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Glass Identification - Post here for all ID requests => Glass Paperweights => Topic started by: wrightoutlook on June 24, 2006, 05:33:02 PM

Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 24, 2006, 05:33:02 PM
Ah yes, the joys of paperweight collecting.

For starters, what is the fancy name for a paperweight collector? You know, like philatelists for stamp collectors; numismatists for coin collectors. Do we have a name? Paperweightaholics? Glassaholics? Anything with -aholic at the end. Fusionists? The Latticino Band? Glassologists. Glassy-eyed Obsessives. You get the picture.

There are a lot of pleasures that go along with collecting paperweights, especially when someone finds a delicious weight for a terrific bargain. Like the St. Louis noted elsewhere on the board. Or my Clichy scramble of a month or so ago. It's especially wonderful when we find something and we know exactly what it is and where it was made.

It's the season for garage sales, which I gather is the American equivalent of a British boot sale. Families lug their items from their houses or apartments into their yards, sit on lawn chairs, hope for good weather, and sell the detrious of the year - or years - gone by. The avid, eagle-eyed collector, of course, hopes to strike gold. Or at least find a little bit of a treasure. Our eyes pass over the occasional Chinese weight or less than stellar Murano weight. Hmmm, do we need another Murano? It's only 5 dollars. Hmmm. Do we need another Murano? You all know about what I'm writing.

A month or so ago, I came across a nifty bargain at a garage sale that was being held a couple of blocks from my house. It was a dark blue St. Clair paperweight with a slight ring of bubbles around the edge and a sulphide figure in the middle. The weight was die-stamped St. Clair on the bottom, and the number 342 was etched, also on the base. It was similar in form and fashion to a couple of other St. Clair sulphides I have - a JFK, a Sitting Bull, and a mystery woman. I bought the latest  sulphide weight for $10.

But who is the bearded guy being depicted? Is it a U.S. President? A general? I narrowed it down to either Robert E. Lee, general of the South during the American Civil War or Ulysses S. Grant, general of the North during the Civil War and a former president. Or maybe it was an obscure president such as Rutherford B. Hayes. Or was it William Tecumseh Sherman, another general from the Civil War?

Both online and book research proved futile. And I was still wondering who the mystery woman was in the other St. Clair sulphide that I can't figure out. Is it a president's wife - Mamie Eisenhower or Bess Truman, perhaps? Is it Evangeline H. Bergstrom, fabled paperweight doyen?

So, I decided to track down the St. Clairs. Using the computer and 411 (telephone information), there was no listing for any kind of St. Clair glassworks or St. Clair Factory in Indiana, which is where I knew the family company was located. Elwood, Indiana, in fact. I checked and asked for listings for Joe, Bob, and Maude to no avail, even a junior, and was about ready to ask for Tom, Dick, or Harry. A computer link (or clink as a friend calls it - because you click on a link) for St. Clair mentioned Joe Rice, but not where to find him. So I went about trying to find Joe Rice. I knew the St. Clair company had various family owners and operational changes and at some point a nephew of the St. Clairs, Mr. Rice, became the most serious of partners.

But Joe Rice was also in hiding until I found a link to him at a tiny marble museum. Turns out Mr. Rice is quite interested in marblemaking. The marble place was in Elwood, Indiana. Eureka! So I called the museum.

The woman who answered the phone was pleasant, but was unable to help. My questions were, I thought, easy. Is it possible to speak to Joe Rice? Does he have an email address to which I can send him some questions? Is there a storehouse of St. Clair material at the little marble museum? Does your museum have a research library? Did the St. Clairs keep a list anywhere of the sulphides they made? Could the local village library have the St. Clair papers? Did the St. Clairs make a series of presidential sulphides? And finally, exhausted and sort of laughing at myself, I asked if she knew who the guy with the beard might be in a dark blue sulphide signed St. Clair.

Now, absolutely no offense to the woman, but she seemed unsure of anything about which I was talking. I might as well have been describing sea monkeys. She did say that Mr. Rice had just walked in and she would mention my call. She didn't ask if I wanted to leave a number. She didn't ask for my email address. She was just gonna mention my call. Okay, now lady, my dear, could you possibly just, you know, ask him if he'll take the call? Or get an email address to which I can send him my questions?

Finally, I snagged an email address and said goodbye. Mr. Rice didn't chat with me. I know small-town America is an odd place, but I sort of felt as if I had intruded on a seance. It was just a weird phone call. You've all had them. You know what you yourself are saying, but the person on the other end might as well be on Mars.

So, I eagerly sent my email with all of my above questions and asked if he would like me to send some photos showing the cobalt blue guy sulphide and the turquoise blue gal sulphide. Mr. Rice emailed me back, answering none of my primary questions and thanked me for my interest in the museum and his marbles. He did mention that it would be impossible to tell me who the figure in the paperweight was or how many were made, etc. I emailed him back asking of there was a registry of weights made by the St. Clairs, photos, anything?


