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History of millefiori

Another major grouping of paperweights is the use of millefiori canes in the construction. Millefiori-decorated objects have been created intermittently from the time of ancient Mesopotamia to the present day. Bowls of fused millefiori canes are known to have been made in ancient Rome and Alexandria, and there are a few references to examples of millefiori work during the Renaissance. By the eighteenth century, however, the technical knowledge for the manufacture of millefiori was lost. It was not until the nineteenth century that a revival of the technique appeared. By the end of the 1830s, millefiori were manufactured successfully in Silesia-Bohemia. Within two or three years of its rediscovery, factories in Venice, England, and France were also producing quantities of millefiori canes.

 
 

Process of Manufacture

Cut from long, thin glass rods, millefiori canes were prepared in the following manner: The glassworker took a gather of molten glass on a pontil, or long iron rod, and rolled it back and forth on a marver, or flat surface, until it formed a solid cylinder. The cylinder was then pressed into a die-cut mold that had a geometric shape or the outline of a specific animal or figure. The piece was further embellished by dipping on additional layers of varying colors of glass. As each layer was added, it was rolled onto the ever-growing cylinder or pressed into increasingly larger molds to vary the cane’s ultimate design.

 

 

The finished cylinder of glass, approximately six inches long and three inches in diameter, was reheated until pliant.  The pulled apart, stretching the yielding cylinder pencil-thin. The stretched cooled cane was then sliced into hundreds of little discs, each an exact miniaturization of the original design. For more complex designs, lengths of the stretched canes were cut into six-inch pieces, bundled in a geometric pattern, heated until fused together, stretched pencil-thin, and slices again. In this manner, glassworkers were able to produce unlimited millefiori cane designs from a limited selection of molds.

 

Once a quantity of millefiori canes was produced, they were combined into a variety of patterns limited only by the ingenuity of the artisan. To create a paperweight, a design of canes was arranged in a metal ring, and a gather of molten glass on the end of a pontil rod was brought down upon the design. The canes adhered to the molten glass. The rod was repeatedly dipped in glass until an adequately thick lens was produced over the millefiori design. While still plastic, the glass was blocked and shaped. Slightly cooled to a stable state, it was broken off the pontil rod and placed in an annealing oven to cool slowly.

Cane types
There are specific kinds of canes formed by the glassmakers. They include, in addition to the myriad types of flower-like patterns, the simplest rod canes, star canes, cog canes (shaped liked the cogs of a gear wheel), Clichy Rose cane, and sillouette canes, which contain a figure of an animal, person, or plant, a date or maker’s mark.

Millefiori patterns in paperweights
Millefiori weights are categorized into types and named according to the configuration of the canes.

    

  • Concentric millefiori weights may be closely positioned or spaced in rings around a center cane.  This Perthshire weight has twisted glass rods that divide the millefiori into sections that surround a concentric center.

 

    

  • Close Millefiori weights contain a small forest of canes thrusting up from the base side by side with little space between them.  This is a faceted 1978 Whitfriars Millefiori PW.  Enlarge the photos to see the signature cane. It is always exciting to find a paperweight with a cane that has the signature of the maker and the date.  The Whitefriar signature cane is a monk.  That is because the Whitefriar factory is an old monastery.

 

    

Concentric millefiori weights may be closely positioned or spaced in rings around a center cane.  This is a nice example of a bee hive faceted weight by Whitefriar.

            

  • Pattern millefiori weights feature canes that are arranged in patterns such as lines, flower-like forms, or symmetrical rings. This is a Strathearn from Scotland.  It has a “floater” a piece that separated from the glass canes into debris (in this case a tiny black ball) and then floated up into the encasement of the PW.  This reduces the value of the weight unless a collector is looking for the non-perfect weights.

 

    

  • Pattern Millefiori weights feature canes that are arranged in patterns such as lines, flower-like forms, or symmetrical rings. A colorful PMCD, Peter McDougall PW from Crief Scotland. Signature cane is in the base.

