Published: November 25, 2003
SANTA CRUZ, CALIF., and CHICAGO – An antique glass paperweight, whose owner once vowed never to part with it at any price, sold for $165,000 at the fall auction conducted by L.H. Selman, Ltd., in Santa Cruz.
The extremely rare signed Clichy moss ground, with a large pink “Clichy Rose” at its center and a full signature on the bottom, has been written up in numerous books and sought after by collectors for years. The new owner is a private collector in the United States.
Once described as the “most important paperweight in the world” by paperweight don Paul Jokelson, the piece is touted as likely the most perfect example of the artistry of the Clichy glass factory, which flourished in Paris in the mid-Nineteenth Century. Few Clichy paperweights were signed, and most of those that were usually bore simply the letter “C” in a glass rod. This signed Clichy is one of possibly three paperweights in existence in which the word “Clichy” is spelled out in a series of six individual rods, called canes.
The rarity of the full signature, the large size of the central pink rose (which also serves as a type of signature in other Clichy paperweights), combined with the near-perfect arrangement of the other millefiori canes in the moss ground all contributed to the high price paid for this particular antique weight.
William and June Latta of Park Ridge, Ill., amassed most of their 210-piece paperweight collection during the 1960s and 1970s. As active members of the Paperweight Collectors Association, the Lattas dealt with dealers and collectors from across the country as well as directly with manufacturers in Europe and America.
Susanin’s Auctions recently offered the Lattas’ entire collection of antique and contemporary paperweights to the public during its eighth specialty auction in Chicago. One of three types of auctions under the Susanin’s brand, specialty auctions are themed sales that in the past have included entire collections of antique firearms, vintage motorcycles and bicycles, rugs and fine wine.
Gary McClanahan, a well-known dealer from Southern California and the world’s leading authority on paperweights, estimates that he buys half of his inventory at auction. He was among the many collectors choosing to participate in this specialty auction via Susanin’s interactive web site.
McClanahan said that for the last two or three years, paperweight prices at auction have been quite soft and he attributes that to eBay. “Many collectors don’t trust themselves,” he said. “They don’t feel they know enough. After all, if you buy at auction, it’s yours.” In addition to being a dealer, McClanahan, with 3,000 paperweights, boasts the largest personal collection in the world and said that collecting the highest form of art glass can be very addictive.
“It all depends on how serious a collector is and what his pain level is,” said McClanahan. “You may pay $20 for a paperweight, but will you pay $200 or $2,000?”
Some collectors paid $2,000 or more for several lots within the sale. A St Louis antique paperweight, for example, with blue, red, green and lattice crown measuring 1¾ inches high with 2¾-inch diameter was the top lot of the day, selling for $3,800 against a low auction estimate of $250.
Other notable lots included a St Louis paperweight with coral torsade and mushroom that went for $2,000; a St Louis weight with white pompom on pink latticino that brought $1,900; a Baccarat millefiori with one dog cane that was purchased for $1,900; and a Clichy antique paperweight with pink and white swirl that sold for $1,700 ($450).
Additional Clichy paperweights in the sale included one with geometric canes and lattice background that brought $1,600 ($275); another with a large rose and millefiori that sold for $1,700 ($250); and a striking millefiori and green and white basket that fetched $1,200 ($100).
Baccarat pieces included a blue and white flower weight with star cut base that was purchased for $1,400; two antique millefiori dated 1847 and 1848 that brought $1,500 and $1,700, respectively; and a pansy with star cut base that sold for $1,500.
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