in paperweights. Over the years he had attempted to learn more information about the piece, but neither the dealer who sold it to him or anyone else had seen anything like it before or since. Jokelson offered the paperweight as the linch-pin for this new auction endeavor—the first of many to follow (seventy, to date). Selman auctions began as telephone sales and evolved into today’s online bidding model. The Bird in the Nest sold for $182,600 and held the world record for a time as the highest-priced paperweight ever sold at auction.

First auction catalog, featuring Paul Jokelson’s famous Bird in the Nest paperweight

Collector Jerry Gard previews paperweights at one our of early phone / mail auctions.

Paperweights on the Internet:

Selman had long been fascinated with the seeming magic of mail order. “Here I am in California, and I can do business with someone on the other side of the country—or the world. It seems like magic.” As part of his mail order business, he established the International Paperweight Society—a sort of loyalty club where members were eligible for special offers, including free shipping of paperweights purchased. Think Selman Prime. Other benefits included an annual paperweight calendar, and various goodies such as calipers for measuring paperweight dimensions, and a variety of desk accessories—always paperweight related.

The advent of the internet deepened Selman’s interest in communicating with people from far away. He had taken some early computer code-writing classes in the 1970s, which served him well when he decided to single-handedly set up a website for the Society, with a chat group for members and pages about individual paperweight artists. The Society grew in membership and became a cadre of serious paperweight collectors who would attend many events which L. H. Selman Ltd. would host.

Here are the opening paragraphs of a press release (complete with photo attached) announcing Selman’s new presence on the internet, 1995:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the paperweight auctions grew in popularity, the ease of bidding online brought about many changes to how these auctions were held. Selman eventually hired a professional programmer to write the computer code for the online auctions, and actually partnered with Amazon to hold one of the first live auctions ever to be held on the internet. From that point on, the auctions were held online rather than by telephone, with bids coming in from around the world on a 24-hour basis.

Paperweight Festivals:

In 1992, after recently hosting Bar Mitzvah parties for their two sons, the Selmans decided to use their newly-acquired party-planning skills to host a paperweight Festival for members of the International Paperweight Society. Marti had previously had experience in organizing conferences in her earlier career at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The Paperweight Festival would be a weekend event in Santa Cruz, incorporating learning about how paperweights are made, meeting with artists and collectors, and serious collecting—all in a fun party atmosphere.

The Paperweight Festivals were a huge hit with collectors from around the country and Europe, who enjoyed escaping to sunny California on the second weekend of November. The first festival assembled a surprising hundred people, and the Selmans continued hosting the event for five consecutive years.

Luckily, there are two paperweight makers in the Santa Cruz area, so the schedule for the weekend always included visits to these studios. They also included all kinds of artist demonstrations in lampworking and other facets of paperweight creation. There were lectures and talks by artists, games, puzzles, door prizes, and an auction. There was always special time reserved with an artist. Some weekends included wine tasting or a sunset sail on the Monterey Bay. Others included flower arranging with Debbie Tarsitano, a birding walk with Rick Ayotte, Scottish Reel dancing with Miriam Drysdale, and a “design your own paperweight,” session with the Drysdales, where guests arranged millefiori canes which were then shipped back to Scotland for encasement. All the contemporary paperweight artists and factories were invited and were asked to join L. H. Selman Ltd. in donating a weight which would be either given as a door prize for lucky attendees, or to be auctioned to raise money for the newly-formed IPS Foundation.

Banners flown at IPS Festivals

Schedule of Events, First International Paperweight Society Festival, 1992

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Design your own paperweight with Neil and Miriam Drysdale, IPS Festival,1995

Mayuel Ward, demonstrating at IPS Festival,1995

Barry Sautner displaying his glass carving techniques, IPS Festival,1995

Randy Grubb, demonstrating at IPS Festival,1995

Chris Buzzini, demonstrating at IPS Festival,1995

Bob Banford demonstrating at IPS Festival, 1995

Rick and Clara Ayotte, IPS Festival, 1995

Wine tasting and hanging out with artists on the Chardonnay; Emcee Dan MacLeith, artists Randy Grubb, Bob Banford, Mayuel Ward, IPS Festival, 1995

Staff members Ron and Suzanne, also worked long hours and wore a lot of different hats during events

Staff members Carol, Stephanie and Candy worked long hours at the festivals, this one in 1994

Paperweight collector Daniel MacLeith (center) was the lively Emcee of the IPS Festivals

Flower arranging with Debbie Tarsitano, IPS Festival, 1994

Artist group shot, IPS Festival, 1994. Can you name them all?

Artist Group shot, IPS Festival, 1993:
L to R Mayuel Ward, Johnne Parsley, Randy Grubb, Ken Rosenfeld, Greg Held of Orient & Flume, Gordon Smith, Steve Lundberg, Mark Birchfield, Andrew Fote, Scott Beyers of Orient & Flume, William Birchfield, Chris Buzzini, Bob Banford, Daniel Salazar, Drew Ebelhare, David Salazar. Debbie Tarsitano missing from this photo but she was there (see photo below)

Gordon Smith, IPS Festival, 1993

Ken Rosenfeld, IPS Festival, 1993

Debbie Tarsitano, IPS Festival, 1993

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miriam Drysale teaches the art of dancing Scottish reels, IPS Festival,1995

Neil Drysdale, Margaret and Paul Jokelson, Miriam Drysdale relaxing at the IPS Festival, 1995

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fifth festival, held at the Pan Pacific Hotel in downtown San Francisco, drew over 300 attendees, and featured as special guest speaker, paperweight collector Robin Leach, host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. His repeated line at the final banquet which drew a lot of laughs, was “Suzanne has my credit card!”

Suzanne enticing Robin Leach with a potential addition to his collection, IPS Festival, 1996

 

 

 

Steve Lundberg demonstrating at the San Francisco State glass studio, IPS Festival, 1996

Colin Terris of Cathness Glass, IPS Festival, 1996

Robin Leach collected paperweights with fish themes. Here he is admiring one made by Daniel Salazar, IPS Festival, 1996

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The festival also featured a special exhibit of artist Rick Ayotte’s work titled Songs Without Words: The Art of the Paperweight—Rick Ayotte. The exhibit, which was housed in a historic bank in downtown San Francisco, was open to the public for the purpose of educating people about the art form.

Viewing the Ayotte Exhibit, titled Songs Without Words, IPS Festival, 1996

Melissa, Rick and Clara Ayotte with Margaret and Paul Jokelson at the Ayotte Exhibit at Union Bank, San Francisco, IPS Festival, 1996

Exhibit catalogue for Ayotte exhibit during IPS Festival in San Francisco, 1996

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year at the IPS Festival, Paul Jokelson was crowned “King of Paperweights” in a ceremony at dinner on Saturday evening. “Her Royal Majesty” Margaret Jokelson also graced us with her presence. Every year, this crowning ceremony became more and more elaborate. The King reveled in all this attention, and jokingly offered his ring to be kissed.

Le Roi Des Presse-Papiers on his throne, First IPS Festival, 1992

The King of Paperweights being presented with a glass scepter by Steve Lundberg, who made the scepter, now kisses his ring in jest and admiration, as Emcee Daniel Macleith looks on, IPS Festival, 1995

Bob Banford crowns the King with a glass diadem he has made for Paul Jokelson, IPS Festival, 1996

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But enough fun and frivolity. The International Paperweight Society has been responsible for more than just festivals.

