Fine glass paperweights are widely produced, collected, and appreciated as works of art and are often exhibited in museums. They are made entirely of glass by sole artisans, or factories, usually in limited editions. They first began to be produced, especially in France, in about 1845, but began a sustained revival and rise in popularity in the middle of the twentieth century.
Visible flaws, such as bubbles, striations and scratches will affect the value. Glass should not have a yellow or greenish cast, and there should be no unintentional asymmetries, or unevenly spaced or broken elements. Generally, larger weights are more costly and desirable. In a modern piece, an identifying mark and date are imperative.
Types of glass paperweight:
Collectors may specialize in one of several types of paperweights, but more often they wind up with an eclectic mix.
Millefiori (Italian-thousand flowers) paperweights contain thin cross-sections of cylindrical composite canes made from coloured rods and usually resemble little flowers, although they can be designed after anything, even letters and dates.
Lampwork paperweights have objects such as flowers, fruit, butterflies or animals constructed by shaping and working bits of coloured glass with a gas burner or torch and assembling them into attractive compositions, which are then incorporated into the dome. This is a form particularly favored by studio artists. The objects are often stylized, but may be highly realistic.
Sulfide paperweights have an encased cameo-like medallion or portrait plaque made from a special ceramic that is able to reproduce very fine detail. They often are produced to commemorate some person or event.
Swirl paperweights have opaque rods of two or three colours radiating like a pinwheel from a central millefiori floret. A similar style, the marbrie, is a millefiori containing weight that has several bands of color close to the surface that descend from the apex in a looping pattern to the bottom of the weight.
Today you can find a variety of paperweights at flea markets, or car boot sales, but if you are looking for really old or valuable paperweights to add to your collection then most of these would be found in private sales, auction houses, or through dealers.
Collecting glass paperweights can become an investment opportunity if you fancy. However if you do decide to invest in older or more collectable pieces then make sure you are dealing with reputable dealers. Remember to always do your homework first before starting any collection. Also, never forget the most important reason for collecting anything: first and foremost, collect what you like and will enjoy!