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Author Topic: Apsley Pellatt Curiosities of Glassmaking 1849-Venetian Ball & French Millefiori  (Read 7706 times)

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Offline flying free

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list from the Great Exhibition
https://books.google.com.do/books?id=OfMHAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+great+exhibition+glass+1851&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwigj8Dg85TMAhXBFz4KHZxyBDk4ChDoAQgpMAM#v=snippet&q=paper-weights&f=false

page 203
no 584 Buquoy
'...paper-weights(sic) of wavy hyalite glass'

'paperweight' as a search term threw up nothing - changing it to 'paper-weights' throws up the above!
However, having done lots of research on hyalith and lithyalin glass, I'm not entirely sure what they are describing especially since this is now the 1850s and Buquoy had been making Hyalith glass for a long time by then.
It might possibly be a hyalith glass base with a lithyalin stain on it in a wavy pattern (that's all I can imagine it must mean).


m

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Offline paperweights

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You might consider looking at the Giovanni Sarpellon book titled Miniature Masterpieces Mosaic Glass 1838-1934.  The author describes in detail the method of constructing millefiori, mosaic, and murrini canes.  The three methods are different.  The focus of the is not paperweights, but the canes themselves. 

I consider murrini the most difficult technique to comprehend until you've seen it done.  The cane is built in layers of glass by the artist "painting" each cane on its side until he / she has a complete cane that when sliced will yield the desired image on each slice.  20th century artists practicing the technique are Richard Marquis, Dinah Hulet, and Loren Stump.  Now there are many artists using the technique. 

From:  Allan Port
                                                             
Check out my web page for Glass paperweights, Paperweight Books, and Paperweight Information
http://paperweights.com

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Offline KevinH

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I will explain things, including what I mean about Pellat's context, when I have finalized the details.

As for the 1851 exhibition items, not all "paperweights" (or "letter weights") were made of glass, but for those that were, many may well have been simple, small, decorative glass blocks or perhaps moulded items of some form. Those items are not what I am thinking about here.
KevinH

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Offline flying free

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ok, my brain has caught up.  I will wait for your explanation.
Re the mention of Buquoy paperweights - I only added it because it's the only mention I have come across for that period of the Great Exhibition, where glass paperweights were mentioned. 

For information, I think the Buquoy pieces I have seen that are like paperweights are pyramid shapes and also I have seen an octagonal shape paperweight that is hyalith lithyalin glass. (for anyone questioning this description 'hyalith lithyalin', it is an important distinction as lithyalin finish was also done on transparent coloured glass pieces.  Hyalith glass is completely opaque and looks like stone, and then in this description would have the lithyalin painting finish done over the top.
I own a hyalith piece without a lithyalin finish on it but gilded instead (Buquoy) and have also owned a hyalith lithyalin piece.
m




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Offline flying free

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Only one item comes up listed as 'presse-papier' in the Great Exhibition list :
and that is for BAUTTE T.F. of Geneva - the item is not glass from the description given.  It appears to be enamelled on gold with a mechanical singing bird.

So out of the Great Exhibition list of exhibitors that I can find online the only glass mention of paperweight is Buquoy and is hyalith glass.

This does at least give written contemporary period evidence to the fact that there were glass paperweights in 1852 and calls them paperweights.


No mention of 'letter weights' that I could find in that list.


m


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Offline tropdevin

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You can find a reference to " letter-weights ( mille fiori) " on page 1038 of the Illustrated Descriptive Catalogue of the Great Exhibition.  This refers to Joseph Pfeiffer & Co, Gablonz, Manufacturers.  I think that they actually bought in various products, the paperweights coming from Josef Riedel, who had factories around Gablonz.

Alan

[Mod: Edited to add: For anyone interested in the 1851 Exhibition catalog entry, Alan's reference is in Part 3 of the catalog. To view all (four) parts I recommend the web page by Sarah J Young which gives direct links to all parts and has brief info on each section.]
Alan  (The Paperweight People  http://www.pwts.co.uk)

"There are two rules for ultimate success in life. Number 1: Never tell everything you know."

The comments in this posting reflect the opinion of the author, Alan Thornton, and not that of the owners, administrators or moderators of this board. Comments are copyright Alan Thornton.

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Offline KevinH

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On the question of whether the "Venetian ball" was hollow or solid ...

I do not know why I said (or implied) earlier that the “Venetian balls” were hollow. I may simply have been mistaken and did not think too hard before posting my comment. However, I may have been strongly influenced some years back by something I read in a book I never purchased, but for which I have recently seen a copy of some relevant pages …

Paperweights, Michael Kovacek, 1987

In his lead-in text discussing the “Genesis of Paperweights” he briefly covers the work of the ancient Egyptians and Romans and goes on to say:

Quote
… the first period of Venetian glass-making. One glass ball dates from this time, and this can be considered the ancestor of future paperweights. It is a hollow ball made of millefiori segments with gold leaf applied behind. … This beautiful ball is fitted into a Gothic reliquary, which is at the Fürstlich Hohenzollernsches Museum in Sigmaringen.