IPS Foundation:

In the early 1990s The International Paperweight Society Foundation was established as a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization for the purpose of supporting the art form and educating the public.

One of the Foundation’s first endeavors was to set up a traveling exhibit of 57 classic antique and 51 contemporary paperweights which would travel internationally. The exhibit, titled Challenging Tradition, contained paperweights from L. H. Selman Ltd. and various private collections and from November, 1993 to January, 1995 traveled to six different locations around the US and Scotland, with a color catalog commemorating the exhibit.

Challenging Tradition was exhibited at the Art Museum of Santa Cruz, California; MSC Forsythe Center Galleries at Texas A & M University; the Muscatine Art Center, Muscatine, Iowa; Scone Palace, Perth, Scotland (accompanied by artist Randall Grub); the Jones Museum of Glass and Ceramics, Douglas Hill, Maine; and Villa Terrace Museum of the Decorative Arts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Larry Selman, Jeanette and Randy Grubb, Peter McDougall at Scone Palace, Challenging Tradition Exhibit, 1994

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years the IPS Foundation funded scholarships for new paperweight artists (The Jokelson Fund); raised funds via a special online auction for glass artist Steve Lundberg to purchase a van after he contracted ALS and could no longer drive; established a paperweight museum on the West Coast; and, through the work of the Clark family, donated funds to expand and refurbish the Arthur Rubloff paperweight exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Brochure soliciting donations for the Jokelson Fund

New Gallery in Santa Cruz:

By the late 1990s, L. H. Selman Ltd., was running out of room in its original location on Chestnut Street. With a showroom (Larry’s office), a packing / shipping and storage room, and 10 employees crowded in three small offices, the Selmans began looking around for a new location. In 1998 they found a two-story, 5,000 square foot office building just 3 blocks away on Locust Street, and hired paperweight collector and friend Daniel MacLeith to refurbish the space. The upper floor would offer spacious office and conference space while the bottom floor would become a beautiful gallery and museum space.

The new space—The Glass Gallery—was large enough to accommodate plenty of paperweights in its mahogany cabinets, as well as floor space to accommodate pedestals to display contemporary glass sculpture. When the business moved to Chicago in 2009, MacLeith’s mahogany cabinets moved to the new location on Michigan Avenue, appropriately across the street from Chicago’s Art Institute.

New gallery at 123 Locust Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of major paperweight glass houses were represented: Baccarat, St. Louis, Perthshire, Caithness, Orient and Flume; as well as all of the contemporary studio paperweight artists, including Rick Ayotte, Melissa Ayotte, Bob Banford, Ray Banford, Chris Buzzini, Andrew Byers, John Deacons, Jim Donofrio, Drew Ebelhare, Randall Grub, Michael Hunter, James Lundberg, Steve Lundberg, Perthshire Paperweights, Ken Rosenfeld, Colin and Kathy Richardson, Alison Ruzsa, David Salazar, Daniel Salazar, Barry Sautner, Gordon Smith, Paul Stankard, Debbie Tarsitano, Victor Trabucco, Mayauel Ward, and others.

Contemporary glass sculpture artists were also included, such as the work of Ed Kachurik, Michael Leeds, Jared deLong, Denali Crystal, Marsha Blaker and Paul Desomma, Duncan MacClellan, Richard Ritter, Davide Salvadore, Rick Satava, Barry Sautner, Jesse Taj, and others.

The new space offered more opportunity for gallery openings, auctions, and collectors’ meetings and museum exhibits. The museum was able to offer space for special exhibits, such as the works of a particular artist, or a sulphide collection. Larry Selman still has in his possession, a world-class collection of antique sulphide objects.

Interior of the IPS Paperweight Museum at 123 Locust Street

When a small shop space became available for rent just up the street, Selman opened a small satellite shop which was open to the public, rather than the by-appointment schedule of the large gallery. The small shop, The Glass Gallery II, offered more affordable paperweights, small sculptures and glass jewelry.

The Glass Gallery II at 103 Locust Street, Santa Cruz

Collector’s Weekends:

With the new gallery as a wonderful destination for paperweight collectors, we began hosting what we called Collectors Weekends, which offered a small number of collectors the opportunity to spend the weekend with a particular paperweight artist. A small group of collectors (usually around 10 or twelve couples) were ensconced with one of their favorite paperweight artists at the lovely Inn at Depot Hill. Activities included dining with the artist at some of the best restaurants in the area, including the historic and romantic Shadowbrook Restaurant, wine tasting at local wineries, and even trips to the local flea market—all in the company of the artist. Of course, there was always time for browsing the paperweights in the gallery.

At times, collectors and artists looked back with nostalgia at the five large festivals of former days and expressed a desire for another large event. But after five years of back-to-back festival planning, Marti was ready for a change. “I was exhausted,” she recalls. “It took a year to plan one of those weekends, and after five years, I really couldn’t do it again.” But in the end, the smaller gatherings became a favorite of collectors and artists, as well as the staff at L. H. Selman Ltd., where friendships deepened and lasting bonds were made in a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

Carl Carter learning to handle the punty under direction of David Salazar, 2001

Randy Grubb displays his slumped glass sculpture, 2001

Events with Randy Grubb usually involved some classic cars, 2001

Randy Grubb “flaming” Emcee Dan MacLeith’s rental car, 2001

Alison Ruzsa (right) poses with Marti Selman, modeling glass jewelry at Glass Weekend, 2004. L. H. Selman Ltd. “discovered” Alison at SOFA Chicago.

Paul Jokelson hamming it up with Clara Ayotte. He has put on Rick Ayotte’s name tag, 2000

Late night dessert and port; Emcee Dan MacLeith models silk paperweight boxers by Nicole Miller, 2001

Collectors picked blueberries at the Selman farm in the Santa Cruz mountains during a weekend with the Ayottes, 2001

Jim D’Onofrio demonstrating at a Collectors’ Weekend, 2001

Rare and unusual paperweights from around the world:

By now, the online auctions at L. H. Selman Ltd. were so well established that Selman did not need to travel to London and New York auctions to acquire paperweights for his customers. As the presence of L. H. Selman Ltd. on the internet grew, offers to purchase rare pieces began to surface from hitherto-unknown collections in Eastern Europe. Once again, Selman found himself traveling to Europe to buy paperweights, but this time from individuals rather than at auction. Trips to Poland and Belgium yielded a rare Pantin Lizard magnum paperweight, as well as a one-of-a-kind glass ring, possibly from Russia, both of which sold at record prices.

Rare Pantin magnum lizard paperweight

Unique “Russian Ring”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most fascinating facets of buying and selling paperweights over the years has been learning about the stories each piece has to tell. Provenance is important in all fields of collecting, of course, and each paperweight has its own history—whether we know the details or not. In a case like the rare Russian Ring, and Jokelson’s Bird in the Nest, the unique story is lost to history. But when someone is able to unearth the history of a particular paperweight, it is an exciting and satisfying find.

Paul Jokelson’s famous “Bird in the Nest” paperweight which he found in Paris

The stunning Baccarat Quadrille from the Gaylord Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selman recalls, “Over the years, we have watched particular pieces change hands numerous times. In some cases, we helped parents build a fine collection; and then when it was time to pass it on and their children were not interested, we had the pleasure of selling the collection again in one of our auctions. Of course, one of the most gratifying aspects of our career in glass paperweights has been getting to know such wonderful people. Our clients were consistently delighted with their acquisitions, and rarely did we ever encounter a collector who was dissatisfied. Life really doesn’t get any better than this!”

