Is paperweight worth writing home about?
Question: While going over my late uncle’s estate, I found this unusual paperweight in a desk drawer. It has a molded, white bust of George Washington inside the glass, and on the back, it is signed “Washington.” It is about 2 inches in diameter and in good condition except for two small chips on the base. What is this type of weight called? What can you tell me of the history and value?
Answer: You have a sulphide paperweight, known technically as “cameo incrustation.” These often had a full figure of a white, opaque animal; or a cameo head of a famous person enclosed in glass. They were also made as marbles, as well as vases and drinking vessels.
The art of sulphide-making dates back to Bohemia in the 13th century. By the early 19th century in France, the Baccarat, Clichy and St. Louis glass houses created sulphides for the luxury markets of Europe. In the 1840s, they exported them to America. Basically, sulphides are white ceramic paste. By the late 19th century, cheap imitations were being made, with the design pressed into a glass object that left an impression that was then filled with plaster of Paris and glued onto the surface. Yours appears to be 19thcentury Baccarat. The chips lower the value. It could sell at auction for $200.
To learn about your antique, send a photo, along with its history, size, any signatures and a self-addressed stamped envelope and $25, to Anne Gilbert, P.O. Box 740136, Boynton Beach, FL 33437.
This piece could sell at auction for around $200.