The National Glass Collectors Fair

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Book Review by
John Simmonds

Classic Paperweights from Silesia/Bohemia:
The Origin and Development of the first European Paperweights in the Riesen- and Isergebirge

By Peter von Brackel (English version by Ian Cummings)

Published By weights-n-things

Book Cover: Classic Paperweights from Silesia/Bohemia
Classic Paperweights from Silesia/Bohemia

In recent years there appears to have been increased interest in Silesian/Bohemian paperweights. This is substantiated by the good prices realised at leading auction houses for rarer, fine quality and more interesting examples. Further proof of this is reflected by the number of articles published on the subject.

However, until now, only a few books have discussed paperweights from this region, and for a long time collectors have, for example, wrongly attributed unknown weights to Bohemia or St. Mandé, and vice versa. Fortunately with the publication of Peter von Brackel’s outstanding book we need wait no longer for the answer to many of the questions that have troubled us for so long. To start with just consider this précis of the contents in its 336 pages and 20 chapters:- approx 600 illustrations of paperweights and related items (over 800 when including detailed images and drawings), 2800 illustrations of canes, chronological classification, a superb glossary and nearly 200 references!

An important finding is that, contrary to popular belief, the first paperweights were made in Silesia/Bohemia in the late 1830s-1842, and not Venice. One of only five known examples – a fine weight, is shown containing 116 different canes, each of which is individually illustrated. Two of the other weights are also well covered. Such is the detail of Peter’s work.

Extensive historical data of important early workers such as Dr.Franz Pohl is most interesting, and leads to the background and identification of 8 groups of paperweights positively linked to 4 of the glassworks that made them.

Early in the listing are 19 Karlsthal paperweights which employ only a few different canes and are extremely rare; all are illustrated.

By comparison, output from the Josephinenhütte was prolific, and here again the author’s coverage of everything shows his masterly exploitation of the subject. Over 100 paperweights and related items illustrated are usefully divided into 16 groups, and the immense range of canes (14 groups) demand 24 pages to show them all. The weights include a fine unique weight with a red and white torsade and five silhouette canes, (Publisher’s note: strangely enough, since the publication of the book, 3 other weights of this type have turned up, one with a blue, red and white torsade, one with just a white torsade and one with a torsade “foot” – possibly a prototype.),whilst the cane classification section shows the excessively rare white poodle cane.

Next come Harrach paperweights with the range including millefiori filled basket weights and many different overlays. Once again many canes are shown and the appropriate grouping will greatly ease the task of collectors needing to identify their own items.

Amongst probably the lesser known names, that of Friedrich Egermann has been well researched by the author, who makes us appreciate just how much he contributed to the early years of manufacture with his numerous inventions. Besides millefiori, facetted weights with an amber stained base, often etched with an animal motif, were probably made at Egermann’s glassworks; and these are compared against their French equivalents.

With the recent growth of interest in Riedel weights it should be noted that this manufacturer has been well covered, and includes a rare weight, with mica, on a blue ground.

Some unattributable weights and related objects are shown which in all probability were made in the region. These include a rare example with canes in unusual colours.

Paperweights from the post classic period (c.1870-1910) conclude the main part of the book, with 6 groups covering a wide range from millefiori and sulphides, to lampwork snakes and a frog. Some of an exceptionally good standard are probably from Silesia.

Throughout the book comments such as glass colour, S.G. and U.V. data all add to its value.

So, if like many of us you have any weights that you think might be Silesian or Bohemian then look no further, as there is every chance that this latest, and very important, addition to the paperweight library will provide the answer. Its value both now, and in the future, will undoubtedly be considerable, and should not be underestimated.

The print run will be 1000 copies, of which the first 250 will be signed by both Peter and Ian Cummings.

Price will be £70 plus p+p (where applicable)

The book can be ordered through:

50931 Cologne


Review By John Simmonds

This book review was reproduced with the kind permission of the Paperweight Collectors Circle and John Simmonds.


Please note that the content of this article is the sole intellectual property of the author. No reproduction or reference to the text of this article may be made without the express permission of the author.

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