Marti Selman takes notes for an appraisal for a collection coming up for auction.

Passing the Torch:

With the business established for forty years, and the thought of retirement lurking in the back of his mind, Selman consulted with numerous professionals about how he might retire. But his business model didn’t fit the mold of the people who help to sell businesses. “My accountant told me to just reduce the prices and have a huge sale,” recalls Selman. “Of course, I wasn’t about to do that.”

Eventually Selman reached out to his collectors in an email, asking if anyone knew of someone who might be interested in acquiring the business. Out of several responders, the family of Wes Clark (who had been avid collectors for many years), kept surfacing as the best successor to carry on the legacy of L. H. Selman Ltd. / The Glass Gallery. On July 15, 2009, the sale documents were signed and plans were made to move the business to Chicago, where Mitch and Ben Clark would operate out of the Fine Arts Building, appropriately just down the street from the Art Institute and Arthur Rubloff’s world-class paperweight collection.

The Clarks kept the L. H. Selman Ltd. name, and continue to offer online auctions, gallery events and collector’s weekends, while promoting the new work of paperweight artists as well as educating the public about the art form.

Larry and Marti Selman (right) “passing the torch” to Ben and Mitch Clark

Post Script:

Since selling the business to the Clark family in 2009, Selman has returned to his early passions of photography and playing early music on the viola da gamba. Larry and Marti have traveled extensively for bird and street photography.

Selman’s ongoing passion for photography can be seen at the following websites:

For birds:  http://www.MostlyBirds.com

For black and white street photography:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/lselman/

Most recently, Larry has gone back to his early passion of playing the viola da gamba with other lovers of early music.

(At left) Larry Selman playing viola da gamba at the home of Michael Foote, Tucson, AZ

Photos courtesy of L. H. Selman Ltd. archives and photo collection of Larry and Marti Selman

L.H. Selman’s 72nd Paperweight Auction, Summer 2019

TO PLACE BIDS CLICK HERE : AUCTION WEBSITE

TO PLACE BIDS CLICK HERE : AUCTION WEBSITE

LIST OF RESERVE PRICES FOR UNSOLD LOTS

L.H. Selman, Ltd. is pleased to announce our Summer 2019, 72nd Glass Paperweight Auction, featuring 336 lots, antique and modern, as well as choice paperweight-related objects. The auction is fully online, hosted on our AUCTION WEBSITE. A web friendly digital e-catalog can be viewed at E-CATALOG, while a printed copy of the catalog is for sale at PRINT-CATALOG. For those of you who have enjoyed watching spin videos of featured pieces, they can be accessed via our YouTube Channel. If you see something to your liking, please do not fail to place an initial bid in order to ensure that you have a position in the competitive bidding that follows in the second half of the auction. Competitive bidding concludes after each lot closes, whereby the Buy-At-Reserve stage commences offering all unsold lots at their reserve prices. This stage has begins August 6th at 10am CST. A GUIDE listing the reserve price, lot number, and title for these BAR lots has been prepared at LIST.

If you’re new to our auctions, or if you would just like a refresher, we recently put together a video explaining the auction process. So we encourage you to watch for a full explanation of our unique slow close auctions, including the different stages, rules and processes. And please call us at (312) 583-1177 if you have any questions: 

 

We recommend that you give the catalog’s Conditions of Sale a careful examination for a full understanding of the protocols, and please note that we adjusted the language on our condition statements last auction. A key can be found in the Conditions of Sale on page 62 of the catalog. Please call the gallery with any questions about these changes or the auction format, and don’t forget, we’re always happy to send additional images, videos or condition reports upon request.

You can also make an appointment to see every lot in person at our gallery in Chicago, 410 S. Michigan Ave., suite 207.  We would love to see you all in person! If you prefer to place any or all bids by phone, or have any questions, just give us a call at 1-800-538-0766.

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?

Okay folks; if you go to the almighty Internet and ask what is special about the number 72, it will give you the same old answers we all learned in third grade…  Namely:

72 is the maximum number of spheres that can touch another sphere in a lattice packing in 6 dimensions.”

And also this from the Bible: “In the vision of Jacob’s Ladder in the Old Testament of the Bible (Genesis 28, 11-19) and the Zohar, Jacob was shown that there were 72 steps to the Earth and Heaven with angels traveling up and down the steps.”

Fine, Fine. BUT “72” now has a NEW, even more meaningful definition –

It is the number of the upcoming L.H. SELMAN LTD’S 72nd PAPERWEIGHT AUCTION

Yes, it had to happen, and not just because our last catalog was #71, but because you deserve it!  (Can you tell that our writing department has studied all written documents from sacred scripture to the questionable broadsides and flyers that advertised circuses and traveling medicine shows?)

Better than any book by Dan Brown on some far-fetched Da Vinci code or some such, our 72nd Catalog actually does hold the secrets of and clues to eternal happiness. Unfortunately the F.D.A. has recently said we could no longer claim specific improvements in your medical conditions but we can say that what we offer will definitely cure you if your ailments are caused by a dearth of glistening beauty in your household!    

So Step Right Up!

Locked deep within this sacred text, published long centuries weeks ago, are the clues necessary to pinpoint the exact combination of attributes you so dearly need—good sirs and madams—and that you will find awaiting to restore good health to each and every one of your artistic innards, and remind you that inside every real HEART, you’ll find “ART” inside!  (Too obvious?)

So, let us to the thrill of the chase, and may the best man WIN be a real gentleman and LET THE SECOND BEST MAN WIN FOR A CHANGE! Just kiddin’…

(QUITE FRANKLY, NO ONE DESERVES TO BE OFFERED THIS MUCH OUTSTANDING TREASURE IN ONE AUCTION, BUT THAT’S JUST WHO WE ARE!)

WANT TO BUY AN ACTUAL MEDIA CELEBRITY?

Lot 1. Rare antique Clichy rose, pansy and thistle bouquet paperweight.

(Okay, so it’s made of glass.)  Someone pulled out all the stops here, not a bad thing when you’re at war.  Word on the street has it that the weight’s main elements represent the mystical (or was it temporal) bond between the great countries of France, England and Scotland during the Crimean War. It’s been rumored some of these weights were actually used in battle (cringe!) which would explain the rarity of this one, which is in Fine Condition. Anyway, the amazingly successful and elegantly complex design is expertly centered and the glasswork is so fine that the assemblage resembles a three-dimensional etching with exquisite hand tinting. This represents an aesthetic and political triumph that will stand the test of time – an early attempt at a European Union!  Such history and worth the price just for the work on the thistles alone! This little masterpiece is also the heaviest crystal for its size that we can remember. Why can’t international politics always be this beautiful?

P.S.  This is the EXACT SAME WEIGHT that rocked “Antiques Roadshow” – (Google £22,000 Paperweight and watch…)  Now you can do more than witness history – you can buy it!  (Sorry – monarchs held for ransom cannot be applied as payment for this limited one-time offer!)

EXPECT AN ARMORED KNIGHT TO SHOW UP!

Lot 3. Rare and exceptional antique Bacchus close concentric millefiori paperweight.