Or rather, the email equivalent of silence. No reply. Okay, no hurt feelings. I knew that somewhere in my readings, I had read about family squabbles and ownership issues, etc. So maybe there had been ill-will. Or maybe Mr. Rice just didn't care to talk about the past. Hey, that's okay. I mean, why would he want to talk to a persistent paperweight collector, anyway? Yes, he still makes paperweights and a lot of them are sold on eBay through a couple of Indiana-based eBay sellers. Oh well, no harm, no foul.

Therefore my fellow glasspeople, below are images of the two St. Clair weights. Who is the man? Who is the woman? Is it Grant? Lee? Bergstrom?

Now for my message. It fascinates me that so many paperweights are unsigned or unmarked. Sometimes it stuns me. I always think that if I were a glass artist, I'd keep a log of my work, take a picture, and sign the darn piece. Sign it with anything. A cane, a scratched signature, something. All those thousands of Murano weights that have no identification. All those Bohemian, German, American weights from the classic period. Not to mention the unsigned French work.

I think it was a glass artist named Henry Miller of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who copyrighted a fountainesque flower design for the inside of a paperweight, which he made in the early 1900s. But do you think he could've signed the work? He copyrights the design, but doesn't sign his pieces. What gives? Just amazing. Were most glassworkers really company slaves? What historical tradition is at work here? I know that women were shunted to the back rooms, but it seems that even the men were cogs in the glass wheel. Talk about glass ceilings that need to be shattered. Thank goodness Perthshire kept records. I mean, come on, even Strathearn didn't do that. Oh sure, the standing flower design has an S cane and maybe a date cane, but that's about it.

Therefore, my message is a plea. If you're making paperweights: please keep a log, take a picture, sign them. And that includes you men and women in China. It's time to start taking more pride in your output you Muranese. How on earth, in this day and age, can Venetian glassworkers not sign their work? We collectors are grateful to the many contemporary artists who do sign their work.

Anyway, if you know who the figures in the sulphides are, even if you think they're your Uncle Fred or Aunt Fannie, please let me know.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Lustrousstone on June 24, 2006, 07:51:22 PM
Have you any idea of when these were made, because the lady looks very much like HRH Queen Elizabeth II. A royal visit souvenir?
Title: american st. clair paperweights
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 25, 2006, 03:37:09 AM
Paperweights stamped St. Clair, as opposed to Bob St. Clair or Joe St. Clair or Maude St. Clair, would fall into a specific year or series of years, depending on who was running the company at the time.

Because St. Clair paperweights are not considerd "high end" or single artist weights, there is not much literature about them. Thus my email to Mr. Rice, who I had hoped would be co-operative about the questions. I do believe; however, that St. Clair made sulphides during the late 1960s and 1970s, but I can't state that with total certainty. One would think that an American company, due to tax rules, social security rules, land rules, building rules, licensing rules, environmental rules, and work safety rules, et. al. would have reams of data somewhere.

I do know that the die-cast stamp on the bottom of the unknown "male" sulphide weight is undated, and simply reads St. Clair. The die cast on the "female" sulphide reads St. Clair 1972.  I also know that - depending on which St. Clair family member was running the company - the signatures were different. I recall reading somewhere that weights signed St. Clair were made by the COMPANY, but NOT by any specific St. Clair - such as Joe, Maude, or Bob, who had passed from the picture. Thus no first name. This may have been before someone other than Joe Rice took possession or possibly even while he ran the company. My fact checking here is a tad out-of-sync because it's difficult to find out answers. Thus my email to Mr. Rice, who decided he didn't want to provide any answers, which is a touch unfair.

So, no date on the guy sulphide, but 1972 on the gal.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Frank on June 25, 2006, 09:22:51 AM
Trying to get info from descendants can be extremely difficult and can also be terribly unreliable if they do respond.

Once you dig deep enough it is not unususal to find rifts, particularly where a small private firm was involved as often the heirs did not have the skills of the founders and as the company went bust so did the families. Ysart glass still gets enquiries from 3rd/4th generations and has helped to reunite branches of the Ysart family. Others prefer to continue the feud. Pirelli Glass proved very similar. Other glassmakers with a connection have developed stories over the years that have little remaining in the way of facts and the accounts can contradict definitive research.

Small companies tend to file the minimum required amout of paperwork and have little incentive to invest in the means to store it. Invoices would potentially be the best source and are usually the first to be disposed of for space considerations. Ironically, H&S regulations make the storage of paper problematic due to fire considerations. Older firms are better than modern firms who tend to store the minimum paper for the minimum time in conformance to various regulations.

