It is not known exactly why French glass factories pursued the making of paperweights with such intensity and vigor during a short twenty-year period in the mid-1800s. Perhaps the factories saw paperweights as a means of showing off their glassmaking skills or as a way of luring prospective customers from other glass houses. Perhaps these objects, which contain intricate millefiori designs and carefully constructed lampwork flowers and fruit, were a way glass craftsmen could exercise their creative and technical skills and experiment on a small scale.
Whatever the reasons may have been behind the making of paperweights, we are gifted with a unique body of work, created over a relatively short period of time, which nonetheless expresses a creative and technical peak in glassmaking history.
Glass paperweights from the classic period (1840-1860) have captivated collectors and historians for many years. These works have also inspired contemporary glassmakers and artists. We are indeed fortunate to be living in a time when paperweight making is experiencing a strong revival. A new generation of paperweight makers is carrying on in the classic tradition while utilizing modern technology and infusing their work with a contemporary vitality.
It is my hope that The Ait of the Paperweight will serve as a valuable tool for experienced collectors and students of paperweight and glass history. I also hope this book will provide an accessible and easy-to-understand introduction to a new generation of paperweight enthusiasts.
Lawrence H. Selman