A beautiful example of the basic color prism laid out in classical concentric rings.  Striking reds and happy yellows protected by a ring of royal blues and luscious aqua-greens, with breathing room provided by comforting sheets of white, wrapping and nestling each color against the chilblains, a common ailment in Victorian England and beyond. (You youngsters can look that up and be grateful for central heating!)  This might have belonged to Charles Dickens – or probably not! However, history teases us again in this artwork, as 3 (a mystical number itself!) Heraldic Canes nervously provoke the imagination with their arcane, unknown references. Don’t be surprised if the Crown calls upon you one day to return this to Windsor Castle!

WITH TRANSFUSIONS FROM LIVING ROSES?

Lot 6. Rare antique Baccarat “thousand petal” red rose paperweight.

“Step Right Up and Make a Fortune, Gentlemen!!”  Okay, actually we mean save a fortune.  Why? Because for a small investment you can save yourself from ever again having to buy flowers!!  That’s right, take advantage of this limited offer and your duly intended will be so taken with the eternal beauty of this perfect rose, that all you’ll need to do for the next several decades is remember to pick up a card at the pharmacy.  Seriously, though – this rose is captivating with seriously sensual tones that bespeak a living presence, such is the effect of the incredible craftsmanship here. And all is given an electric burst of energy by a perfectly engineered starburst cut base.  

WHO LEFT THE LIVING ROOM DOOR OPEN?

Lot 7. Rare antique Baccarat spaced concentric millefiori and Gridel silhouettes carpet ground paperweight.

We just received this high-end carpet and someone left the French doors open again.  Which is appropriate for a French paperweight we guess, but who has time to keep an eye on all the animals in the living room?  At least they seem to be clean, well-behaved and beautifully detailed. And they respect each other’s spaces, while sharing a soft and inviting stardust carpet with joyful red dots.  An elegant example of beauty and behavior—a well-groomed weight of classical lineage. Dry Clean Only.

THE FULL MONTY, THE WHOLE ENCHILADA!

Lot 9. Extremely rare and very fine antique Clichy scrambled millefiori and signature cane paperweight.

By which of course, we mean A COMPLETE CLICHY SIGNATURE! The studio was rightfully being loud and proud about this riotous circus of shameless colors and barely controlled chaos that is a party of one anywhere! Full signatures are rarer than steak tartare.  Seriously if your friends don’t ask for a cocktail or begin to dance against their will upon encountering this living, breathing artwork, feel free to banish them to the colonies. You actually won’t even need friends if you have this. Someone get this paperweight a microphone, because it has a message for all of us, and that is to “Live Life to the Hilt!”

Lot 9 signature detail.

MORE VALUABLE THAN ITS NAMESAKE?

Lot 12. Very rare antique Saint Louis six-paneled close packed millefiori and twists paperweight.

That’s right, boys and girls!  Given that the fledgling United States bought stolen property from Napoleon in 1803 to the tune of 15 million dollars for over 800,000 square miles, we reckon that the land that Saint Louis, Missouri occupies cost less than your average antique French paperweight of this caliber. (That same land is valued at 1.2 trillion dollars these days). So you appear to have missed the boat on snapping up a deal in St. Louis and it’s time to satisfy yourself with its namesake at an affordable price.

That is to say you should consider this glorious Saint Louis six-panel paperweight, sporting a spectacular and unusual array of complex canes (call for close-ups) all coming together at the apex—a porcelain-looking blue and white complex floret cane.  Its 28-point cog has some symbolism of its own, as you know 28 heartbeats are necessary for a drop of blood to traverse our body’s circuit. Don’t call the F.D.A., that’s not technically a medical claim! All lightness aside, this is a masterwork. Take a good look.

SEND IN THE CLOWNS… AND THE TURKEYS!

Lot 15. Antique Saint Louis close concentric millefiori and silhouettes paperweight.

There is a mystery to this beautiful paperweight that we think we have found clues to.  First, though, we are legally bound to point out the very unusual, sophisticated and delightful chromatic balance between the handsome circles of complex canes.  The balance achieved here is quite pleasing to our eyes and represents an unusual arrangement. The blues and greens on the perimeter with the delicate reds at the edges stand nicely apart from, but still relate to the top center elements with echoes of colors.  And a nice depth of field is created by the unusual spacing, which allows the colors to draw your eyes down the stems, giving an enhanced dimensionality to this wonderful piece.

Okay you say, but what else?  Well, we think we know why the 9 dogs (oh boy does “9” carry lots of symbolism) are interested in this classic clown.  Research shows that the mid-17th century origin of Punchinello likely came from Polecenella, which may have been a diminutive of pollecena, a young turkey cock with a hooked beak, which Punchinello’s profile clearly brings to mind!  So there – the dogs are chasing dinner for the master! And that explains the arrowhead canes (First Nation knows a turkey when it sees one) surrounding the head.  And who knew that European hounds from over two hundred years ago were up on their etymologies!!! (Too much of a stretch? YOU try writing like this sometime!)

NEVER BE IGNORED AGAIN!

Lot 19. Antique Baccarat close packed millefiori and Gridel silhouettes paperweight necklace and gold chain. (OPTIONAL BACK BRACE AVAILABLE IN 3 SIZES.)

You could walk into the Governor’s Ball a week late, and if you’re brandishing this lustrous statement of barely contained opulence, the attendees will start returning from home just to say they saw you and your millefiori necklace there, and the press will have to rewrite the gossip columns.  When they send the reporters and photographers over to interview your jewel-like wonder, don’t be afraid to speak up and say, “HEY, My Eyes Are Up Here!

WATCH WHAT YOU SAY AROUND HERE!

Lot 24. Very rare New England Glass Company parrot on a branch paperweight.

Before we had Siri and Echo, People and some pirates from Central Casting owned Parrots for company!  Since this rather dignified antique avian glass delight will neither spill your secrets nor ever soil its lovely cage, it offers perfect company.  And while Siri can’t wait to share your vocal musings, this confident and handsome parrot with a wonderfully alert expression will listen to you attentively and guard your confidences forever.  See, you can buy loyalty!

NOT AFRAID TO TELL ITS AGE…!

Lot 33. Antique Baccarat 1848 spaced concentric millefiori and Gridel silhouettes paperweight.

You see before you an example of French classic beauty, kind of like Catherine Deneuve, but a little younger.  (Put the Phone Down – We’re Joking!!) Catherine, a truly timeless beauty, is about 76 years young and this Baccarat just turned 171, with a very minor facelift (polishing) that left tons of glass to reflect light and dazzle you, its rightful next owner.  (Yes, you know who you are!)  This classic weight wears its age proudly in bright if tiny colors on its waistband! The only thing better would be Catherine’s mellifluous tones describing it to you.  We’re still waiting to hear back on that.

BETWEEN REVOLUTION AND WAR LIES ART

Lot 51. Antique Clichy Napoleon III sulphide pedestal paperweight.

That’s right, history buffs, this Napoleon came to power after the 1848 Revolution as president of the Second Republic and “left office” when he was captured during the Franco Prussian War in 1870.  But don’t let that disappointing personal batting average keep you from enjoying this particularly interesting paperweight. Nice of him to find time to pose for this artwork between conflicts. A brightly hued green glass base provides the perfect background for this almost iridescent sulphide portrait resting in a clear, low dome.  To look at his severe but serene expression, you’d think he was still in power!

And with tearful apologies to the 66 remaining antique lots we move on to more recent centuries…

HARVARD’S GOT NOTHING ON JERSEY, BABY!!

Lot 81. Paul Stankard 2002 “Morning Glory with Damselfly and Ant” paperweight, from the Walt Whitman series.

