French Origins of Decorative Glass Paperweights

Classic glass paperweights were originally popular between 1845 and 1860 in central France. The French glass factories of Baccarat, Saint-Louis and Clichy produced approximately 25,000 weights during this time, but they quickly lost popularity as handwriting letters became more and more of a novelty.  The first-ever World’s Fair in 1851 London showcased glass paperweights; the exhibit drew crowds so large that the fair eventually had to ration viewing time.


American Independent Studio Glassblowing Movement

It wasn’t until the mid-1900s that paperweights re-emerged as a popular art form when Charles Kaziun, Jr., began to produce glass buttons, paperweights, inkwells, bottles and elegant lampwork. Eventually, the independent studio glass blowing community was born as several U.S.-based studios emerged, creating distinctive lines of work. Some of the more notable studios included Orient and Flume, Correia Art Glass, St. Clair Glass (now called The House of Glass), Parabelle Glass and Lundberg Studios.

Most of the floral paperweights from the mid-20th century featured unrealistic cartoonish flowers. Eventually,Paul Stankard, considered the father of the modern glass paperweight, emerged with his former assistant, Jim D’Onofrio, to create exceptional floral glass paperweights so realistic that the public often believed that they had actually encased live flowers within the orbs.

Privileged Paperweight Collectors Through Time

Today you’ll find an enthusiastic community of glass paperweight collectors around the globe, several of whom host national or regional conventions, tours lectures and auctions. Some of their more famous predecessors include French writer Colette; Irish author Oscar Wilde; American writer-actor Truman Capote; Napoleon III’s wife, Empress Eugenie; Maximilian I of Mexico’s wife, Empress Carlota; and Farouk, King of Egypt.

Midwestern real estate mogul, Arthur Rubloff, called “the man who changed the face of Chicago,” may very well be considered the most famous collector of paperweights. Rubloff’s collection is considered the finest in the world and can be seen at The Art Institute of Chicago. Today, some of the most sought-after paperweights sell at prices above $300,000.

Ayotte Paperweights | L.H. Selman Glass


Globally acclaimed for his unbelievably lifelike interpretations of small creatures and birds in their natural habitats, glass artisan Rick Ayotte has spent a lifetime studying and observing nature to create little worlds encased in glass.

Beginnings | Rick Ayotte

Born in New Hampshire, Ayotte officially began his career at the age of 18 as a scientific glass blower. Over time, he became extraordinarily skilled and eventually began making and selling more artistic lampwork figures. Eventually, Ayotte had the opportunity to meet Paul Stankard, considered the father of the American glass paperweight, who spearheaded the emerging glass-blowing movement. Stankard helped encourage Ayotte to encase his realistic natural glass figurines into glass spheres, and Ayotte’s lifelong enthrallment with glassblowing and paperweights was born.

Ayotte spent a large portion of his time studying the biology and habitats of his subjects, and eventually become an expert in bird anatomy. He often speaks of his desire to share his knowledge of nature with those who do not have the opportunity to see it firsthand.

As Ayotte’s craft evolved, his tastes did as well. Fond of 19th century French paperweights, he continued to perfect the realistic flowers and small creatures in his own works.

Today, Ayotte’s paperweight exhibitions tour the world and his creations can be found in prestigious collections all over the globe, including The White House, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corning Museum of Glass, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada.

Contact Us

If you have questions regarding Ayotte’s paperweights or are simply interested in learning more about The Glass Gallery, don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to sharing our enthusiasm about this globally recognized specialty craft. Call us at 314.416.4200 or send an email []