A few companies do manage to keep records, I remember getting copies of the Kügler order book pages recording sales of glass enamels to Moncrieff's that were used in Monart and PY weights. Confirming the information from Paul. This despite the problems caused by the war:
Quote from: ""
In the 1930’s-40’s, the grandson of Gustav Haeubner, Mr. Klaus Küegler, took charge of the company after having studied with Prof. Springer. Until the very last days of World War II the company produced glass. An incendiary bomb destroyed part of the roof. Mr. Kügler and his smelter Mr. Herzog managed to save the building. Soon after they had to flee when Russian troups moved into this part of Germany.

After the war, Mr. Kügler started his own plant in West Germany, in Haunstaetten near Augsburg in Southern Germany. With his great expertise in glass-melting techniques, he re-produced the world famous Reichenbach colours. Glass-works the world over could continue to rely on coloured glass from Germany. He added new colours to the production and started a new branch, the Studio-Glasbewegung (Studio Glass Movement). Later he passed on his knowledge to the “Friedrich-Farbglashuette in Neugablonz”.

Heroism in glassmaking!
Title: i guess
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 25, 2006, 12:16:20 PM
I guess we - meaning paperweight collectors - are thinking too logically. We know what we would do if we were making paperweights or were part of a family of paperweight makers. We would keep records, at least a list in a ledger. And we would sign the weight and have some sort of dating system either on the paperweight or in a notebook.

But, alas, we are not making paperweights.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Frank on June 25, 2006, 01:41:54 PM
Glssmakers do keep notes sometimes but they are not always understandable, example from Moncrieff's:
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Lustrousstone on June 25, 2006, 04:49:47 PM
If the lady is dated 1972, we can rule out QE II, as there was no state visit to the US in 72
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: JP on June 25, 2006, 07:32:13 PM
Do you know if St. Clair is the only weight maker in Elwood, Indiana? I have a weight with Elwood, In. impressed in the bottom, but it doesn't say St. Clare.

Thanks for your post, lots of interesting points. I am new to paperweights and I am trying to catalogue my partner's mom's collection before it's broken up. I am amazed at how many beautiful pieces are completely unmarked. Is this a difference between weight makers who think of themselves as craftsmen as opposed to artists? Other industires certainly do seem to have more of a tradition of documentaion. I have a (very) modest collection of Delft porcelain, and I know the maker of almost every piece. Even  Delft pieces dating back to the 17th century are usually identifiable to a factory and maker.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Frank on June 25, 2006, 08:17:16 PM
See this discussion on the subject of signatures including feedback from glassmakers, historians, dealers and collectors.,5904.0.html
Title: sigs
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 26, 2006, 01:30:32 AM
Frank: I just took a look at just a few of the comments in that thread in Glass. Since my original post is here in the Glass Paperweights forum, I'll comment here about paperweights, which is what I collect.

Glass paperweights should be signed and/or dated in some fashion and records should be kept. This is because I believe that making and/or owning a paperweight is not just a personal thing. It ultimately becomes a public act. Why make a paperweight - why be a glass artist - if your goal isn't to distribute the art you make? An owner of a quality paperweight - or even a lesser weight that has potential in the future due to circumstances that don't exist in the present - is the guardian of the weight until the weight passes his or her ownership.

The owner of the weight needs to take care of that weight and plan on some sort of future for it. Decisions about paperweight collections need to be made. Should one sell off a collection or donate it to a museum? Identification of a paperweight is important for resale. Identification of a paperweight is important for exhibition in museums as well as for simply lecturing on paperweights. Knowing the maker of the weight also helps heirs to a collection.

I'm in the camp that believes paperweights should be signed. It truly is better to know the maker - and perhaps the year or decade made - than it is to not know. Suppose you find a style you like. Let's say it's Trabucco or Kaziun or Tarsitano or Salazar. You can become a collector of just one person's output. Yes, it would be nice to be able to tell who made a weight without a signature, but as we all know full well, that is too often impossible.

Thus an attribution mark is a good thing. Signature canes - a entire book has been written about them - are important. So are hallmarks and scratch signatures. I'm not as obsessive about number of weights in a series, but I'd prefer to know the maker.

To answer the question about other weight makers in Elwood, Indiana; aside from the St. Clair family, I'd have to assume Joe Rice is another, but I know very little about his output, except that he is a St. Clair family member and is not eager to share information.

And please remember the original purpose of this thread. Who is the bearded guy and who is the lady in pearls in the two St. Clair sulphide paperweights?

And thanks Lustrousstone for your fact-checking re: The Queen.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: m1asmithw8s on June 26, 2006, 03:37:23 AM
I'd say that those St. Clair sulphides are Ulysses S. Grant & Mamie Eisenhauer.

Yea, Joe Rice can be difficult to develop any kind of ongoing dialogue with as I've come to find in emailing him re. his roses. He may simply be too busy or maybe just disinterested.

Regarding glass artists signing their work: Yes it would be much better for collectors & their heirs if everything was signed & dated.
To others who feel that the art should be simply appreciated for it's sake alone, that is also a valid point.

