Identifying Nineteenth Century Saint Louis Paperweights
By Mary Haberstroh
The company known as the Cristalleries de Saint Louis began in 1767 in the Vosges Mountains of France and started making paperweights in 1820. King Louis XIV patronized the glass making company. Saint Louis not only used lampwork glass in the designs but also used millefiori canes, frequently combining canes, latticinio work, and lampwork in one paperweight. Only three dates are known to be marked on paperweights: 1845, 1848, and 1849. Each paperweight is marked SL to designate the maker. Pale and light colors were primarily used in Saint Louis paperweights. The backgrounds of the paperweights were designed to look like cushions with a central design, like flowers or fruit, appear to be laying on the background. Backgrounds consisted of latticinio work or narrow rods of glass creating swirls. The basic identifiers of Saint Louis paperweights are:
Plaited narrow canes of contrasting colors.
Stars in white, or white with another color in the center.
Two narrow canes twisted to form a bigger cane.
Plaited canes commonly used in backgrounds.
Arrow canes similar in style to Baccarat arrows.
Canes with silhouettes, also similar in style to Baccarat.
Dancing figures silhouette canes.
Saint Louis paperweights also came out with a paperweight shape referred to as a “hand cooler”, resembling an egg which was either smooth, or faceted. The top was either flat or faceted but the bottom was flat. These hand coolers were also made of combinations of twist ribbons, lampwork glass, and millefiori canes. Mushroom style paperweights are dated SL 1848 with the initials in black, the 1 and 4 in black, and the 8's in red. As with other dates on the Saint Louis paperweights, these are located on the side of the paperweight in the design, never in the middle.
Some descriptions of these paperweights:
A large paperweight with a pink flower in lampwork has three green leaves of lampwork glass. The flower is set against a textured glass cushion with a very fine latticinio design in white on the background.
Another paperweight has a white chamomile flower with green lampwork leaves in the center laying on a pink latticinio backgrounds.
A floral paperweight with a white latticinio background has a blue dahlia in the foreground, with green leaves. The flower is in lampwork.
A paperweight with a clear background has a pink dahlia of lampwork glass and a millefiori star cane in the center of the flower. The entire flower blossom spans the base of the paperweight with only a very small clear glass part showing as the border. The flower has three green leaves situated below the dahlia.
A millefiori paperweight with a round blue center, surrounded by white with a brown exterior, form a tightly packed carpet. Each cane is fluted at the edges. In the foreground are five silhouette canes of animals and a pair of dancers. A rare paperweight from Saint Louis.
Another paperweight with a circle garland of flowers has pansies connected on a continuous stem with green leaves. The flowers and stems are of lampwork against a clear background.
A flat paperweight has a millefiori cane floral bouquet in the center with four green lampwork leaves. The background of the paperweight is aquamarine. There are two circles of canes bordering the base edge of the paperweight. The inside circle is made up of dark pink and white canes and the outer circle has green canes with white, pink and blue centers.
A large faceted paperweight has an amber colored base with a bouquet of millefiori canes as flowers. Five green leaves complete the bouquet. There are eight facets that form the base of the paperweight.
Another large millefiori paperweight has nine concentric circles with a six pointed star in the center. The second, third, and fifth row has canes with fluted edges. The eighth row has the largest canes while the ninth row has the second largest canes.
One paperweight has canes creating the outlines of six paisley shaped loops. In the center of the loops is a single large cane, multicolored. The background is an opaque turquoise blue.
Another paperweight with outline shapes of canes has loops in diamond shapes, six in number. Two cane styles alternate in each loop. The background is apple green in color. The big center cane is coral and pink. The canes in the loops are pink and white in one cane, and pink, blue, and white in the other cane.
A pedestal type paperweight has six concentric circles of canes set in a DuBarry pink basket shape. Both floral and star canes are used in this paperweight.
Another pedestal paperweight is marked SL 1848 and has the pedestal base made of white latticinio. This paperweight has a large round center of smaller cut canes and six concentric circles surrounding the center.
Some price values for nineteenth century Saint Louis paperweights:
A two inch sized paperweight dated 1845 with five concentric circles in pink and white, green and white, blue and white star shaped canes is valued at about a thousand dollars.
A crown style paperweight with red and green twists and white latticinio twists alternating is worth about $3,500.
A Saint Louis scramble paperweight with candy like canes and latticinio ribbon twists is worth $1,000.
A faceted paperweight with concentric millefiori circles in a mushroom shape with canes of pink and white, green and white, with a blue flower center is worth about $4,500.
About the Author:
Mary Haberstroh lives in Tucson, Arizona and she is a collector of millefiori paperweights. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org