Are you new to paperweight collecting?

Here are some tips from the experts on what to look for and how to learn more.

A good place to start is eye appeal; this just might be the most important tip. Does it appeal to you? Do you like it, do you think it's pretty, does it feel good in your hand, do you see a place for it in your home, or might it be a good gift for someone? These are good reasons to buy a paperweight.

Condition. This refers to clarity of the glass, crispness and tidiness of the design, finishing (i.e. lumps, bumps, chips, scratches or bruises), internal flaws. Some flaws are more serious than others. Things like scratches on the base (a sign of age) are acceptable, and a shallow ding on the dome can be repaired. Internal flaws such as a broken leaf or a missing millefiori cane are more serious as nothing can be done about them. Internal cracks are very serious flaws that can greatly devalue a weight, so beware of those.

Budget. Your budget and the price of the weight should align with each other. Don't buy a weight simply as an investment; the market fluctuates, and the value of the weight can go down over time. Don't buy an expensive weight unless you know what it is. Sellers often don't know what they have or how much it is worth. Don't trust eBay listings; most sellers are not experts. 

Learn about different types of paperweights, i.e. millefiori, lampwork, sulfides, scrambles, surface-decorated, dumps, etc. Recognize classical period (1845-1860) vs. contemporary (20th c. to now) and familiarize yourself with paperweight terminology. Click here to view a glossary of paperweight related terms.

Learn about materials weights are made of which may be leaded glass, borosilicate glass, acrylic or resin. Paperweights made from leaded glass are arguably the most valuable.

Learn about how paperweights are made. Demonstrations can be seen at PCA artists' studios and at PCA conventions. Many videos showing paperweight making processes can be found on YouTube. A good one for understanding how millefiori weights are made is called "How It's Made - Millefiori Glass Paperweights." An excellent one about lampwork paperweights is called "David Graeber Fire and Glass." The artists in both of these videos are PCA Artist Members.

Learn about the makers and whether they are studios or individual artists. Learn to recognize the styles of these artists.

Read books about paperweights. A list of recommended books can be found here on our website. 

Visit museums with paperweight collections such as The Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, The Art Institute of Chicago, and Corning Museum of Glass. Click here for a full list of paperweight related museums.

Meet and learn from other collectors and experts. Join or follow paperweight related Facebook groups such as Paperweight Collectors Association (PCA), Paperweight Heaven, Paperweight Collectors Circle (PCC) and regional collectors groups. There is much to be learned here. Experts and all levels of collectors post their questions, pictures, and experiences. New collectors are respected and encouraged. 

Join PCA, go to regional meetings and national conventions. If there is a International or regional group in your area, join it. It will lead to some great experiences, new friendships, new knowledge, and maybe even a new paperweight. Go to the biennial PCA conventions. You will meet the artists, learn from the speakers, visit a museum glass collection, and see the artists demonstrate paperweights being made. Last but not least, thousands of paperweights will be available for purchase. 

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