That’s Right! Word on the street says Czech artists Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolph did a pretty good job hammering together their over 4000 glass models of plants representing more than 830 plant species; apparently this is a big deal at Harvard where the models reside. But WE have Jersey and that means Paul Stankard and his output of phenomenally exquisite and faithful glass interpretations of nature.  And, the best part is that you can acquire a Stankard of your very own. (Actually when we called Harvard to see if they would consign any of the works in the Blaschka collection, they just kept laughing and hanging UP!) So anyway we believe Paul’s work ranks above the Blaschka team, especially if you put his orbs on the top shelf. And on top of that, Paul creates outstanding insects and human figures – a challenge that has gone unanswered.  

So Hands Down, South Jersey beats Harvard!

SO TAKE THAT, Mark Zuckerberg, Helen Keller, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Conan O’Brien, Henry David Thoreau, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Leonard Bernstein, and F.D.R….  Jersey Rules!   

ONLY HITCHCOCK UNDERSTOOD THEIR ANGER

Lot 94. Mantua Glass Studio 2002 salamander paperweight, by David Graeber.

Okay, originally this was going to be about how birds can’t catch a break!  If they’re not being sucked into plane engines, they’re having to wear discarded napkins to avoid breathing Roundup insecticide and trying to figure out just what happened to the proper change of seasons!  Why the only safe place for them is in a glass studio!! BUT, it turns out this little fella hasn’t broken into a poor mother bird’s egg – he himself had just plopped out of it! At least that was his story when we asked him.  Alive for 5 minutes and he’s been profiled!  Not good. But he’s (if it’s a he) so beautifully constructed with handsome coloring subtly mottled, statistics say he’ll have a charmed life, and we bet he will be dutifully buying his organic eggs like the rest of us.  A wonderful piece by Dave for Mantua, but we’re not surprised!

THIS TIME THERE WILL BE SUSPENSIONS!

Lot 96. Andrew Byers 2007 New Zealand marigolds and crocus double bouquet paperweight.

Okay, folks.  Last time around there was a bit of flurry and some elbowing in line at the door of Andrew’s lot before it opened.  PLEASE BEHAVE! You’d think these were unusual or something. Although…this joyful arrangement is rather breathtaking…!

WINNER OF THE BRAND NEW AUDUBON AWARD!

Lot 103. Rick Ayotte 2000 “Wetland Wonders” heron, turtle and purple iris rectangular paperweight.

Okay we made up the award.  But honestly, if Audubon DID give awards for beautiful verisimilitude of nature in the wild, this could win First Place twice in the same year!  So striking in color and design. And we dearly love the fact that the frog, heron and turtle seem as close as Winnie, Tigger and Eeyore. The Pooh cast members were also friends off-camera, right?  

JUST TOO CUTE FOR WORDS!

Lot 119. Rick Ayotte 1987 “Grassland Yellow Finch with Wild Barberry Flowers” miniature paperweight.

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AND YOU’RE BUYING A STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN!

Lot 120. Barry Sautner (2008) “Striving Nirvana” men and angel carved sculpture.

Seriously this is a museum quality objet d’art, with a master’s hand behind a carved glass human tower of supplicants reaching for the divine.  The complexly carved angel’s wings that can adorn the back of the man closest to the heavens are removable and offer pause for reflection on the nature of fate and salvation.  We beseech you to ask for detailed images.

CHARLOTTE’S WEB FOR ADULTS!

Lot 127. Debbie Tarsitano, Delmo Tarsitano and Max Erlacher 1984 collaborative lampwork flowers, spider and etched web compound paperweight.

It’s been too long since we actually read that book but since we just mentioned the Winnie the Pooh gang…  Anyway if you saw this imposingly striking spider, you know what we mean. Think of the E.B. White classic being newly illustrated by say, Quentin Tarantino – we mean this is one gorgeously adult spider.  And this in the midst of such lovely florals. Debbie and her father Delmo have teamed up with the great Austrian glass engraver Max Erlacher to complete the narrative. Complete with a dragonfly trapped in a silky, etched web–not for the faint of heart.  A masterful work!

TRIPPING THE LIGHT FANTASTIC!

Lot 133. Chris Buzzini 1992 red roses fancy-cut faceted paperweight.

That elegant phrase came dancing back into our minds as we (carefully) twirled this large jewel in our hands and the light literally danced up and down and around it in joyful curves. The cut glass alone is so exquisite, that you would be grateful to own this if it encased nothing more than an old wisdom tooth. But at no extra charge you instead receive a pair of absolutely and we mean totally flawless, red roses!  Stop the cameras right there! It can’t get better than that! True Love not included, but you won’t care!

WHO YOU LOOKIN’ AT?

Lot 157. Jim D’Onofrio 1997 pair of yellow and black frogs paperweight.

These wonderfully imagined frogs are thought to favor flies but here they seemed poised for an eating contest. But the plants in question are simply too beautiful to desecrate by ingestion, so they will just dare one another to start something for eternity, or at least until winter comes…

KISS YOUR BLUE CROSS POLICY GOODBYE

Lot 170. Parabelle Glass 1995 close concentric shamrock millefiori paperweight.

That’s right kids!  We can go back to skating and bicycling without helmets.  Seatbelts are for others – others who don’t have the ultimate lucky talisman, namely this all-out, no-holds-barred Parabelle Official Shamrock Shield.  Never fear illness or adversity again. Why now, you can even go confidently to fine restaurants on the weekend without a reservation. The Shamrock Shield has you covered!  Health and good fortune are yours forever. Each magical paperweight comes equipped with one sack of potatoes and a handbook of ripostes by Oscar Wilde!

CAN A COLOR BE A SENTIENT BEING?

Lot 206. Saint Louis 1997 “Ruche bleu” honeycomb paperweight.

Let’s hope not.  The world is strange enough with artificial intelligence writing its own code and hesitating to obey, while waiting for the Singularity (you don’t want to know.)  We can’t also have colors that are awake and aware. But this honeycomb comes close. Maybe this weight is the original reason we first heard the expression “IN LIVING COLOR” on our old Zeniths and Motorola televisions!  Truly drop dead gorgeous and luscious!

Honey and bees extra.

All right, we see you looking at your watches so we’ll wrap this up in just a few… but it’s a real agony deciding which works get special attention when so many deserve it!

AN EXTREMELY COOL COLOR COMBO

Lot 222. Baccarat 1968 aqua and coral close packed concentric millefiori paperweight.

Possibly the most charming and unusual color combinations in the auction.  Enchanting shades of blue working perfectly together to soothe the eye while teasing it a little at the same time.

BACK TO BASICS AND GLAD TO BE HOME!

Lot 312. Perthshire Paperweights 1986 close packed millefiori paperweight.

We leave you with sadness but the pets at home are waiting and many of you know what that means, so our last thoughts today are about the comforting beauty of this timeless classic design and pointillist beauty, that is the close packed millefiori.

