There were three premier French manufacturers of paperweights; Clichy, St. Louis and Baccarat, that dominated the short-lived Classic Period, from 1845 to 1855 in Europe (it lasted until about 1888 in the United States.) To find outstanding examples of their weights is getting more and more difficult. Additionally, most of the swirl paperweights are 2 colors. This is unusual not only for having three color swirls, but for the colors themselves. This is a wonderful piece for a serious collector.
It is 2 13/16" (7.2 cm) diameter.
It is in Very Good to Excellent Condition with less than the usual signs of display. No flaws or damage.
Provenance: L. H. Selman Glass Gallery.
It is interesting that glass paperweights were, beginning in 1845, a surprising commercial success during a time of economic depression in France and political uncertainty throughout Europe. Ostensibly made to hold down loose papers in drafty rooms, paperweights were actually more decorative than utilitarian.
Today, an estimated thirty thousand of these so-called "Classic Period" paperweights survive in collections around the world, according to the Art Institute of Chicago. As they periodically reappear in the marketplace, weights continue to set new auction records. To the uninitiated. it may be inconceivable that a palm-sized ball of glass can command such prices. The Clichy swirl, an adaptation of Venetian filigree that suggests the playful optics of a toy pinwheel, but with antecedents in ancient symbols for eternity and in the medieval sign of Saint Catherine's wheel. Although a version of the swirl was made in Bohemia, Clichy's exemplifies French paperweight expertise.
References: Glass Paperweights In The Art Institute Of Chicago by Geraldine J. Casper; The Encyclopedia of Glass Paperweights by Paul Hollister, Jr; ALL of the twice-yearly Paperweight Price Guide by L. H. Selman, Ltd, from 2001 through 2008.
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