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Glass Identification - Post here for all ID requests => Glass Paperweights => Topic started by: wrightoutlook on September 17, 2006, 12:36:39 PM

Title: Mysterious D'Albret hexagonal sulphide
Post by: wrightoutlook on September 17, 2006, 12:36:39 PM
I bought this little mystery some time ago for a song and had sort of forgotten about it. I had done some book research on it back then, but couldn't find answers and put the item away. Now, a few years after the fact, the availability of information on the web is so great, maybe I'll find an answer.

It's a D'Albret Christopher Columbus sulphide, but it is not in standard paperweight form. It's in the shape of a hexagon and is only a smidge over a 1/2 inch high. At its widest point, it's about 2 and 1/2 inches wide. The flash ground is a deep purple or amythest. The paperweight is actually more of a disc than a true full-size weight.

There is the standard silver foil D'Albret sticker on the bottom and the early D'Albret scratch signature on the side, which reads Cr. d'Albret France. D'Albret signed its paperweights this way at the outset of their cameo production, but stopped doing the scratch signatures after a time period of which I haven't been able to figure out. Its Franklin Delano Roosevelt sulphide is also scratched signed.

My initial - and current - reaction to the sulphide is that it was ground down from something larger. REALLY ground down. However, I've compared it to other D'Albrets I have (the Jenny Lind and the FDR, for example) and the proportions aren't right.

If this is a standard D'Albret weight and was ground to a six-sided disc, the grinding was done by a true professional. There are no indications whatsoever that there was damage to the weight at some point in its existence. And, if there was a complete remaking and reshaping of the weight, how then does the scratch signature stay extant? I do note that the top side of the hexagon is slightly slopped - a downward slope to the left (as you look at it). The six sides are of equal length.

Has anybody ever seen anything like this? Are there discs I don't know about? Is there a possiblity that this was an early example by D'Albret, perhaps a test sulphide of some sort? I lean towards a thorough grinding and reshaping and polishing, but if something else is possible, that would be great to know.
Title: Re: Mysterious D'Albret pentagonal sulphide
Post by: aa on September 17, 2006, 12:59:34 PM
Quote from: "wrightoutlook"
It's in the shape of a pentagon

Looks more like a hexagon to me! :D
Title: touche
Post by: wrightoutlook on September 17, 2006, 01:04:07 PM
Ha ha. Good one, Adam. But come on, you make paperweights; therefore, what do you think? Is it is very good grinding or something else?
Title: Mysterious D'Albret hexagonal sulphide
Post by: Frank on September 17, 2006, 01:04:25 PM
Perhaps the sixth side is a hidden one Adam and only you have the power to see it :twisted:

If iut had been cut down the sig would have been affected, I vote this to be as made.
Title: optical illusion
Post by: wrightoutlook on September 17, 2006, 01:18:36 PM
Okay Frank and Adam.  :roll: Talk about your optical illusions. I was thinking six sides and I was actually staring right at the paperweight. You boys were quicker than I was to amend.

Anyway, thanks Frank for the opinion - you think it was made that way; then how unique is it? And Adam, seriously, what do you think?
Title: Mysterious D'Albret hexagonal sulphide
Post by: aa on September 17, 2006, 02:04:09 PM
Whether or not the signature is genuine, it isn't impossible that it was made from a round, domed, paperweight that was then cut down. If you took a standard sulphide pw and cut it down on a diamond saw, then ground and polished it, you would end up with something like this. However, if you intended to make it look like this, while hot you would push it into a hexagonal mould and when cold you would grind out the chill marks and re-polish.

While it would certainly be easier to grind six sides then five, you only need to look at some of the overlaid Baccarat and St Louis paperweights with five lenses in the sides (and one on top) to see that pentagonals are not impossible.

As to whether the accuracy of this grinding and polishing is a huge achievement, however, needs to be taken in the context of how large a factory or studio produces such work. If the same person made the paperweight from start to finish, then that would be unusual in this context and perhaps quite an achievement.

There has been some discussion recently of the superb paperweights produced by Allan Scott with cutting by Martin Murray. I hope they will forgive me if I use them as slightly more than hypothetical examples! In a large organisation people become specialists in certain aspects of the glass making process. Allan is a specialist lampworker, while Martin is a master cutter.