 

         

  • Pattern millefiori weights feature canes that are arranged in patterns such as lines, flower-like forms, or symmetrical rings. This is a Caithness Scotland PW.

 

    

  • Scrambeled Millefiori weights feature what looks like a stirred mixture of different canes. Sometimes called End of Day because the glassmaker uses whatever is at hand at the end of the workday to produce a piece like this one. Assorted Millefiori Including Thistle Cane, Millefiori Butterfly, Star Canes, Complex Canes, Loveheart Cane, Cockerel Silhouette, Clichy Roses, Candy Twirls all Set On A Blue/Purple Background

 

         

  • Carpet Ground Millefiori weights look like a carpet of small identical ( often star or rod) canes interspersed with larger spaced millefiori canes.  Not a great example but a nice John Deacons ribbon paperweight.

 

         

  • Chequers Millefiori weights get their name from the filigree twists that act as separators among the space canes. A very nice 1982 Perthshire with signature cane in center. This paperweight also has some nice silhouette canes on a filigree lace bed.

 

    

WOW! End of day?  Not really. This is a scrambled weight where the artist has messed with the canes by heating them, pulling them and added all kinds of glass delights.  Made by an artist in Pitsburgh PA by the name of James Alloway.  Titled  “Psychedelic”.

  • Garland millefiori weights contain canes arranged in loops, lobes, C-scrolls, or circlets.
  • Mushroom millefiori weights are those containing a central upright mushroom-shaped cluster of millefiori canes in a clear body, with or without overlays and printies.
  • Overlays consist of a coating of colored opaque or translucent glass on the surface of a (Usually millefiori) weight, through which are cut windows called printies.
  • Single cane millefiori weights contain just one center patterned canes on a textured background.

 

I currently do not have weights of the above so no photos.  As I get PW’s I will add new examples of the millefiori weights.  If you would like to see more of the PW’s I do have visit my eBay store “Kelekchens”.  You can do that by putting your cursor on my assistant “the duck” and press enter. 

Thats it for today.  Happy collecting and remember “The best is yet to come”!

 
 

 

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 Why do people Collect?

 You may as well ask why do people fall in love?  The reasons are irrational, the motives are mixed and the original impulse is often discolored or betrayed.  I started collecting paperweights when I was in my 20s.  But like most of my collectibles I didn’t really focus on building a collection….it just happened.  When asked, as we often are, what do you want for your birthday, Christmas etc. I would tell friends and family, well I do collect paperweights.  I suppose that is why I have such an eclectic mix of glass paperweights.

Over the last five months I have covered a fairly large range of subjects about collecting, collectors and the many collectibles that I have, in this blog.  How to research collectibles and the joy of discovering the story behind your collectible.  The stories about the makers and collectors of paperweights are rich and sometimes mysterious.  That makes for an interesting and exciting hobby to collect these art objects.

Over the next few weeks or months, (however long it takes me) I will try to tell you about paperweights, who makes them, who collects them and why.  It should be fun so follow along and check back often as I buy, sell, trade and build my collection.

Essence of paperweights

Decorative glass paperweights fit easily into the hand and are actually meant to be handled and viewed from various directions through the dome, which acts like a lens to make the design change in its appearance with its movements in an attractive way. A magnifying glass is often used to gain appreciation of the fine detail of the work within.

They have a flat or slightly concave base on which they stably rest, and a domed top, which may be faceted or cut. The glass is usually lead glass. The dome may be coated with one or more thin layers of colored glass, and have windows cut through it to reveal the interior motif. The exact shape or profile of the dome varies somewhat from one artist or factory to another, but in fine examples will be tuned to the subject within to show it off to best advantage. The base may be frosted, but is more often polished. They may also be cut in one of several variations. Star-cut bases have a multi-pointed star, while a diamond cut base has grooves cut in a criss-cross pattern. A footed weight has a flange in the base.

