Discontinued Collectibles Guide

Paperweight Collectibles

Collectable paperweights

Glass paperweights, composed of millefiori canes covered in clear glass, first appeared in the 1830s in Bohemia and Silesia. The idea spread quickly to other places such as Venice, France, and England, helped by the growing popularity of International Exhibitions and Fairs. The years from 1845 to 1860 are regarded as the classic period for antique paperweights. During this period and shortly after, at least 30,000 paperweights were made by French factories (including Baccarat, Saint-Louis, Clichy, and St Mandé); English factories (including Bacchus, and the Islington Glass Works); and factories in Venice, Bohemia/Silesia, and the USA.

Paperweight production slowed towards the end of the 19th century, and overall their quality tended to become poorer, but by 1900 there were still high quality paperweights being made in France, Belgium, and England. The 1930s saw the emergence of the influential Ysart family in Scotland, and Charles Kaziun in the USA, whose paperweights are now very sought-after. From the 1950s, Baccarat and Saint-Louis resumed production, Whitefriars were making paperweights in England, as were Vasart in Scotland. A studio movement of makers such as Stankard, Trabucco and Tarsitano, grew in the USA, whereas the UK saw factory development with Strathearn Glass, Caithness Glass, and Perthshire Paperweights. However, although a paperweight may be produced in a factory, it is not ’machine made’ on a production line; it will have been handmade by a craftsman. In the 20th century, factories in Murano and China have also been major producers of paperweights, but many factories and artists elsewhere have made or are making paperweights.

Classic period antique paperweights are especially sought-after, as are pieces by Paul Ysart, and certain modern artists. Accurate attribution of antiques is a matter for the specialist, and collectors need to be careful when purchasing a paperweight labeled as antique; it may be, but sellers do make mistakes. A modest amount of surface wear or slight damage is usually tolerated by collectors of antique paperweights.

When collecting modern paperweights, it is worth looking for those that carry some form of identifying mark, maybe a special Millefiori ’signature’ cane, or an engraved or etched signature. Signatures are often difficult to spot, eg when they are round the base rim. Quality and condition are very important: any bubbles or other flaws in the glass, or chips or other damage render the item of much less value to a collector. Whitefriars, Murano, Perthshire and Caithness made paperweights in fairly large numbers and varying qualities, and this is reflected in the prices. Some paperweights carry labels, but these can fall off, and be re-attached to the wrong item in a collection.

Paperweights are one of the more compact collectibles so you won’t need an unreasonable amount of space unless your collection grows very big indeed. Most of the paperweights in circulation are neither rare nor very valuable, and are affordable. There are some really beautiful examples out there, so good hunting!

With thanks for the above article from Alan Thornton of

On each of the pages within this section dedicated to Paperweights collectibles we have included links to live and current online auctions dealing in each theme. In addition, where known, we have added details of collector clubs, forums and websites. We wish you every success in tracking down the missing pieces of your discontinued Paperweights collection and hope you will become a regular visitor to Accumulations. Remember it’s an ever-changing scene so it is always worth a return visit!

If you are interested in a specific type or genre of Paperweights collectible, click on one of the following links:-


Please also check out the Paperweights Books, Related Dealers and Useful Resources listed on this page.

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