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France

The classic period of paperweight production in France 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.

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Subcategories

  • Baccarat

    Since 1822 “Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat” has been the official name of a glasshouse first founded in 1764. The classic period of paperweight manufacture was 1845-1865. Opinions differ as to whether the factory continued to make paperweights in the closing years of the 19th century. Baccarat produced an amazing variety of complex canes and in ca. 1847 introduced Gridel silhouettes (animals, birds and figures). Signature and date canes are only found in millefiori paperweights. Apart from its wide range of millefiori weights, Baccarat was one of the foremost producers of lampwork flower paperweights.

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  • Baccarat/Dupont

    Baccarat/Dupont paperweights - both millefiori and lampwork - are believed to have been made ca. 1920/1930 by a M. Dupont in the Baccarat glassworks. Some of the canes were probably original Baccarat canes or were made using old Baccarat moulds; others he made himself. Some weights have spurious date canes such as 1815 or 1837. Although generally not of the same high standard as classic Baccarat weights, they are considered collectable due to the fact that they are usually well set-up and often display intricate canes.

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  • Clichy

    Clichy was the third of the principal French glassworks in the mid-19th century. Although only founded in 1842, it soon came to rival Baccarat and St. Louis, particularly in the production of paperweights. It produced a huge variety of complex millefiori canes, striking colour grounds and excellent lampwork. Clichy “roses” - including the rare turquoise, yellow, purple and green roses - became a kind of trademark for the factory. Few Clichy weights were signed; occasionally the letter “C” can be found in a cane, but the full word CLICHY is extremely rare. The take-over in 1885 signaled the demise of this great French glassworks.

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  • Grenelle

    The Grenelle glassworks - now generally accepted to be the "sixth" French factory - was an extremely short-lived venture. It was founded in 1851, probably by glassworkers who lost their jobs when the Choisy-le-Roi factory closed down. Current research indicates that paperweight production began ca. 1854/55 - most likely taking advantage of the expertise of the glassworkers who had been involved in millefiori production at Choisy-le-Roi. After 1856 there appear to be no more records of the firm.

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  • St. Louis

    St. Louis was originally founded in 1767 in Lorraine, an area with an ideal infrastructure for the production of high-quality lead crystal. One of the earliest St. Louis millefiori paperweights bears the date 1845. The most common date, however, is 1848 together with the initials SL. Sometimes, the SL signature appears on its own without a date. The factory made a wide range of millefiori weights including concentrics, mushrooms and carpet grounds - occasionally with silhouettes (dancing figures, camels, dogs etc) - and a variety of excellent lampwork pieces. Production seems to have ceased around 1865/70 as interest in paperweights in Europe declined.

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  • St. Mandé

    The St. Mandé glassworks - located in a small village outside Paris - is now generally considered to be the “fifth” mid-19th century French factory. Although it had a relatively short existence from ca. 1841 to 1857, the glassworkers created an amazing variety of millefiori canes. The most common designs were closepacks, spaced and close concentrics, mushrooms and sulphides. Occasionally an “StM” signature cane can be found. So far, no dated weights have been identified but a couple of silhouettes - for instance a black bird - have been recorded. To add confusion to attribution, St. Mandé - like Clichy - was fond of using different types of roses!

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