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What are antique paperweights?

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Quick Answer

Antique paperweights are collectible paperweights that are often made of glass and can be dated as early as 1845. Paperweights are small heavy objects made of glass or metal and are placed on paper to keep it from scattering.

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Paperweights first appeared in ancient Egypt with the first uses of paper. Later, due to an industrial explosion in Vienna, companies began to make paperweights with glass. France is considered the country that pioneered glass paperweight creation; its factories mastered the Millefiori method and introduced the lampwork style in just a short time after its dominance in paperweight creation in 1845.

Multiple types of paperweights are available to collectors, including the expensive French weights of the 19th century, modern artist weights and advertising pieces. Dated paperweights are often nicked or scratched, but those imperfections can be removed by polishing. This method of restoration is controversial and is thought by some to decrease the weight's value; others consider it acceptable and state that it doesn't change the value. Paperweight collecting is often based in a fascination for the art contained in the glass forms. Collectors spend much time determining which artist crafted the piece, how it was made, where it was made, what other collectors are interested in the item, and what value the piece holds.

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