The ground on which the inner parts rest may be clear or colored, made of unfused sand, or resemble lace (latticinio).

Paperweights are made by sole artisans, and in factories where many artists and technicians collaborate. Both may produce inexpensive as well as “collector” weights. Workmanship, design, rarity, and condition determine the value of a paperweight. They range in price from a few dollars, to a record $258,500 once paid for an antique French weight. Antique weights, of which perhaps 10,000 or so survive (mostly in museums), generally appreciate steadily in value.

Visible flaws, such as bubbles, striations and scratches 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.

History of the paperweight

Antique paperweights were made in the “classic” years between 1845 and 1860 primarily in three French factories named Baccarat, St. Louis, and Clichy. They made between fifteen and twenty five thousand weights in the classic period. Pantin, also a French glass company is known to a lessor degree but should be added as a great paperweight company of the period.  Weights (mainly of lesser quality) were also made in the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere, though Bacchus (UK) and New England Glass Company (USA) produced some that equaled the best of the French. Modern weights have been made from about 1950 to the present.

In the U.S., Charles Kaziun started in 1940 to produce buttons, paperweights, inkwells and other bottles, using lamp-work of elegant simplicity. In Scotland, the pioneering work of Paul Ysart from the 1930s onward preceded a new generation of artists such as William Manson, Peter McDougall, Peter Holmes and John Deacons. A further impetus to reviving interest in paperweights was the publication of Evangiline Bergstrom’s book, Old Glass Paperweights, the first of a new genre. NOTE:  I only put photos of items I own or have owned in my blog, so anytime you see a photo you know it is part of my collection.  I don’t use anyone’s photos but my own.

    

Charles Kaziun Jr.,  “Crimped Rose” Perfume Bottle.  An older piece marked with blue “K” in a white cane with a blue border and then a yellow flowered border.  The mark is under the flower. (Recently sold to a collector in Dallas, TX.)

    

Charles Kaziun Jr. Miniature Pedestal paperweight, Spider Lily on Gold flecked background (one of his most popular peices) marked with his characteristic 14 karat gold “K” signature on the bottom side of the ball of the weight.  Currently being sold on eBay for $435.00.  Actual retail value listed in price guide is $1400.00.

A number of small studios appeared in the middle 20th century, particularly in the US. These may have several to some dozens of workers with various levels of skill cooperating to produce their own distinctive “line”. Notable examples are Lundberg Studios, Orient and Flume, Correia Art Glass, Lotton, and Parabelle Glass. In later blogs I will talk about and show photos of my collection of all of these studios.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, artists such as Paul Stankard, his former assistant, Jim D’Onofrio, Chris Buzzini, Delmo and daughter Debbie Tarsitano, Victor Trabucco and sons, Gordon Smith, Rick Ayotte and his daughter Melissa, and the father and son team of Bob and Ray Banford, began breaking new ground and were able to produce fine paperweights rivaling anything produced in the classic period.

Types of glass paperweights

Collectors may specialize in one of several types of paperweights, but more often they wind up with an eclectic mix.

Millefiori paperweights contain thin cross-sections of cylindrical composite canes made from colored rods and usually resemble little flowers, although they can be designed after anything, even letters and dates. These are usually made in a factory setting. The exist in many variations such as scattered, patterned, close concentric or carpet ground. Sometimes the canes are formed into a sort of upright tuft shaped like a mushroom that is incased in the dome.

Lampwork paperweights have objects such as flowers, fruit, butterflies or animals constructed by shaping and working bits of colored 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. Although still produced today their heyday was before the classic period.

Swirl paperweights have opaque rods of two or three colors 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.

Another variation is the Crown weight. It has twisted ribbons, alternately colored and lacy white, which radiate from the crown from a central millefiori floret down to converge again at the base. This was first devised in the Saint Louis factory and remains popular today.

Miniature weights have a diameter of less than two inches or so, and magnums have a diameter greater than about 3.25 inches.