To those who feel that an artist who signs his or her work reflects that they take pride in their work, I would agree. Hell, I made 1 crummy crimp rose, my total sum paperweight output, and it is Ugly.
But I'm proud as heck that I struggled through the process successfully and so I signed & dated it! (pics upon

Recently, I bought a wonderful lampwork weight on ebay script signed ''Joshua Steindler'', pic below:

The lampwork is just stunning and yet I'd never heard of this guy.
So I asked the seller if he knew of the artist as no info about him was placed in the listing, just his name.
Well, the seller proceeded to tell me, in part, that Joshua Steindler was a member of Paul Stankard's team for several years and that they parted on good terms. Joshua has gone on to make weights on his own and is mainly working on sculptural art.
Well, that explains the quality of the weight.
I'm sure glad that Joshua signed his work so I could find out more about him and how he came about his expertise.
IMO, had this info been included in the listing, the weight would have sold for alot more.
I wanted it, regardless because it is so beautiful and well made.
But some simply want to know more about a piece and the maker before taking the plunge and making a purchase.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Connie on June 26, 2006, 09:51:53 AM
I agree that the man is Grant pictured in civilan dress not a military uniform as he is typically seen.
Title: ulysess and mamie and St. Clair
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 26, 2006, 12:57:22 PM
Thanks Mark and Connie for noting that the sulphide figures are probably Ulysses S. Grant and Mamie Eisenhower. Upon reflection and looking up photographs of them, I agree. Although, I have to say that Mamie looks a touch like Evageline Bergstrom.

So now I wonder if there are other presidential wife sulphides that were made by St. Clair. Why did they make Mamie? Is there a Dwight Eisenhower? I have the St. Clair JFK, but have never seen a Jackie Kennedy. Except the sulphide of JFK and Jackie by D'Albret, of course.

I suppose it will be impossible to discover what glassmaker actually made the weights at St. Clair. And what presidents and wives were cast into sulphides. Although, with employment records and knowing what year or years St. Clair weights were solely signed ST. CLAIR (and not Joe, Bob, or Maude St. Claude), we could possibly pin down a year for the Ulysses S. Grant paperweight and maybe a specific glassmaker. The "female" sulphide" - Mamie - is dated 1972 in the die-cast stamp. Which begs the question, why wasn't Grant given a year of manufacture?

Oh well, it seems that Joe Rice is the man who would have most of the answers, but he's not talking. A silver lining might be that perhaps he's writing a book about the St. Clair family and St. Clair paperweights and wants to keep the information to himself for now. It is a book I would buy.

I am pleased to see that some St. Clair paperweights are getting good prices on eBay and other online sites, especially the highly collectible, high-domed weight with the Kewpie doll figure in it. Joe St. Clair paperweights, especially, are doing well.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: JP on June 26, 2006, 02:37:05 PM
While I was looking at the images, Paul looked over at the screen and said "is that James Garfield?"  After looking at some images of both Garfield and Grant, I have to agree, much more like Garfield. Grant had his cocky hairstyle and a different brow. The mouth especially looks like some of the Garfield photos I googled, like:

Here's Grant:

The other sulphide is not quite as realistic, much harder to identify, but I think Mamie is as good a guess as any, though I have to wonder why do a Mamie in 1972? That doesn't seem to be a significant year in her biography, she died in 1979.
Title: uh oh
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 26, 2006, 03:01:28 PM
Thanks for throwing a monkey wrench into the works JP. Ha ha. Only kidding.

Hey, you and your pal might just be right. It does look like James Garfield. I had thought Rutherford B. Hayes, too. Maybe there's an Indiana connection to the St. Clair paperweight sulphides. Maybe the guy is Sigmund Freud. Oh man, oh man, if only Mr. Joe Rice would answer questions.

As for the "female" sulphide (marked and dated 1972), if it is Mamie Eisenhower, maybe it was a companion to a Dwight Eisenhower weight. Of course, there'd be no 1950s Mamie or Ike weights (when they were most famous) simply because paperweights were not in full bloom in the 1950s in the U.S.A., although certainly Kaziun and Stankard were puttering around with glass. Most of the new paperweight output - and technical discovery - was being generated in Europe. Certainly, the renaissance was taking place in Europe, what with Baccarat, St. Louis, and D'Albret tinkering around with the baubles, as well as the work of the Ysart clan.

The Evangeline Bergstrom sulphide by Baccarat was done in 1973, so either the St. Clair people were very prescient, thus pre-dating and getting a jump on the Baccarat folks - or it isn't Mrs. Bergstrom, which brings us back to Mamie Eisenhower. But it is possible that it IS Mrs. Bergstrom. Certainly Joe St. Clair would have known of her, if not actually knowing her.

So, am I back to not actually knowing who the sulphides are depicting? Probably.

