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FLEA MARKET FIND - Bacchus or Gillender? Happy for help.


To all those eager paperweight collectors out there who scour flea markets and antique shows and garage sales and boot sales, etc., searching for something terrific, take heart, every now and then a very good paperweight will pop up. The weights are out there; therefore, finding one treasure on a sunny Sunday after weeks and weeks of looking always delights.

After three weeks in Europe, and a weekend of decompression, I went to a local flea market yesterday (Sunday, October 24). It's the biggest in the area and has regular and new dealers at their tables, as well as six huge buildings filled with dealers of all kinds who rent their spaces for permanent showing and sales. Lots of antiques, lots of collectibles, lots of bric-a-brac, and lots of junk. A great mix, to be sure.

We were strolling the outdoor tables, pondering whether to buy some of the final crop of plum tomatoes from Margharetta's farm stand (interestingly, she's an Italian immigrant from the Naples area), when we walked down a row of dealers under the trees. By the way, we did buy some of her tomatoes. These spaces are usually filled with sellers who show up one or two weeks a year just trying to get a few bucks for junk they didn't sell at their street's block sale.

On one of the tables was the paperweight in question and immediately knew it was something special. Without batting an eye - although I was excited inside - I grabbed it, paid $35 (USD) for it, and now comes the question of attribution. It's either Bacchus (U.K.) or Gillender (U.S.A.), and since the two old-time glassworks blended a bit due to glassmakers who emigrated to America, I'm not 100% sure as to the factory that produced the weight. The only thing of which I am sure is that it is either Bacchus or Gillender.

The lovely paperweight weighs 1 pound 12 ounces and is approximately 2 and 1/2 inches high and approximately 3 inches across. The colors of the millefiori canes are pastel in nature, with an emphasis on white, grey, and a shade of maroon - or maybe mauve. The canes bundle at the base. There is a 1/2-inch wide clear ring around the bottom with a very slight concave dip in it. Very slight. The condition of the weight is very good. A couple of very minor pinpricks sit just below the curvature of the dome, thus they don't detract from any overhead and most side views. There are a few very tiny bubbles scattered within, and there's an errant cullet a 1/4-inch from the bottom that blends into the cane bundle. Other than that, it's a beauty and I'm thrilled.

Anyone who can help confirm the maker please offer an opinion. Bacchus and Gillender weights are rarities, and I've only seen a few of either weights at a museum. Most of my "experiences" with Bacchus and Gillender weights is from photographs in paperweight books.

Thanks so much. I've posted images of various views of the paperweight.

fixed and put post from second post into first.

Hi EstinClichy,

I don't think there will much response on this one. As far as I know, the folk who know most about Bacchus / Gillender weights do not (yet) read this board.

For what it's worth, I agree that Bacchus / Gillender is a reasonable thought. The white cog canes, as seen in the central row, appear to be the same as others in the more regular (?) version with a white collar surround that are known in Bacchus weights. Also, the style of the white / purple canes is clearly of Bacchus type.

The general view of the "pulled in" canes in the underside is consistent with Bacchus (and also other Old English weights) but I have no information about the way the underside is finished in Gillender items.

However, I believe that the "stalk / stem" finish to the underside of the canes is rather unusual for Bacchus. I have only ever seen a couple of examples with a "stem" finish in the books. Maybe this makes it an even more interesting weight?

Unfortunately, as you are probably aware, there is not a great deal in the literarture covering the detail of Gillender weights and so it is hard to rule them in or out by comparison to others.

If you would be happy for me to take copies of some of the images, I could pass them on to Bob Hall for his opinion. Also, you may be able to get good input via the PCA.

A very lucky find to be sure. Based on what I know and the Bacchus weights I've seen - in reality and in photographs, I very definitely believe this is a Bacchus. Worth much, much more than the $35 you paid for it. Wow is all I can say. I'm going to start going to more flea markets.

Update ...

I have had a reply from Bob Hall (author of Old English Paperweights & two other paperweight books). He says:
--- Quote ---... it does look like one of those unknown English weights we see pretty regularly and at some stage may be proven to be Bacchus.
--- End quote ---
So it's best to call it a "maybe" rather than a "certainty" at this stage.

I also now understand that further research into Gillender weights is being carried out in America. Perhaps results of this will be published in the paperweight literature in the not too distant future.


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