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Author Topic: Letter Weights  (Read 1672 times)

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Re: Letter Weights
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2016, 02:23:24 PM »
yes, I agree that the height of the handle might be a possible key issue Ross and Kev. 
That might also be why (in my head) I had discounted Linen Smoother or slickstone the first time I was investigating this one.
*I can't remember now why I'd discounted that as a use but for some reason gravitated onto it being a paperweight.

* see my comments on next post re this.
p.s.
Kev, I'd already done quite a lot of 'letter weight' research because when the phrase came up I thought it possible that's what mine might be  - hence all my links previously  ;D sorry for the overload of information  :-[

m


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Re: Letter Weights
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2016, 02:41:18 PM »
Edited - *I've just remembered why I didn't think it was a smoother
http://www.romanglassmakers.co.uk/pdffiles/linensmoothers.pdf

and this
https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/heritage-culture-and-recreation/archives-and-history/surrey-history-centre/marvels-of-the-month/early-medieval-linen-smoother,-surrey

My thoughts were the shape of mine was wrong - smoothers are all curved sort of like a gob of glass that has just been flattened into shape leaving it a flattened doughnut shaped.  Mine has a cut across flat base.  I thought that would not work efficiently as a smoother nor be able to be manipulated well as a smoother.  Which is why I went on to thinking it must be some form of paperweight.

However ... the medieval example found in Exeter at the bottom of that link, does in fact look very similar in shape to ours Ross.
and also this one which is 18th century and does have the tall handle but a flat base.
https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18621207/
If ours is a smoother, then it could be possible the handle got shorter as the type of 'ironing' or smoothing to be done, changed focus. i.e. what I mean is  perhaps that shape and handle size worked ok for smoothing or starching sleeves and collars for example?

This is what wikipedia has to say about 'Calendering linen' (fascinating reading btw with reference to other processes used for materials)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendering

However, I still think as you've both pointed out, that the handle would be a deciding factor.  I can't imagine trying to 'polish' starched collars and cuffs with mine.  Would make your hand ache and you couldn't apply enough pressure really without your hand hurting quite quickly.

I'm with them being letter-weights. I'd just like to know what mine is made of  - I'm hoping glass  :) but I'll add a photo later of the nick and the base.


m

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Re: Letter Weights
« Reply #22 on: June 09, 2016, 04:03:14 PM »
Ross - proof of yours and mine being a 'letter-weight' or paperweight - a malachite coloured (and swirled pattern design ) item in the same shape as ours with the knop handle
http://www.sellingantiques.co.uk/253672/late-victorian-porcelain-desk-paperweight/

proof in the sense that the particular piece has a label.  Seller says the label reads:
Waterson Bros. & Layton, Law & General Stationers, 23, 24 & 25 Birchen Lane, London"

I think the seller may have the maker wrong in that the label is hard to read and I found a reference to
'Waterlow Bros. and Layton'

Graces says:
1877 James Waterlow's business was divided by his heirs; two of the sons, with other members of the family and Mr. A. T. Layton, established the firm of Waterlow Brothers and Layton; Sir Sydney Waterlow and his sons, together with his brother Walter and some of their most experienced colleagues, continued as Waterlow and Sons.
Specialized on the legal and country side of the business.
1887 The company was registered on 8 January, to acquire the business of the firm of the same name, as stationers, printers.
1893 On 2 August, re-registration was effected under the same title in connection with an increase of the capital. [1]
1920 Merged into Waterlow and Sons
http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Waterlow_Brothers_and_Layton

seller also says

'(Birchen Lane is in the heart of the City). '

So his is possibly post 1877 and pre 1920 (when the company merged into Waterlow and Sons). 
However the Waterlow company goes back to 1810, so ours might be earlier (and his might be earlier - acquisitions and labels don't always coincide on dates)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterlow_and_Sons

Still don't know what that is made of - should think not porcelain unless porcelain is known to be heavy?
but the base of his also shows the glaze.  So wondering what 'earth' mine is made from?