California-style paperweights are made by “painting” the surface of the dome with colored molten glass (torchwork), and manipulated with picks or other tools. They may also be sprayed while hot with various metallic salts to achieve an iridescent look.

Victorian portrait and advertising paperweights were dome glass paperweights first made in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania using a process patented in 1882 by William H. Maxwell. The portrait paperweights contained pictures of ordinary people reproduced on a milk glass disk and encased within clear glass. This same process was also used to produce paperweights with the owner’s name encased or an advertisement of a business or product. Pittsburgher Albert A. Graeser, patented a different process for making advertising paperweights in 1892. The Graeser process involved sealing an image to the underside of a rectangular glass blank using a milkglass or enamellike glaze. Many paperweights of the late 1800s are marked either J. N. Abrams or Barnes and Abrams and may list either the 1882 Maxwell or 1892 Graeser patent date. It has been theorized that Barnes and Abrams did not actually manufacture advertising paperweights for their customers, but instead subcontracted the actual manufacturing task out to Pittsburgh area glasshouses. The Paperweight Collectors Association Annual Bulletins published for 2000, 2001 and 2002 describe these in detail.

Bohemian paperweights were particularly popular in Victorian times. Large engraved or cut hollow spheres of ruby glass were a common form.

Museum collections

Notable displays of paperweight collections can be seen in a number of museums. The Wheaton Village museum in Millville, NJ has many examples of American paperweights. The Bergstrom-Mahler museum in Neenah, Wisconsin contains a particularly fine collection of representative paperweights. The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY also has an exceptional collection of fine paperweights.

Paperweight collectors

There are many paperweight collectors worldwide. Several collectors associations hold national or regional conventions, and sponsor activities such as tours, lectures, and auctions. Famous collectors include such literary figures as Collete, Oscar Wilde and Truman Capote. Princess Eugenie, Napoleon III’s wife, the wife of Mexico’s Emporer Maximillion and King Farouk were also avid collectors.

Paperweights just have to be the most interesting items I collect. You can see most of my collection being sold on eBay by putting your cursor on My Assistant “the duck” and press enter to go to my eBay store, Kelekchens.  So…follow along with me as I describe my collection and the stories behind it all.  Until next time Happy Collecting and remember “the best is yet to come”.

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Zino Davidoff was born on March 11, 1906 in Kiev, Russian Empire, present-day Ukraine. He was the eldest of four children born to tobacco merchant, Henri Davidoff. Even in his own autobiographical writings, the facts on Zino’s youth are a bit hazy, as he was quite young during this time and could only piece together some stories of his youth. His parents were either cigar merchants or cigarette manufacturers in Kiev. Fleeing the political turmoil and anti-Semitism prevalent in Russia, his parents left some of their family behind and emigrated to Geneva, Switzerland in 1911 for a better life and opened their own Tobacconist shop in 1912. Finishing school in 1924, he went to Latin America to learn about the tobacco trade, spending time in such places as Argentina, Brazil, and finally Cuba where he spent two years working on a plantation and first encountered Cuban cigars.

Returning to Switzerland around 1930, he took over his parents’ shop. What had originally been a modest tobacco shop grew into a rich business during and after WW II. Neutral Switzerland was spared much of the havoc wreaked elsewhere in Europe and became a haven for wealthy tobacco customers. Zino was particularly successful in marketing the Hoyo de Monterrey Châteaux Series of Cuban cigars created for Zurich cigar distributor A Durr Co., in the 1940s and named after great Bordeaux wines.  Around this time, Zino is also credited by many as having invented the first desktop cigar humidor, in order to preserve cigars at the same conditions of humidity and temperature under which they were rolled in Havana. Davidoff also had success writing several books on cigar smoking and Cuban cigar brands.