Somewhere, someone knows. Paging Mr. Rice. Or somebody in Elwood, Indiana.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: m1asmithw8s on June 26, 2006, 03:03:00 PM
I'm not certain but believe that St. Clair did make an Eisenhauer sulphide as wll as several other presidents.
If you go to Amazon and search 'St. Clair Glass', you may find 2 thin paperback books that were written awhile ago (mine are in storage).
While both of these have some nice pictures, they both only provide superficial information re. their output and the particulars thereof.

There are a few things that I have learned from midwest weight collectors as well as observing the comings and goings on ebay:

There are many different 'Hot Stamped' St. Clair signatures including but not limited to the following: STC, Hand made by St. Clair, Joe St. Clair, Maude & Bob St. Clair, Bob St. Clair (there are no solo Maude St. Clair sigs as far as I know), Ed St. Clair, Paul St. Clair. Sometimes the year is included too. I have seen the year as early as 1972 (maybe 1971) and as late as 1984. St. Clair, as they were in their various incarnations, ceased operations in 1987.
As to when Joe Rice fired up his 'House of Glass', I do not know for certain. He is a nephew of the St. Clairs.

Interestingly, I've learned that the hot stamped signature of the bottom does Not necessarily mean that that particular St. Clair actually made the weight. But you have to know a real St. Clairophile to discern all of the specifics.
I have learned some. For instance, Joe made some beautiful crimp roses. I've been told the estimate of his crimp rose output from the late 1960s through the early 1980s was around 1500 roses. His roses had 15 rose petals surounding a single central stamen. The are all hot stamped Joe St. Clair. Additionally, some that are cut/engraved carry the script signature of the cutter, 'Sid' (Sid Garret). As an aside, 'Jim' (Jim Beeman) has done some cutting for Joe Rice. Here's a pic:

However, there are a few crimp rose weights extant that carry a Maude & Bob St. Clair stamp. These are much rarer and the crimp used to make them is different too, a 20 petal rose with a single central stamen.
Well, neither Maude nor Bob actually made these. Charles Gibson, who worked for them for a period of time, made them. Here's a pic:

Crimp roses carrying the Maude & Bob stamp fetch premium prices. One sold on ebay a couple months ago for $1,000.00 USD, this because of the rarity of a rose stamped Maude & Bob. Joe's roses typically sell for around 5-600 USD, but for much more if they are footed, or blue, etc...
A rose carrying a Paul St. Clair stamp sold a few years ago for over $4,000.00 USD.
Any St. Clair weight carrying a 'Paul' or 'Ed' stamp will fetch premium prices as these are the rarest of the signatures, 'Paul' being the rarest.

As a final aside, a maker by the name of Mike Mitchell worked for the St. Clairs for a period of time. He was not known, to my knowledge, to have made any roses while working for them. However, he has made some on his own and also uses a hot stamp to sign his. Here's an example:

I hope all this is somewhat helpful and illuminating.
Title: st. clair history
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 26, 2006, 03:24:37 PM
Thanks Mark. Your replies are always illuminating.

Except for the big boys (Trabucco, Kaziun, Whittemore, Stankard, and others, plus the antiques of New England Glass and Boston & Sandwich), a lot of American weights tend to be shunted aside. Perhaps the most important mass-market paperweight maker in the U.S. (and certainly the most imporant "factory" weight company in the U.S.) is St. Clair. How many of those signed and unsigned St. Clair ash trays have you seen at flea markets? Hundreds? Probably.

This is why it's frustrating not to have more information, a lot of which some folks in Elwood, Indiana can provide. Maybe there are other St. Clair relatives with information; not just Joe Rice.

I did not know there were books about St. Clair, which means there's going to be another hunt on my hands.

One of the problems is that unless it was French or stunning American (Kaziun and Stankard), short shrift has been given  - at least here in the U.S.A. - to so-called "lesser" companies and makers. No offense to Selman or Jokelson - and I sincerely mean it; no offense - but they both tended to avoid some of the American output in their early writings, or ignored the American output completely.

Okay, I do understand that the Gentile Glass folks in West Virginia are not up there technically with the French or the early U.S. boys like Stankard or Kaziun, but still.

Except for Drew Ebelhare and Parabelle Glass, who else is making millefiori weights? Gentile did and still does. Most Americans are lampworkers and avoid millefiori work.

After all, Mrs. Bergstrom had a 1947 Gentile goose (one of the original ones) in her collection. And let's not forget that Gertrude Gentile is one of the first female paperweight makers. Thank goodness Jean Melvin's book American Glass Paperweights And Their Makers exists.