… Most probably this hollow millefiori ball is identical with the little balls mentioned by Marc Antonio Sabellico in his “De Situ Urbis Venetae”, written around 1495: “… include in a little ball all the sorts of flowers which clothe the meadows in spring.”

… The question of whether the Venetian glass-makers … of the 19th century … knew these hollow glass balls of the late 15th century … cannot be answered … There is, however a striking similarity between the hollow ball in the Sigmaringen reliquary and the Venetian paperweights.

And from the part of Kovacek’s text that I have seen, which is actually just a general  summary of developments from ancient to more modern times, he makes no mention of “Venetian balls” being solid!

So, perhaps I can use Kovacek's text as my excuse? But that would be unkind - the mistake was mine!

What I am sure of, however, is that most of the literary references I have recently reviewed (based on at least 30 books / articles) indicate that the “Venetian ball” was (normally) solid and often drilled through. The drilled hole was probably to provide a means of fitting into an item such as a reliquary or a table / pedestal ornament.

For confirmation, the "Venetian balls", rather than being just a mass of canes smoothed out in some way, all seem to have had an outer layer of clear glass and the final shaping seems to have left the surface quite smooth. This is similar to many modern paperweights that have the decoration set just below the surface of the clear glass - including the so-called "scrambled" weights of Bigaglia & co.

Also, it is interesting that the various authors either make little comment on a clear definition of "Venetian ball" or they point to various types of item as fitting the "conglomerated mass" (as stated by Pellatt). Dates for the "balls" are usually suggested as 15th or 16th or 17th century.

[Some comments on Pellat's book entry and on "letter-weights" to follow]
KevinH

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Offline flying free

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Thank you Kev.
Three observations: 
1.  It seems that a 'Venetian ball' ( referring to those Venetian balls apparently dating to 15th/16th/17th century as dates are suggested in current literature references) and as discussed in Pellatt, appears perceptively from the description to be the same as a millefiori paperweight in the sense that:
a) it is a solid curved shaped mass of glass
b) which incorporates millefiori canes

2. It might also be however that, although a Venetian ball appears perceptively from descriptions to be the same as what we know as a millefiori paperweight, it actually differs from what we know as a millefiori paperweight in the sense that it was actually always produced as a completely spherical item rather than having a flat base as a millefiori paperweight would have.

3. I'd love to know:
a) how the 'Venetian ball' that Kovacek describes (the one which is fitted in the Gothic reliquary), was actually made.
b) what this item really looks like. 
From the description ' It is a hollow ball made of millefiori segments with gold leaf applied behind' I'm not sure how you would make a ball of millefiori segments without something solid to place them on to in the first place or how you would apply gold leaf behind the segments.

Is this Venetian ball which is set into the Gothic reliquary actually completely spherical? Does anyone have a reference for showing a picture of this item?

I'm curious because Kovacek makes numerous references to it being 'hollow' .  Was he just mistaken - or is this particular item really hollow and therefore not a Venetian ball as Pellatt describes? 

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Offline KevinH

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I hope to soon cover all of the above, together with my "personal confusion" about Pellatt's details.

Hopefully I will get this done in the next few days.
KevinH

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Offline flying free

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millefiore ball - top item on this page I think?
1500's

http://www.museen-in-bayern.de/das-museumsportal/museumssuche/museen/museum/kunstsammlungen-der-veste-coburg.html
http://www.museen-in-bayern.de/uploads/tx_landesstelle/images/53556.jpg

'MILLEFIORIKUGEL
The Millefiorikugel from the 16th century was made in Venice .

Bundled colorful glass strands are fused such that there is an ornamental pattern in cross section . Thin sections of glass rods are placed in a further operation to each other and merged again .

The artful ball is crowned by a figure Mohr and originally served as table decorations .'

And a different one here: 'Historisches Museum Basel'
http://www.hmb.ch/sammlung/object/kugel-in-millefiori-technik.html

Glass
BALL IN MILLEFIORI TECHNIQUE
Venice, after 1500
Glass Stained Glass and gold deposits
Dm. 3.25 cm
Inv. 1917,824.
Amerbach Cabinet

Image Resolution:
3625px x 3090px
CHF 40.00
Add to Cart
The resultant from the glass processing ability to draw from the heated glass mass finest glass threads, led in antiquity for decorations in construction and inlay technique. However, it took the far more sophisticated glassmaking Venice to merge thread rods of different color so and to profile the resulting colored strand that the cross section of this extremely fragile formations tiny stars and rosettes incurred. These semi-finished products as well as spirally wound portions of glass ribbon and gold foil were melted in the ball to be decorated. Millefiori - thousand Flower jewelry - the decor in 1495 described by the Venetian Marcantonio Sabellico is called, the glass spheres decorates centuries and even today in far coarser form as a paperweight. This rare early example of millefiori Ball is listed in Amerbach inventory A 1578 as "1 Venetian specialties Kugelen", it stands as a curiosity rather than as a treasure for the variety of civil Renaissance rarities cabinet.


p

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