In 1970, Zino sold his small but highly successful tobacco shop in Geneva to the Max Oettinger Group. Zino stayed on as Davidoff’s ambassador until his death in 1994 at the age of 87. He was survived by his wife and daughter, who remained in Switzerland and by his siblings that had since moved to other parts of the world, mainly North America. Till his last moments, Zino an avid family man, sought out to find his lost family history back in the Soviet Union and then the emerging independent states of Russia and Ukraine. Unfortunately, many historical documents had been lost and so had his search. Not much information exists on their whereabouts, but through saved notes by Zino, it has been speculated that many had defected to North America in the early to mid 70’s, some under new identities and family names.

A tobacconist is an expert dealer in tobacco in various forms and the related accoutrements. Such accoutrements include pipes, lighters, matches, pipe cleaners, pipe tampers, ashtrays, humidors and more. Books and magazines, especially ones having to do with tobacco are commonly offered. Items irrelevant to tobacco such as puzzles, games, figurines, hip flasks, and candy are sometimes sold. A tobacconist shop is traditionally represented by a wooden Indian positioned nearby.

Although I am not really a tobacconist, I have collected many tobacciana collectibles that are offered for sale at my eBay store “Kelekchens”.  You won’t see a wooden Indian but here are a few vintage and antique humidors:

                        

Noritake and Nippon Porcelain Humidors ca. early 19oo’s.

   

Marzi & Remy Porcelain Humidor – Germany ca. 1940’s

    

Metal Humidors – Adam Verde and a Boston Rumidor ca. 1940’s to 1950’s

                   

Glass Humidors – Heisey glass, polychrome mesh (1920’s Art Deco), EAPG  and  Victorian Humidors.

Hand thrown, stone crock humidor with pipe rest lid.

Depression glass, Moongleam, cigarette humidor.

And my favorite:

                   

A stunning humidor with beautiful glass.  Double click on the photos to see better details.

You can see these and many more from my collection.  Place your cursor on my assistant “the Duck” and click to go to my eBay store Kelekchens. Open tobacciana and your there.

Until next time Happy Collecting and remember “the best is yet to come!”

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Smoking has been accepted into culture, in various art forms, and has developed many distinct, and often conflicting or mutually exclusive, meanings depending on time, place and the practitioners of smoking. Pipe smoking, until recently one of the most common forms of smoking, is today often associated with solemn contemplation, old age and is often considered quaint and archaic. Cigarette smoking, which did not begin to become widespread until the late 19th century, has more associations of modernity and the faster pace of the industrialized world. Cigars have been, and still are, associated with masculinity, power and is an iconic image associated with the stereotypical capitalist. Smoking in public during the Victorian age was something reserved for men and when done by women was associated with promiscuity. In Japan during the Edo period, prostitutes and their clients would often approach one another under the guise of offering a smoke and the same was true for 19th century EuropeArt.

The earliest depictions of smoking can be found on Classical Mayan pottery from around the 9th century. The art was primarily religious in nature and depicted deities or rulers smoking early forms of cigarettes.  Soon after smoking was introduced outside of the Americas it began appearing in painting in Europe and Asia. The painters of the Dutch Golden Age were among the first to paint portraits of people smoking and still lifes of pipes and tobacco. For southern European painters of the 17th century, a pipe was much too modern to include in the preferred motifs inspired by mythology from Greek and Roman antiquity. At first smoking was considered lowly and was associated with peasants.  Many early paintings were of scenes set in taverns or brothels. Later, as the Dutch Republic rose to considerable power and wealth, smoking became more common amongst the affluent and portraits of elegant gentlemen tastefully raising a pipe appeared. Smoking represented pleasure, transience and the briefness of earthly life as it, quite literally, went up in smoke. Smoking was also associated with representations of both the sense of smell and that of taste.