By the way Mark, your collection is beautiful. That St. Clair crimp rose is stunning, as are many of your other paperweights. And the Joshua Steindler piece is superb. Now that really was a lucky eBay find.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: m1asmithw8s on June 26, 2006, 06:09:07 PM
Jim Brown is also making fine millefiore weights.
Nancy Alfano markets them and one occasionally makes an ebay appearance  :)
Title: newcomers to me
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 26, 2006, 06:48:41 PM
Thanks again Mark. I didn't know about Brown or Alfano, so that's good news. I did know that a fellow named Hart was doing some millefiori and selling his work on eBay himself, but he was initially buying Murano millefiori and fashioning them into paperweights he crafted himself. When I first say his auctions on eBay, I emailed him about it and asked if they were Murano canes he was using. He emailed me back and said yes and that I had a good eye. He did say he was eventually going to make his own canes. So maybe he, too, is doing that now.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Lily of the Valley on June 27, 2006, 12:32:05 AM

I don't recall exactly how I got lucky and found this site.  I am really enjoying the topics/comments.  It's educational and fun!  This is my first post and it's easy to see I'm not all that computer-savvy.  Anyway, the above number is from an ebay posting which looks very much like the "mystery man" in your St. Clair weight.  Maybe this seller will have some additional infomation.

I look forward sharing some of my "mystery" - at least to me - paperweights but first I have to figure out just how to do that ...... :oops:

All the best ..... Lily
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Anne on June 27, 2006, 04:53:04 AM
Lily, if you have pictures and want to show them have a read at the Help stickie here:,6522.0.html and you can use GlasGallery to host them if you don't have webspace of your own. :)
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: m1asmithw8s on June 27, 2006, 05:01:47 AM
Jim Hart has been making his own rose canes with many variations and lately, he has been using an upset muslin ground.
Prior, he was using a copper aventurine ground which turned me off some.

Also, he's getting back into lampwork florals which also employ some of his rose canes, again on an upset muslin ground.

I have a good Hart floral with berries on upset muslin that he made about 2-3 years ago but I can't get a pic on here because it's too big  :(
Prices realized for his weights have grown over the years.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Anne on June 27, 2006, 05:03:59 AM
Mark, can you not resize the image down to fit?  If you don't have the software to be able to do this, check out Irfanview - it's freeware and powerful while being easy to use.
Title: thanks LOTV
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 27, 2006, 01:55:20 PM
Thanks Lily Of The Valley. I took a look at the auction you mentioned - 7424598262 - and discovered one possible new fact, but only a possibility. The seller claims the sulphide paperweight up for sale has the date 1971 and a series number on the base.

But the seller doesn't state if the date is scratch-signed or part of the St. Clair hot stamp (die-cast) look. My mystery "bearded gentleman" weight has the St. Clair hot stamp, but no date. My mystery "lady-in-pearls" weight has both the St. Clair mark and the date hot stamped.

I will have to ask the seller if the date on the bearded fellow base is scratched-on or part of the St. Clair stamp.

However, the paperweight sulphide is of the the same man. But the seller doesn't offer a name or description.

All of this brings us to another question. If the date is stamped, why wasn't mine stamped with a date? Just another mid-west glassmakers' mystery and a question for someone who worked at St. Clair to answer, not to mention Joe Rice answering.
Title: u.s. grant
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 27, 2006, 03:15:22 PM
After looking at a U.S. government portrait and photographic website that has wonderful official photographs and portraits of U.S. presidents and their wives, I've decided that the mystery "bearded fellow" in the St. Clair sulphide paperweight is one of the 19th-century U.S. presidents, Ulysses S. Grant.

I have to admire the ability of whoever made the sulphide at, or for, St. Clair to accurately capture Grant's crinkly eyes and puffy cheeks. It really is very nice cameo work.

I looked at the possible men, including presidents Garfield and Hayes, and there are things about both men that don't match up with the sulphide's cameo representation. So, until proven totally wrong, I'm going with Grant.

As for the mystery woman - possibilities included the Queen, Evangeline Bergstrom and Mamie Eisenhower. Based on the U.S. government site, I think the sulphide is Mamie, wife of President Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower. Here, the cameo artist did a great job capturing the pearls and the slight nod of Mamie's head. The hair is dead-on as well.

Now I really want to know who was working at St. Clair. Who made these paperweights? Who's the cameo artist? Why were some presidents and their wives selected and not others? Is there a larger series that few have seen? Where are all the paperweights? Information hints that maybe 300-400 of each weight were made. Why the heck isn't there a St. Clair glass museum? Does Joe Rice have some of these? Is there a cache of St. Clair paperweights boxed away? Where are the company papers? It seems that this sulphide work was done in the early 1970s. Why? Just another batch of questions, I guess, that may not be answered.

You can see both of these paperweights in the first post in this thread.

Here are images of the actual people, Grant and Mamie, as captured and preserved in photos:
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Liz on June 28, 2006, 06:41:41 PM , American paperweights (page 5) has a James Garfield (signed Joe St.Clair) paperweight.

My attempts to copy/paste to this post failed! I could get the description, but not the photo!  :roll:  

Not to confuse matters, but Baccarat's Robert E. Lee has similar features! But with St. Claire based in Ohio, I would bet they would cast Grant rather than Lee!!