Until next time kids, and remember if your dogs, cats and turtles have trashed the house because you stayed late at work to share beauty and wisdom with your friends and colleagues, their sacrifice and your décor were worth it to get the word out…

 

DANNY SALAZAR: “I Was Nobody’s Student”

TRUE TALES OF THE GOLDEN CHILD AND HOW HE MET TINA TURNER

No. 6 in the LHS Pop Mini-Bio Series 

Okay, how many of you were ready for THAT subtitle?  Press on, gentle reader…

We sat down with Danny Salazar at the recent PCA national convention, this year held in Dearborn, Michigan, and asked him to tell us his life story in the twelve minutes we had between lectures.  When he told us that he is the son of a Comanche-Apache-Italian-Spanish American father and a mother named Minnie who brought him to California from Texas in a shoebox, and that Tina Turner had once kissed him backstage, we realized the interview could take a full 20 minutes.  Nonetheless, we “set to task” (Old French) and began our relentless interrogation…  

Danny was conceived in California but born in 1956 in Del Rio, Texas, where the family had deep roots (“My mother had a thing about it…”). Soon his little stagecoach of the aforementioned shoebox shuffled him right back to actual family home in San Jose, California.  He was the fourth of six children. His father was a successful architect but in 1970, Mom moved part of the family back to Texas for Danny’s freshman year of high school. We asked if this were in response to the parents wanting their son to not be exposed to gangs and drugs, and it turns out the fear was of hippies and drugs!  So Danny completed his first three years of high school in Del Rio.  They needn’t have worried. We asked Danny about whether or not there had been a period of teenage rebellion we could discuss and the worst story he could come up with was almost being arrested once as a teenager for smoking a little joint at a carnival.  And remember this was the 1970s in California!

As it turns out, Danny’s roots really do run deep in Texas, pre-dating the state of Texas, in fact.  He was raised Methodist and his ancestors helped build the first Methodist church in the area in the 19th century.  With a tone of bemusement, the artist also shared that there was a family uncle who had been a Confederate soldier.  

In 1973 Danny returned to California to work with his brother David in a glass studio as a summer job.  That operation was just transitioning from the name Nouveau Glass to the Lundberg Studios.  Word on the street says Larry Selman had a hand in that.  It was he who convinced James and Steve Lundberg, Mark Cantor, and David Salazar to make paperweights.  Prior to that they had been primarily “surface decorators,” and often sold their works at renaissance fairs (or is that renaissance faires?).  

Anyway, in 1974 Danny began as a glass grinder.  We asked what glass the studio used and Danny said that Lundberg Studios has always made its own glass from scratch.  He was good-natured, quiet and conscientious. He laid out colors, set up the pipes, cleaned up the work areas and did whatever else that was asked of him.  By the next year he made pontil man. The studio liked him enough to want him to work full time. Danny stayed in California his senior year, living with his brother and trading sleep for school and work.  The first semester he attended classes from about 8am to noon, and then reported for his shift at Lundberg. The second semester he worked full time days and went to night classes to secure his high school diploma.  

So here’s Danny, a kid coming in raw to a studio full of older and experienced glass artists, some with college educations.  And it’s this kid, who is driven to experiment relentlessly on his own, to where he becomes the one who then elevates the quality of work produced by the studio by introducing the crew (1982-83) to truly expansive three- dimensional work!!  Impressive, and although he learned things from observing Chris Buzzini and the others, Danny modestly but firmly says, “I was nobody’s student!”

Our artist took his inspiration from nature, fused that with his knowledge of art and engineered the blend fueled by an incredible work ethic.  This all led to Daniel Salazar having his work included in the exhibitions and collections of every major museum and institution interested in contemporary glass—as well as in countless private holdings.  This productivity and inventiveness is also where Danny earned his nickname “The Golden Child,” from Jim Lundberg. Maybe that meant gold for the studio – Cha-Ching!

Danny, who has spent 34 years at Lundberg Studios, has been interested in the arts his whole life, with painting being his original first love. He seemed destined for a life in art and recalled always liking glass.  He told of being with friends and digging up bits of colored glass along the Santa Fe Pacific Railroad tracks – how he loved those cobalt blues…  From 1982-83, he studied at Cabrillo College taking classes in drawing and painting.  He loves watercolors and happily acknowledges the symbiotic bond his glass art shares with his other artistic passions.

Danny has a particular attraction to Japanese and Chinese art and has collected netsuke, woodblock prints, incense burners, and Peking glass among other artworks, antiques and furniture.  He has kept favorite examples of his own work and has collected other paperweight artists widely. He enjoys nature and is a gardener. When we asked if he were personally as sanguine as the lush, flowing and harmonious little worlds of glass he is famous for creating, he said quietly, “Yeah, pretty much.”  There you go – practically a Buddhist.

In this artistic environment Danny has made a life in Santa Cruz, with Steve Wilson, a retired parole officer and the artist’s partner of 37 years.  They share, along with so much else, a love of Hawaii and the South Sea Islands. Danny fondly remembers a trip in 1980 to Tahiti and New Caledonia. And he admits that his dream is to be able to split his year, wintering in Hawaii and summering in California. HEY! Get in line!

After more than three decades Lundberg Studios is no more. Early on, Danny’s brother David and Chris Buzzini were fired from the team.  Rumor has it that there were some strong egos bumping around in the shop! Both the Lundberg brothers have passed on.  At this point, the only room open is the sales room, where Rebecca Lundberg sells the last finished pieces. However, the Lundberg Studios has now passed into memory.  

Glass artist Chris Johnson leases the former studio space and Danny subleases space from him.  But much of Danny’s creative time these days is limited by his day job blowing scientific glass at Oxford Instruments in nearby Scotts Valley.  These days Danny also must be more careful physically, because the sumptuous weights for which he is known have exacted a toll on our artist. You guessed it – back problems!  The constant strain has made it difficult to now maneuver the heavy glass as he once did. When we asked what his daily career work regimen had been, he said “I liked to start early, about 4 am and work straight through the day, not taking breaks or eating lunch.”  (Wow, he’s lucky he can walk!) Nonetheless Danny’s still in there at bat, and we’re looking forward to masterful paperweights yet to come!

Danny smiles (we think; we were actually on the phone at this juncture) as he describes special highlights of his glass career.  Several involved his passion for music. He loves rhythm and blues, soul, reggae and more. “Because of my glass, I got to meet Tina Turner!  I met Ike Turner after first telling a guard at a concert that  ‘Yes, I know him!’ (BIG FIB!) Ike asked what I wanted and I said I had a gift for Tina, and he said, ‘Okay, follow me…’  I was actually ushered into Tina Turner’s dressing room where I spotted the dozen roses I had sent earlier. I said that I was glad they had arrived and she was totally surprised.  ‘You sent them?  THANK YOU!’ I gave her a paperweight as a gift and Tina Turner kissed me on the cheek!”

Danny also waylaid the singer James Brown with a gifted weight as he was exiting after a concert on his way to his tour bus and our artist received a surprised and gracious response.  You can tell, as Danny reminded us – this was almost 35 years ago; just try that today! Danny adores Billie Holiday and would like to have gifted her one of his gardenias, a flower she sometimes sported in her hair.  Good thing this hopeless romantic didn’t get to meet all his musical icons; he’d have given away the farm!

Other celebrities Danny has met through the miracle matchmaker of glass include Robin Leech who commissioned an aquatic scene from the artist for his mansion in the Caribbean and Andy Griffith who came into the studio and purchased several of Danny’s rose weights.  But Danny just couldn’t seem to get anywhere nearly as excited about them as when Tina planted one on him! And not being musicians, Robin and Andy had to pay for what they took home!

Despite all of these brushes with celebrities, Danny Salazar remains a genuinely modest artist.  When we mentioned recently that we had just spoken with a huge fan of his work, the artist’s reflexive reply was, “Are you sure they didn’t mean my brother?”

No, Danny, they didn’t.  