In the 18th century smoking became far more sparse in painting as the elegant practice of taking snuff became popular. Smoking a pipe was again relegated to portraits of lowly commoners and country folk and the refined sniffing of shredded tobacco followed by sneezing was rare in art. When smoking appeared it was often in the exotic portraits influenced by Orientalism. Many proponents of post-colonial theory controversially believe this portrayal was a means of projecting an image of European superiority over its colonies and a perception of the male dominance of a feminized Orient.  They believe the theme of the exotic and alien “Other” escalated in the 19th century, fueled by the rise in popularity of ethnology during the Enlightenment.

In the 19th century smoking was common as a symbol of simple pleasures; the pipe smoking “noble savage”, solemn contemplation by Classical Roman ruins, scenes of an artists becoming one with nature while slowly toking a pipe. The newly empowered middle class also found a new dimension of smoking as a harmless pleasure enjoyed in smoking saloons and libraries. Smoking a cigarette or a cigar would also become associated with the bohemian, someone who shunned the conservative middle class values and displayed his contempts for conservatism. But this was a pleasure that was to be confined to a male world; women smokers were associated with prostitution and was not considered an activity in which proper ladies should involve themselves.  It was not until the turn of the century that smoking women would appear in paintings and photos, giving a chic and charming impression. Impressionists like Vincent Van Gogh, who was a pipe smoker himself, would also begin to associate smoking with gloom and fin-du-siècle fatalism.

While the symbolism of the cigarette, pipe and cigar respectively were consolidated in the late 19th century, it was not until the 20th century that artists began to use it fully; a pipe would stand for thoughtfulness and calm; the cigarette symbolized modernity, strength and youth, but also nervous anxiety; the cigar was a sign of authority, wealth and power. The decades following World War II, during the apex of smoking when the practice had still not come under fire by the growing anti-smoking movement, a cigarette casually tucked between the lips represented the young rebel, epitomized in actors like Marlon Brando and James Dean or mainstays of advertising like the Marlboro Man. It was not until the 1970s when the negative aspects of smoking began to appear; the unhealthy lower-class loser, reeking of cigarette smoke and lack of motivation and drive, especially in art inspired or commissioned by anti-smoking campaigns.  This may have been due largely to the Aquarius generation where flower power and Peace culminated in smoking cannibus. A serious collector of tobacciana can build a tremendous collection around the 1970’s era drug culture.  It could be called the “Hippie” collection. Ha ha.

Here are some of the ash rescepticles that I have collected for their beautiful art form.  Most are Asian, Hand Painted, Nippon or Noritake.

                   

                   

              

Collection of Nippon ashtrays, all hand-painted prior to 1921.

 

                   

         

Hand Painted enamel Moriage ashtrays, made in Japan, ca. 1930s – 1940s.

 

                        

Collection of Lusreware ashtrays, Made in Japan, ca. 1940s – 1950s

              

Noritake, Hand painted and Made in Japan after 1921.

 

Glass and Brass, Roaring 20s ahstray and humidor.

 

No “butts” about it this is a good sized collection of Japanese ashtrays. All are being sold on eBay at my store “Kelekchens” or you can contact me through this post by entering your request under comments. Just leave your request and a way for me to contact you .  To see these items in my store and other collectibles put your cursor on my assistant “the duck” and press enter.  Until next time happy collecting and remember “the best is yet to come”.

 

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Numerous types of fine glass were made by A. H. Heisey & Co. , Newark, Ohio from 1895.  The company’s trademark, an H enclosed within a diamond, has become known to most glass collectors. The company’s name and molds were acquired by Imperial Glass Co., Bellaire, Ohio, in 1958, and some pieces have been reissued.  Below are a few pieces I have acquired and some sold.

         

All of the above pieces are listed in my eBay store “Kelekchens”

 

    

A few pieces that recently sold! 

Heisey glass is very collectible.  The green, or what is called Moongleam is especially desirable among collectors.  So be sure to look at the glass items when out and about visiting your local garage sales or flea markets.  This glass is usually fairly easy to find and not everybody knows its true value.

Until next time Happy Collecting and remember “the best is yet to come”.

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