Title: uh oh
Post by: wrightoutlook on June 28, 2006, 07:52:03 PM
Uh oh Liz, here we go again. The sulphide cameo to which you refer looks exactly like my sulphide cameo. The backgrounds are different. And, the seller doesn't state anything about a scratched number on the base; AND the seller states the weight is signed with an impressed Joe St. Clair, whereas mine is signed with an impressed St. Clair and has the scratched number 341.

Of course, it doesn't look anything like James Garfield's official photograph on the U.S. government website.

The only explanation might be that the seller of this weight has not gotten the attribution right and thinks that the cameo is of Garfield, but is in fact Ulysses S. Grant. It sure looks more like Grant.

Ah me.
Title: love it
Post by: girlglassguide on June 30, 2006, 04:35:23 PM
This is an absolutely fascinating thread. Like a rich detective story.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Lily of the Valley on July 03, 2006, 11:40:27 PM
Item number: 7423892613   

Here is a sulphide of Garfield.  I thought the info provided by the seller was interesting and might well support your weight being Garfield (vs Grant) even though my first thought was Grant too.

Enjoy .... Lily :)
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Lily of the Valley on July 03, 2006, 11:48:52 PM

Oops!  The above item # is the Garfield sulphide.  The one in the post before this is McKinley.  The info from the two sellers is the same though.

Very interesting ...... Lily
Title: getting closer
Post by: wrightoutlook on July 04, 2006, 01:16:58 AM
I have just sent an email to the seller asking some questions about why he/she knows about a paperweight Presidential assassination series, which I have never read about anywhere, ever. The seller has a long detailed description about such a series in the McKinley copy on eBay.

Of course, it does make sense. And, if there really is an assassination series, then I guess my "male" sulphide is Garfield and not Grant, who didn't die in office. But then, if there is an Eisenhower sulphide, it makes no sense, since he wasn't assassinated. But if no Ike, why is there a Mamie? If no Ike and no Mamie, then is it Mrs. Bergstrom?

And interestingly, again, the seller's weight has a number (the year 1971) hot stamped along with the words St. Clair. Mine has no year number, jsut St. Clair. But it does have the scratched 341, out of how many were made, which is another question entirely.
Post by: wrightoutlook on July 04, 2006, 12:58:36 PM
It's important to note that the two paperweights being offered are by TWO DIFFERENT SELLERS, and that the seller with the McKinley paperweight is the smart one. I received a superb email signed by him and his wife. The weight is 7423892613 on eBay.

Basically, they wrote that they were not aware of any written (published) reference to the assassination weight series. Living in Indiana (St. Clair was in Elwood), they've had many conversations with collectors about these weights. Many collectors they know have put together, or are in the process of putting together a set of all four assassination weights. In fact, collectors can put together larger sets, by collecting weights of each assassinated president, with a number of different background colors.  The last conversation the eBay seller had about these weights was with a group of collectors at a St. Clair specialty auction in Alexandria, Indiana.

Over 200 pieces of St. Clair glass were offered. There was much discussion at the auction about the assassination series and revolved around how many different background colors were used in the making of these weights. There was no consensus. There was also a Richard Nixon and George McGovern St. Clair Sulphide "series" of weights, which were part of a 1972 Presidential Campaign series, that only contained the two cameo weights. The backgrounds were all red, white and blue "confetti" glass.  

For the record, the four assassinated presidents are Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. The series contained four different sulphide weights.

Therefore, I am now convinced my "male" sulphide is of James Garfield.
Post by: wrightoutlook on July 04, 2006, 05:01:36 PM
I received a second email from the seller who confirmed that the "male" sulphide is James Garfield and noted that the four assassinated presidents paperweights pay tribute to: Abraham Lincoln - who was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth; James Garfield - who assassinated by Charles J. Guiteau; William McKinley - who was assassinated by Leon F. Czolgosz; and John F. Kennedy - who was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald.

He also wrote that "as for Ike and Mamie, they, too, were produced in 1972.  We see Ike relatively often, but Mamie is very rare.  The only other female 'sulphide' by St. Clair of which we're aware is Betsy Ross.  That Ross weight isn't a cameo, but almost a cartoon or 'precious moments' type figurine of Betsy sewing the American flag. It too is rare, but not as rare as Mamie in our experience."
Seller also wrote that "as someone who shares your passion for glass (especially paperweights) I applaud your efforts at scholarship.  There are many areas of this hobby which are inadequately documented, and a great deal of information which has been (and continues to be) lost, as more and more of America's great glass factories disappear, with very little fanfare or concern from the public."

Frankly, this seller has offered more information than Joe Rice decided to convey. There really must have been bad blood in that family or just so much sadness at the passing of the St. Clairs (Joe, Bob, and Maude) in the 1980s that discussing the company and the family is just too difficult.