If Allan asked Martin to grind and polish a paperweight to this level, he could probably do it with his eyes shut, and it would take less than an hour!  However, I'm not sure how good Martin's lampwork is, and I suspect Allan's cold work is about the same standard, so if Allan had to do it himself it might take a few attempts and a bit longer to get it right!
Title: thanks
Post by: wrightoutlook on September 17, 2006, 02:08:18 PM
Thanks Adam for a brilliant comment.  :idea: I felt like I was sitting in a glass class and I mean that in a good way. Great detail. I think your paperweight instruction session would be truly meaningful. If I lived in London, I'd have taken it by now.
Title: Mysterious D'Albret hexagonal sulphide
Post by: aa on September 17, 2006, 05:52:35 PM
Next course is on October 17th and there are still two places left...
The last course had a father and 12 year old daughter combination. The 12 year old was brilliant, with terrific aptitude and control. Waiting for them to email pics. Will post when they arrive.

On the make a paperweight day we had two younger than 12, but for a three hour course, 12 is probably about the youngest I'd recommend. Depends on the individual, of course. Some 9 year olds would be better than some 15 year olds, I expect. :D

By the way, I do think this sulphide treatment is very successful, prehaps even more so than the conventional style. Maybe it was a test or prototype but didn't catch on? In the main paperweight collectors have fairly fixed views about form! :D
Title: Mysterious D'Albret hexagonal sulphide
Post by: Della on September 17, 2006, 05:59:59 PM
Ooh, I am so looking forward to having a go on the 17th. I know that my daughter (12) will shame me into insignificance, as she is really artistic. I just know that it will be well worth the airfare and other costs  :lol:  :lol:
My biggest worry is getting our pieces back home safely, but I am sure a solution will be found.
Title: more info
Post by: wrightoutlook on September 17, 2006, 09:45:16 PM
My research showed that D'Albret, with George Simon making the cameos, opened it's cameo/sulphide series with 1 paperweight in 1966, and that was the Christopher Columbus sulphide.

It was follwed in 1967 with three sulphides: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John and Jackie Kennedy, and the King Of Sweden (H.M. Gustaf VI Adolf K).

The Columbus sulphide had a proposed run of 1000 regular weights and 200 overlays. The FDR run, and these are also scratch-signed, was supposed to be 2000 regular and 300 overlays. The Kennedy run was 2000 regulars and 121 "experimental" overlays. The King Of Sweden run was 1000 regular and no overlays. The Kennedy and the King Of Sweden are not scratch-signed as far as I know. A Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy overlay was made in 1969 with a run of 300 and with Gilbert Poillerat crafting the cameo.

Other cameos were made from 1968 through 1974. G.P. did all those cameos. G.S. only did the first one - Columbus in 1966, and the three 1967 releases.

The cameo in my disc weight has the word Columbus on it's edge as well as the initials GS and the date 1966.

There has never been any mention of a disc weight, and I'm pleased to see that you (Frank and Adam) are leaning towards it being something special, perhaps a test or a prototype. It would be so great to know how it got into the marketplace.

Because D'Albret was making these sulphides in late 1960s and through the early 1970s, which is a mere 30 - 40 + years ago, there have to be surviving glassmakers from that era. Where the heck are they? And why isn't somebody in France writing about them? Or maybe someone in France has, but we English speakers have simply never seen the articles.
Title: Re: more info
Post by: Frank on September 17, 2006, 10:08:54 PM
Quote from: "wrightoutlook"
...perhaps a test or a prototype. It would be so great to know how it got into the marketplace.

Usual route is to clear out the stores every now and then, via the factory shop. Or of course via the glassmakers themselves.

The French output on Glass research is usually of a high standard but not widely accessible, I assume there are weight societies in France?
Title: one would think
Post by: wrightoutlook on September 17, 2006, 10:14:35 PM
Yes, absolutely. One would think there are writers on glass and a number of societies. There certainly are collectors. There only seem to be a few GMB members from France. Perhaps there's a French glass board on the web. Of course, there's that pesky language barrier. I know there are books in French on presse-papiers. I bought an old one a few years ago on eBay. Approximately $15 USD. Published in the 1940s. It had a lot of photographs and even a long section in English, although most of it was in French.
Title: Mysterious D'Albret hexagonal sulphide
Post by: Potentspirit on September 18, 2006, 09:32:58 AM
Well, it HAS GOT 8 SIDES  (if you count the top and base!!!!!!!!!!!!  8)
Title: actually no
Post by: wrightoutlook on September 18, 2006, 12:34:38 PM
Not really. Since most words have specific meanings, the word "side" means something different from top and bottom. Top and bottom can't be sides; they are, well gosh - top and bottom.  :wink:
Title: Mysterious D'Albret hexagonal sulphide
Post by: Frank on September 18, 2006, 02:17:59 PM
It also has 9 faces.
Title: gee
Post by: wrightoutlook on September 18, 2006, 04:59:27 PM
We're in the comedy zone.  :lol: