“I found a wonderful art glass vase at a house sale, but I left behind some pottery and a paperweight and now it’s weighing heavy on my mind.”
Lou Ann, a 31 Club Member who often finds wonderful items at fantastic prices, said that to me last week. I can honestly say that after 40 years in the business, I still ask myself what I might have left behind at a sale. The voice in my head says to me, “That piece of pottery might have been better than you thought, and that painting could’ve turned out to be a real winner, Daryle. Why didn’t you buy it.” I even find myself churning these thoughts in my mind months after the sale. Although I try not to think about what I might’ve missed, I’m only human.
I don’t know if the pottery Lou Ann left behind was special, but at a low enough price, I would have taken the chance since I was already there. However, the real story might have been the paperweight.
Most people know very little about paperweights, so having the knowledge can give us a big leg up on finding that special one.
Paperweights only have had two great periods in their development, first from 1840 to 1860 and then starting in 1952 and continuing today.The most famous companies producing paperweights during their heyday in the first period were the St. Louis Company, Baccarat, Clichy, Bacchus and Whitefriars. Soon after this period, the art of making paperweights landed in America with companies such as The New England Glass Company, Gillinder, Mt. Washington and later Millville.
Try to get a look at some of these early pieces because they are just fantastic, produced with amazing quality. I could spend the next ten pages just describing them, but this would do you very little good, and I highly recommend you buy a few good books on paperweights. Second hand books are just fine. In fact, we’d sure appreciate it if you used our site if you order books from Amazon, because it helps us keep this site up and running. Take a look at this good guide for starters: Collectors’ Paperweights: Price Guide and Catalog
The second period of paperweights starting in 1952 with companies like Lundberg, Orient and Flume, Perthshire, Stankard, Ysart and a name I’m sure you’re already familiar with – Lotton. Lotton’s pieces are going up in value as we speak. Baccarat is producing weights that challenge the early the early ones for beauty. Each of these companies have made outstanding paperweights for the collectors.
Early pieces can bring over $100,000 and it isn’t unusual to find ones priced from $10,000 to $25,000. In fact, it is very hard to find a great example that doesn’t bring over $500. Like almost everything else, when the paperweight market got hot, the fakes and reproductions spilled out into the market place, but most of them are so bad, my nine-year-old can tell the difference.
How do we know what paperweights are worth, and how can they be identified?
Here’s a little secret. Most people pick up a paperweight and look on the bottom, finding nothing and put it back down. But, most paperweights are identified by marks within the weight itself. Baccarat has figures within the canes that even give you the date they were made. Often the maker’s initials are marked within the design of the weight, and you will have to look very carefully to find them. Take time to study every paperweight you see, because just one might put several thousand dollars in your pocket.
Get those books and study them. They will more likely only set you back a few dollars, but owning them could prove invaluable.
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