Charles Kaziun Jr., “With All Due Respect to the French…”

An American Original Shows Them What They Forgot

No. 5 in the LHS Pop Mini-Bio Series

OKAY, This one is Tough.  In our ‘Pop Mini-Bios’ thus far we were able to gain the trust of the artists who then shared inside information with us, which we of course immediately presented to you all.

Sure we were able to tease Gordon Smith in his Arizona studio about rattlesnakes and nightly coyote raids (which turned out to be true!) – and we exposed Damon MacNaught as wasting time baking bread for his family when he should have had glass in that kiln (almost true! – he does bake for them daily, but we realize now, in the kitchen).  We brought you a heart-pounding description of the destruction to Alison Ruzsa’s glass works which involved the huge metal protective building doors being flung like toys off their hinges in the episode called “Hurricane Sandy Makes a Studio Visit.” Sad and true. And recently we tugged at your heartstrings when we were the first to report about how Delmo and Debbie Tarsitano battled frostbite with bathroom hand dryers while selling paperweights at the outdoor winter fairs and flea markets.  Sensational information? Yes. Click Bait? Darn near!

But THE (pronounced thee) Charles Kaziun Jr. presents a real challenge! First of all, we never had the pleasure to meet him and he’s no longer with us.  Second of all, when it comes to this imposing icon, it’s all been said already—culminating with the Paperweight Press publication of Magic in the Glass: The Paperweight Artistry of Charles Kaziun, Jr. by Ben Drabeck, a delightful colleague and a true pillar of this community who will be seriously missed.  So think of this relatively as the TMZ treatment (ask your kids).

Charlie (he liked to be called that) was an extremely talented and determined individual. This is the kind of guy you want with you in a submarine that’s sitting wedged in the Pacific Mariana Trench with the forward torpedo room flooding.  When he saw a technical challenge he seemed to come alive with determination. Here was a rebel artist. Alone in his quest, functioning almost as the TV character MacGyver, with improvised instruments – a Chase & Sanborn coffee can as a shop burner – and flying blind as he strove to reopen the vault doors to the secrets of the ancients (okay, we’re only talking about a century and a half – just go with it).  But just try and tell him something couldn’t be done and watch the sparks fly as he proved you wrong.  Seriously, the young artist’s insatiable imagination and energy allowed him to first re-engineer the content and quality of classic era paperweights before creating his own indelible mixture of designs and executions that today stand out for their beauty and are immediately identifiable.  (Try leaving your name lying around engraved in gold and see if people don’t remember you!)

But the real reason Charlie Kaziun has retained his stature as an artist and pioneer is the quality and dedication that marked his career of almost six decades—beginning in 1934 when he was a freshman in high school.  Over his career in glass and especially early on, Charlie created vases, ashtrays, pitchers, buttons, salt dishes, pens, candelabra, and more, in addition to paperweights. It would take several more pages to describe how he bribed, cajoled and caressed the glass into the beautiful works he created so just look at the pictures this time around!

Charlie gained momentum when he began closely observing the public demonstrations by the renowned Howell family of glassblowers who decided it was easier to hire the kid than to have him arrested for stalking and industrial espionage.  Later Charlie studied at and worked (making glass instruments) for the University of Pennsylvania (1942-1967 off and on) and thrived under the mentorship of James Graham, whom Charlie called the “best scientific glassblower of his time.”  At times Charlie stayed at the University until 1 am, working on his own designs and would flat out run from his second floor workshop with his molten punty load to the annealing oven in the school’s basement before it cooled too much. Dedication.

By the late 1940s-early 1950s, a network of dealers had placed Kaziuns alongside their antique French and American pieces in their shops and galleries.  In 1945 on a summer (working) sojourn to Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory—and guys being guys—Charlie wound up annoying his future wife, Louise, before he even met her.  Actually her mom rented Charlie her daughter’s bedroom while she was at her summer job, and the eighteen year old came home to find herself demoted to the nursery! She was Fuming! (Remember – in life, you only have one chance to make a first impression!) They married a quick nine years later.

There’s no way to cover in this space all of Charlie’s achievements over the decades and besides, we’d be sued for copyright infringement by Ben Drabeck’s heirs (kidding) but suffice it to say that Charles Kaziun mastered every known technique of glass making there was and his tireless efforts were rewarded with sales and recognition long before there was much of an organized paperweight community. His was a lonely path in many respects.  Those sales and the recognition also helped him with his live-in mother, Nana, who softened her criticism of her son’s artistic efforts (she wanted him always making scientific glass) as she witnessed collector after collector coming to the house and buying everything right off the kitchen table.

One day Charlie received the biggest compliment a paperweight maker could ever wish for.  In the 1940s he had been pretty much alone in the paperweight field, but by 1952-53, Baccarat and Saint Louis had both resumed the production of paperweights.  Charlie had once said: “With all due respect to the French, I don’t think they have the patent on brains and if they had succeeded in reviving an art form of this sort over there, possibly it could be done over here.”  In 1953, Charlie and Louise attended an antique show in New York City where Paul Jokelson was displaying Kaziun weights next to mostly antiques. Representatives from both Baccarat and Saint Louis were present and after examining Charlie’s efforts, they begged him on the spot to fly home with them to show the French where they were making all their mistakes! (YES, we’re talking about being PAID to come to PARIS!)  But our hero declined their offers and continued full speed with his own work and that’s lucky for all our personal collections. In his later decades, after so many years filled with experimentation, hard work, exhibitions, success, and recognition— various health issues began to physically impair Charlie, and he really focused his future efforts on training his son Charles in the art of glass. It must have been a proud day when he told his son that the younger Kaziun’s miniature Christmas ornaments far surpassed any that he had ever made.  It was only after Charlie’s passing in 1992, however that his son Charles began making paperweights.

There’s no better way to take our leave of this woefully inadequate description of a truly talented and groundbreaking artist whose work is in every serious collection, than to quote a fragment from the writings of Louise, who, seems at some point to have forgiven Charlie for her unseemly eviction from her own bedroom…

“When I hold one of his pieces and study it, what’s inside seems to glow with life.  That’s what is so fascinating to me about paperweights. The forms and the flowers in the glass are the closest thing to eternal life we can know.”

-Louise Kaziun

 

Debbie Tarsitano: Glass as a Labor of Love

 

Sometimes in our freeform Pop Mini-Bio series, we just let go of the reins and stand aside.  Here, Debbie Tarsitano leapt into producing her narrative for us, maybe because she read our expose on Damon MacNaught and rightfully knows we can’t be trusted… okay, partially kidding.  Debbie lives with her husband Martin in Westford Massachusetts. Two grown sons and Kathryn, her 96-year old mother, round out the immediate family. And while compulsively experimenting with glass and its relationships with other art forms and materials for many years, Debbie says she wants to make one thing perfectly clear, “I’m a paperweight lover!”  This from an artist who also says, “I can’t find anything that’s as hard to make as a paperweight.”  We guess that’s why it’s called a “Labor of Love.”

Debbie:

In my life I would like to be known as honest, straightforward and sensible.  In my artwork I would like to be the wild child, having as the Tao says, “the beginner’s mind,” – inventive, unafraid and bold.  The world is my canvas and having artwork that is considered relevant to the time we live in is important. I love paperweights. I started making them in the 1970s, after years of being an accomplished painter.  

Born in 1955, I was about 13 when my dad and I bought a small group of American paperweights (with a few Muranos) at a country auction.  We were intrigued by what we had and my father particularly wanted to find out how these might have been made. He was technically adept and endlessly curious—fascination grew into experimentation and our Tarsitano Studio was born.  Dad and I shared interests in gardening, collecting and now making art. My mom Kathryn was our biggest fan and invaluable bookkeeper. We made quite a team.