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Re: Letter Weights
« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2016, 07:52:49 PM »
sorry to add yet more posts
re my thoughts on the dates being either early 1800s or 1860s:
-  this is the type of style (French) that made me think possibly earlier 1800s (obviously I was thinking of the black versions rather than the white with gilding but can't find any now to show)
http://www.french-treasures.net/Art-Glass_183/French-Opaline-Glass-Napoleonic-Dental-Spittoon-Cuspidor-1810_2544.html
-  however, the 'official' type business of the stationers (printers of money etc) and the 'governmental' looking style of my weight is what made me think perhaps 1860s (and probably 1870s). 

m

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Re: Letter Weights
« Reply #24 on: June 09, 2016, 08:49:15 PM »
I'm waiting for the camera to charge. 
Looking at mine, the only way I can describe it from looking at the base is it looks as though:
a)
 - it is made of dark brown 'slag' or 'marbled' opaque glass
- then cased in black glass
- and then the pontil mark has been ground off completely smoothly with something circular leaving a completely concentric circular type mark
- then over that the base of it has been ground extremely and completely smoothly (doesn't feel anything other than completely smooth and flat) taking off the black casing and leaving the interior brown 'slag' or 'marble' type glass showing and leaving the circular marks around the pontil mark showing to the eye but nearly imperceptible to the touch.


Either that or
b)
 it's made of lignum vitae and cased with black enamel and I don't think that can be possible.

The base of it looks like dark brown wood with woodgrain.
It kind of looks like the base of this piece , but this one has been achieved by a lithyalin glaze over the hyalith and I couldn't believe someone would go to the lengths of doing that over a paperweight base?
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/8993617_early-bohemian-hyalith-glass

That's what it looks like to me.  I don't think it's pottery as it is too heavy for that I think.  In all honesty I think option 1 looks most likely, as that's all I can think of.  Perhaps it's some form of hyalith glass?

m

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Re: Letter Weights
« Reply #25 on: June 09, 2016, 10:48:53 PM »
I'm wavering now
Bear in mind the photograph of the nick is vastly enlarged as I took it through a strong magnifying glass.  However it appears to show some form of gritty interior (possibly ceramic of some sort?). Yet the weight feels too heavy and too cold to be pottery and the base is really too smooth (although it might not look like it in the photos) to be what I suppose would be unglazed pottery. 
You can see from the base pictures that it makes it look like wood.
I think it has got to be glass looking at the glazed edge around the base as that looks the same as the edge on the black hyalith bowl. The bowl has a polished smooth base and dates to around 1820/30 period.
The photo titled 'base as it looks to the eye' is because it really looks that dark in everyday light.  The ones where you can see the odd coloured grain are taken under a direct light and near it.

Here are the pictures. 

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Re: Letter Weights
« Reply #26 on: June 09, 2016, 10:50:17 PM »
more pics.

Very keen to hear any opinions on this although I appreciate not being able to actually touch it and see it in person makes it difficult.

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Re: Letter Weights
« Reply #27 on: June 10, 2016, 09:47:16 AM »
these are taken in daylight
Two of the nick, from each angle - there is some form of white 'frit' on the edge of  the nick which is the part that looks highlighted or very pale.
These pics are taken under a strong magnifying glass so are massively enlarged and the best in focus I can do.
one of the base showing the edge wear and where it meets the black glaze.
m

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Re: Letter Weights
« Reply #28 on: June 10, 2016, 11:41:39 AM »
This link shows the family  history of Waterlow & Sons (Waterlow Bros & Layton being the label found on the sold similar paperweight).
One of the sons involved in Waterlow Bros & Layton went to Paris c.1880 (only mentioning this because I had originally thought my weight might be French)

http://www.jaggers-heritage.com/resources/The%20Waterlow%20family%20illus.pdf

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Re: Letter Weights
« Reply #29 on: June 10, 2016, 03:35:16 PM »
https://www.cmog.org/artwork/argus-or-thumbprint-paperweight?search=collection%3A481d8e5d716b5e9343a89f076da0a3ed&page=183

Item from the Corning classified as a Paperweight c.1850-1880
 8.5cm diameter - similar shape different execution.

Mine is 10.7cm diameter or 4 1/8" and weighs over 1/2 kg or nearly 1 1/4lb

There have been two others for sale in the same shape as ours and the malachite one: one black with gilded perimeter (but not gilded knop) and the other malachite (but much more patterned than the one linked to) - both say they are pottery/ceramic.


m

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