Very Unusual Large Antique Pinchbeck Paperweight, Gold Color With Victorian Scene, c 1850

This is a marvelous example of a large Pinchbeck paperweight, measuring 3 and 1/8 diameter (7.8 cm) and in Very Good Condition. Hard to photograph, but wonderful to marvel at and hold.

The following is from The Encyclopedia of Glass Paperweights, by Paul Hollister, Jr:

As a concept, and in their materials and construction, Pinchbecks stand apart from the mainstream of paperweights. Christopher Pinchbeck (1670-1732) was a well-known watch and musical clock-maker of London, who lived for a time in St.George's Court (now Albion Place off St. John's Lane) and then moved to Fleet Street. He was the inventor of an alloy simulating gold that was reported to consist of 93 parts copper and 18 parts zinc. The alloy was used for watch cases, jewelry, and trinkets, hence the use of the term "pinchbeck" to denote flashy imitation jewelry or, as Webster puts it, "something that is counterfeit or spurious." Christopher Pinchbeck had two sons, Christopher, a clockmaker, and Edward (1713-66) who, because of imitations of this alloy, issue the warning that he "did not dispose of one grain of his curious metal, which so nearly resembles gold in colour, smell and ductility, to any person whatever."

In the best piece written on the subject Mrs. Bergstrom says that Pinchbeck paperweights were very popular about 1850, a date that quite obviously excludes any possibility of such paperweights having been made by Christopher Pinchbeck or his son. The term "Pinchbeck Paperweight" refers loosely to any paperweight whose large design in relief is made of a metal leaf incorporating or giving the effect of incorporating some of the Pinchbeck copper-zinc alloy, which design is set in a pewter or marble base, screwed (in the case of the pewter) or cemented (in the case of the marble) to a flat round magnifying glass lens. the lens projecting beyond the base. Other bases are made of copper, tin, alabaster, even cardboard, and all metal ones may be covered with velvet or leather. The large alloy relief, which fills the entire ground surface of the weight, was probably pressed and burnished into a female mold made from the original relief design. As Mrs. Bergstrom points out, the skills of jeweler, chaser, and glassmaker are all required here, and it is unlikely that a Pinchbeck paperweight was the work of one artisan or even one factory. The fine workmanship and remarkable detail of the subjects, together with the mysterious effect created by the magnifying lens, make these weights at least as interesting and successful decorative objects as the sulfides, though the advantage of the sulphide from our standpoint is that it is completely encased in glass in such a way as to create the illusion of metal where none exists.

Subject matter covers a wide variety of scenes and portraits, including Queen Victoria (the relief is painted). Wellington, a mountain village, a cavalier and the hunt, ladies on horseback, a carousing scene, Dilrnud riding an ox attended by satyrs, Leda and the Swan legend (signed "Thev"). the finding of Moses, the Nativity, a music lesson, and a number of other religious, domestic, and outdoor scenes, some of them probably copied from paintings or relief sculpture. Duplicates are known, especially the Moses and Wellington.

Aside from a weight signed "G & S Lobmeyer, Wien" which shows a lion about to pounce on two horses drinking from a pool, Pinchbeck weights have been attributed to no particular factory and were probably made on the Continent (where the Pinchbeck alloy jewelry was popular) as well as in England. In the basic form of a base affixed to a magnifying glass top there exists several paperweights in which the subject is painted on an opaque white glass ground, the form relates them to Pinchbeck while the painting style relates them to miniature painting. Three large weights with painted putti on metal bases are known, and there is one on an alabaster base showing a portrait of a lady in an English turbaned costume that dates almost precisely to 1847,

Item ID: A4078

$4,500 $2,400 USD REDUCED

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