I was about 19.  I would soon graduate early from Hofstra University with degrees in fine art and journalism.  (I told the dean I was already immersed in my business and had to finish quickly. For some reason he listened!)  During this time we had also become active dealers in paperweights with my father and I developing relationships with Paul Jokelson and Larry Selman.  My father bought from Larry and Larry sold our work. (I still have the Selman poster from the mid-80s of my paperweights on a background of drawings I did of inspirational flowers.)

I represented our business buying weights at Sotheby’s auctions by 1975. Friendships came quickly with members of the paperweight community in the mid-1970s. I remember being asked to donate a weight I had made to the 1976 PCA Boston Convention auction and it was bought by a very well known collector!  Paul Jokelson made me come up on stage and I was overwhelmed as he introduced me to the crowd of about 400 people. Dad and I had been selling at flea markets where the venues ranged from rural high school cafeterias to Madison Square Garden, but this was my first serious public sale and recognition! (Oh, how I recall some of those outdoor winter markets where we had to take turns warming up in the public bathrooms!)  I think that Boston was also where I met Max Erlacher, the gifted glass engraver with whom I would later collaborate.

I originally fell in love with antique paperweights, the mystery of them and the fascinating era they were created in.  In time I grew away from antique works and pursued an interest in contemporary art, studying the works of Picasso, Warhol and others.  Their bold initiatives inspired me to reach beyond the classic paperweight form. In their worlds, shape, form, design, color, imagination and the manipulation of material—all seem endless.  It was so natural for me to join in with that spirit. I was a fish in that stream, constantly developing new work. I never left paperweights—but I demanded progress; I was a protestor, hoping doors would open and create greater challenges and possibilities for the art of encasement.  Paperweights became canvases to me, inside and out, without limitations to shape or embellishment. Their interiors could tell stories and their exteriors could reinforce the ideas and concepts.

I have been an instructor at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass since 2005.  I have studied and worked there with many of the great glass innovators: Jiri Harcuba and Martin Rosol for engraving and glass-cutting; Kimiake and Shinichi Higuchi for pâte de verre; Cappy Thompson for painting on glass and Denise Stillwaggon Leone for photo transfer to glass.  I also worked with Dino Rosin of Venice making a large-scale paperweight and other sculptures. I painted the base of one collaboration, “Lens Fantasia,” with the narrative of my life’s work.

In perspective, the work I created with my Father was a perfect jumping point to new horizons.  That time had been spent learning techniques and building a foundation for the future. We were Father, Daughter, friends, and collaborators—we taught each other but we also stayed clear of each other’s ideas and set no limits upon the art.  How perfect can that be?  Work in continuous development over long periods of an artist’s life builds a major portfolio.  Sadly, Dad passed in 1991 just as he claimed the right to explore so many new areas of art. I went on to realize our dreams alone, pushing my work beyond its traditional limits and busting out towards a new future for the art of paperweight as sculpture.

For many years I routinely worked 7 days a week, with periods where I rarely enjoyed time outside other than to check on mom, who lives close by.  The moment my husband and two boys were off to school and work, I would throw myself into the studio. My sons are now grown and my husband and I share the two-car garage—my studio and his office.  Martin is a well known Management Consultant and author who also taught for a decade at the University of Pennsylvania. He just happens to be Paul Stankard’s brother. At least he knew what to expect when he met me!

I use glass from Bullseye and I still have some Schott as well.  Years ago, when there was a “lock” on the Schott glass formula most favored for making paperweights, we worked with a chemist at Schott to produce “S5” and later “S8” (with Chris Buzzini) which worked extremely well and which we did not patent.  It was available to all. I recently took the plunge and had a custom HUB Consolidated kiln built for my studio to handle larger works.

Experimentation is not fun; talented people suffer and it is lonely.  But it is a necessity in creating new and profound works of original art.  I can’t describe the thrill of dropping molten glass on the most delicate of flame works, opening the kiln, seeing the perfection and mystery of glass in its completion as a work of art. But I can share with you that the result brings something better to this world.

Collectors give the art works temporary homes.  They are custodians of the art, safeguarding treasure until the next generation is ready to discover it.  Ultimately collectors and historians will make of my work what they each see in it. (I do have concepts and stories about my work, but those are personal, written for myself.)  It is left to the viewers of my art to discover my intentions and decide for themselves what of them to make their own.  My own mission in life is to continue creating art with the greatest, most honest intention possible and to leave something behind that is good.

It has been quite a life of artistic creation (experiment, sacrifice and occasional triumph), collaboration, sales, and exhibitions—not to mention a full family life.  What? You’re asking me what I do on vacation, now that I take some time off occasionally?

I go beachcombing for sea glass.

Debbie Tarsitano

You must avail yourselves of the splendid interview that Ben Drabeck conducted with Debbie; read “Transitions: A Journey in Glass,” published in the Annual Bulletin of the Paperweight Collectors Association, Inc. 2014.  It’s invaluable. We thank Ben for this insightful contribution (among so much else) to the glass community; he will be sorely missed.

D A R T H   G R A E B E R  :  E P I S O D E  V

D A R T H   G R A E B E R  :  E P I S O D E  V 

“C R E A T I N G   W O R L D S   I N   F L A M E!”

Dave Graeber arrived in Chicago this cool April weekend and claimed to us that he was here to oversee the installation of the first (5!) permanent flame work stations at the non-profit Project Fire Studio. He is also giving the first demonstrations utilizing the new units, and making certain that certain safety guidelines and protocols are understood and followed. (Apparently fire gets really hot.) The issuing of several sets of specific equipment, including special glasses will also reinforce the lessons of careful use and responsible stewardship upon individual trainees.

Dave is aided in his task by a donation made on behalf of the Glass Paperweight Foundation. The donation provided funds for the necessary torches, tanks, glass, equipment, wood for the benches, and the special “PF” monogrammed after dinner mints.

But the true motive for his visit began to unravel, as Dave broke down and began to tell the whole sordid story.  Yes, he (as we’re writing) is at the PF Studio teaching the art of glass and guiding young lives but that is not really why he’s here.

Dave Graeber came dressed as a full-blown Starship Stormtrooper.  At least that’s how he wanted to appear in our gallery before making headlines at the massive Star Wars 20th Annual Convention at our lakefront McCormick Center!

But tragically he proved too big for his son’s outfit and he was forced to come in his other disguise, that of an ordinary Earthling.  That hasn’t stopped him, however, from making some strange new friends from other planets (see picture). How Dave has managed to also find time to create some of his own little worlds in glass is beyond us.  Maybe a little help from a “Dark Father” and his abuse of The Force? Hey! Suddenly we can’t breathe…Sorry, Darth, we were just kidding!!!

We can’t wait to see how he shows up in Dearborn for the PCA Convention!

Upcoming Travel Dates, Spring 2019

 

And we are looking forward to seeing you all! We will be bringing the finest in glass paperweight artworks with us as we (carefully) journey all across the country in 2019. And if you are considering consigning or selling a collection, we are also available to make special stops en route to view and pick up your artworks or we may also arrange a separate visit to come your way. Just give us a call!

Delaware Valley PCA: April 13th, 2019

PCA Dearborn/Flint: May 15th-18th, 2019

Northern California PCA: September 21st, 2019