And, as I wrote before, perhaps he is writing a book. Now, that would be nice.

Anyway, it's good to have confirmation about whom the two sulphides depict. And it's nice to know the Mamie is rare. On eBay right now are McKinley and Garfield sulphides as noted in other posts. And, of course, the importance of glassmakers signing and, hopefully, dating their works can't be stressed more strongly.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Liz on July 04, 2006, 11:35:03 PM
:shock:  Wow....very interesting information provided by the seller!! Isn't it wonderful when you come across a seller with a wealth of information that enjoys sharing his/her knowledge....they are the ones that make Ebaying (or buying in general) fun!

Much like so many of you on this board...without your willingness to share your very valuable expertise, we beginners would be hard-pressed to gain the insight you provide. While there are alot of books on paperweights, not to mention some fanatastic websites, the nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts questions are rarely answered in print. You are appreciated more than a simple thank you and a cute smiley will ever convey! :wink:

I can't believe I passed on the recent Betsy Ross  :x  I knew I should have bought it !! Grrrrrrrr...oh well, hopefully another, RARE , inexpensive, mint, Betsy will show up on EBay.!!

Wrightoutlook, thanks for a great thread, it has been most enjoyable!

Happy 4th everyone!!
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: m1asmithw8s on July 06, 2006, 03:32:37 PM
I recently acquired an inexpensive Betsy Ross sewing the Flag, hot stamped Maude & Bob St. Clair 1976, sulphide on ebay.
These used to sell for over 400 USD.
Here's a tiny pic image as there is a disc space problem with Glass Querries.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Anne on July 06, 2006, 09:01:35 PM
Quote from: "m1asmithw8s"

there is a disc space problem with Glass Querries.

What sort of problem Mark - there's nothing showing up as a problem. If you try and upload an image larger than 200kb it won't let you as that's the max file size permitted in the gallery.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Anne on July 06, 2006, 09:18:01 PM
Sussed it Mark - quota had been reset to default... weird as  there's only me does the config and I'd not changed it. I've now disabled the quota altogether. If the problem recurs please give me a heads up and I'll poke the server with a sharp stick.
Title: contribution
Post by: wrightoutlook on July 06, 2006, 11:04:43 PM

Are these figurines - the kewpie shown in the other "Adorable Kewpie" thread, the Betsy Ross herein - bisque? Can bisque take the heat of glassmaking and the annealling cooling procedure? If it's not a bisque figurine under glass, what is it? Is it glass? Is it something a bit similar to the standard sulphide/cameo incrustation? I love that weight.

What I'd like is for a few members of MidWestern Collectors in the U.S. to start a website or write a book about St. Clair and other midWest glassmakers like Gentile and Davis and others.

I think we can beat ourselves in the head with a tin can for a century before Joe Rice decides to help out and understands the importance of his role with St. Clair and the need for him to be forthcoming with information.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Anne on July 07, 2006, 12:08:00 AM
There is a James Garfield sulphide by Joe St Clair iillustrated on the Verre d'Art website here:  last to the bottom of the page. HTH
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: Frank on July 07, 2006, 07:57:40 AM
Looks very similar but not quite the same, or is that just camera angle and lighting?
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: KevinH on July 07, 2006, 04:30:40 PM
I think they are the same sulphide, but yes, the lighting will have quite a remarkable effect on the view of any sulphide weight. From one angle of light, features will appear flat, yet at another angle they can be "extreme". It's often difficult to achieve a photo euqiavlent to natural viweing because when viewing normally, the brain sorts out a lot of information based on assumed visual apsects and on lighting from overhead, not directly in front on to one side.

To me, wrightoutlook's weight always seemed closer to Garfield than Grant because of the "ridges" in his beard over the front of the chin. In all images of Grant I have seen (mostly on the web), his beard at the chin has not had vertical "ridges".
Title: i think
Post by: girlglassguide on July 07, 2006, 05:49:53 PM
I think wright has already excepted that the man is Garfield and the woman is Mamie.
Title: The joys of paperweight collecting, and A MESSAGE FOR MAKERS
Post by: KevinH on July 07, 2006, 10:00:41 PM
I think wright has already excepted that the man is Garfield and the woman is Mamie.
Yes, that is true. My comment was made only as a background to my own thoughts on the comparison with the latest example shown, for which Frank was not sure about the "sameness".
Post by: wrightoutlook on July 10, 2006, 01:05:24 PM
Thanks KevH and all. James Garfield and Mamie Eisenhower are the sulphides. And because this board is a learning experience, we have discovered they were part of an Assassination Series. Sort of grim, but nonetheless, it's good to know. Something comparable might be the beheaded women of Henry VIII.

Also, we found out there was a Nixon-McGovern pair of sulphides to honor that U.S. presidential election in 1972. Nixon, of course, would resign in disgrace, which makes these sulphides a worthy collectible, which is probably why I've never seen either.