Antique Paperweights

The history of paperweights had its beginnings in the early 1840s...probably first in Silesia (in Karlsthal) and then in Venice. They were first displayed at the Exhibition of Austrian Industry in Vienna in 1845, and within no time, these glass artifacts were being produced by glasshouses in Bohemia, France, England and - a few years later - in the United States of America. Paperweights were also made in the 19th Century - on a much smaller scale - in Thuringia (in Germany), Belgium and Russia.

 Click on one of the countries/regions below - or in the left-hand column - for images and details


  • France

    The classic period of French paperweight production is considered to be ca. 1845 to 1865, after which their popularity steadily declined, although they continued to be produced at a couple of glasshouses into the 1880s. The main French producers were the big 3: Baccarat, Clichy and St. Louis. Other early producers were St. Mandé and Grenelle. Later on - in the 1870s - Pantin produced a small number of weights.

    Click below - or on the glasshouse in the left-hand column - for images and details

  • England

    In England, two companies are known to have produced paperweights in the 19th Century: George Bacchus & Son and the Islington Glassworks, both in Birmingham. But some fine English paperweights cannot be attributed to either company, so other glasshouses must also have been producing millefiori canes. Unfortunately, it has not proved possible to identify them conclusively and, currently, they are grouped under the heading “Old English” - which covers late 19th Century paperweights right up to the 1920/30s.

    Click on one of the two groups below - or in the left-hand column - for images and more information

  • Bohemia/Silesia

    Recent research findings on classic 19th Century Bohemian/Silesian paperweights show that the Josephinenhütte in Silesia and the Harrach glassworks in Bohemia were the main producers. (The very first paperweights were probably made in the early 1840s in Carlsthal, Silesia). There is also the group of Bussolin weights and those produced by Friedrich Egermann in North Bohemia. Date canes are rare; the best known is the “j 1848”, but there is another one: 1848 in blue numerals on a white plaque. Common designs are “scattereds” on muslin and crowns, although Harrach produced concentrics and overlays. Rose canes and silhouettes appear frequently.
    production included millefiori on mica grounds, 3D sulphides, and multi-faceted, stylized flower weights. (see under Germany)

    Click on an image for details, sizes & enlarged views

  • America

    Production of American paperweights in the classic period in the 19th Century, got underway in the early 1850s, a few years after they had become "fashionable" in Europe.  Initially, the designs tended to copy imported styles.  However within a few years, Boston & Sandwich (B&S), the New England Glass Co. (NEGC) - and, later, during the 1860s - Gillinder, were creating some fine, highly-collectable weights. The rare - and highly sought after - paperweights attributed to the Mount Washington Glass Works are believed to have been produced in the 1880/90s 

    Click on the groups below - or on the individual glassworks in the left-hand column - for images and details

  • Germany

    In mid to late 19th Century Germany, the main areas of glass production were Silesia, Thuringia and the Bavarian Forest. Numerous glassworks produced post-classic paperweights from ca. 1875 into the 20th century. Thuringian paperweights tend to have relatively simple canes with a predominance of bright colours (turquoise & orange-yellow). Silesian post-classic paperweights are generally of a better quality, often set on latticinio baskets. German paperweights only appear infrequently on the market, so it must be assumed that paperweight production was a sideline for the glasshouses or that they were made by glassworkers after hours.
    For classic Silesian paperweights (Josephinenhütte / Josephine Glassworks) see the category: Bohemia/Silesia.

    Click on an image for details, sizes & enlarged views

  • Venice

    Venetian paperweights were probably first produced on Murano around 1843 at a time when Venice was still part of the Austrian Empire. The first examples were seen in 1845, when Pietro Bigaglia exhibited paperweights - and other glassware - at the Exhibition of Austrian Industry in Vienna. Bigaglia’s weights incorporated millefiori, silhouettes and figure portraits made by Giovanni Battista Franchini and later, his son, Giacomo. The Franchini family also made paperweights - mainly scrambleds. Apart from “GBF” other initials have also been found, although it has not proved possible to determine who these makers were.
    19th Century paperweights are usually referred to as Venetian. The term Murano is generally applied to later, 20th Century, paperweights.

    Click on an image for details, sizes & enlarged views

  • Miscellaneous
    The Antique Miscellaneous section includes paperweights
    • which rarely appear on the market
    • for which there is no dedicated category
    • which cannot be attributed with any certainty to a particular glassworks or country
    Click on an image for details, sizes & enlarged views