David Graeber | Storytelling in Glass

Decorative Glass Paperweights

Every piece of glass art that David Graeber makes begins with a good story. Whether he’s in the mood to pay tribute to a former professor, remember a family member, or document the life journey of a silkworm, each of his works aims to relay a personal reflection or his love of nature.

Graeber, born in New Jersey, has grown into part of a South Jersey glassmaking tradition that dates back to the 1700s. Here, glassworkers were eventually recognized for their skill in creating glass paperweights.  They began to incorporate glass designs into the traditional community values of home, church and country.

Graeber’s Apprenticeships | Vail & Stankard

In the late 1980s, Graeber had the opportunity to act as an apprentice for George Vail, a local artist and professor, who introduced him to  to woodworking, architectural reconstruction, commercial art, and forensic sculpture. Graeber met internationally acclaimed glassblower Paul Stankard in 1980, considered the father of modern glass paperweights, who invited him to work as an assistant. The opportunity afforded Graeber time and space for creative freedom. After years of encouragement from Stankard and other mentors, Graeber finally established himself as an independent glass artist in 2009.

Contact The Glass Gallery

If you have questions regarding Graeber’s work or are simply interested in obtaining more information aboutThe Glass Gallery and its current exhibits, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’re the world’s premier dealer of fine art glass paperweights and boast a collection of antique and contemporary paperweights from all over the world. Call us at 314.416.4200 for additional information or send an email [info@selman.com]

French Origins VM Clean


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