Paul M. Hollister Collection, The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass
Transcribed by Bard Graduate Center
Title: Paul Hollister and Dwight Lanmon Lectures, May 17, 1986 (Rakow title: Wheaton [sound recording] / Paul Hollister, BIB ID: 167926).
Recorded by Paul Hollister
Paul Hollister, Lecturer
Dwight Lanmon, Lecturer
Location: Lanmon’s lecture at “The Sands” in Atlantic City, New Jersey, both events for Wheaton Village’s Paperweight Collectors Weekend. Hollister lecture location unconfirmed, but likely Wheaton.
Natalie DeQuarto, Transcriber
Barb Elam, Summary and Editor
Duration of original: 125:13 [original recording concludes with Paul Stankard’s 1986 Penland Flameworking Workshop. Not included in transcript.]
Length: 17 pages
Note: This transcript is based upon an audiotaped recording that has been digitally converted. The recording is part of the Paul M. Hollister Collection at The Rakow Research Library at The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, and was transcribed at Bard Graduate Center, New York, New York, for the digital exhibition and archive Voices in Studio Glass History: Art and Craft, Maker and Place, and the Critical Writings and Photography of Paul Hollister. Usage requests for all or part of this transcript must be obtained from The Rakow Research Library at The Corning Museum of Glass.
Paul Hollister often made audio recordings for research purposes in preparation for writing, including interviews with artists and curators, and lectures. The reader should bear in mind that transcriptions of these recordings reflect spoken, rather than written, prose. While every effort was made to be as accurate as possible, the sound quality of the recordings in the Paul Hollister Collection varies greatly. Transcripts have been edited for readability and occasionally condensed. They should serve as a best-effort guide to the original only and not be considered verbatim.
Summary: The following transcript (LECTURE 1) documents Hollister’s contribution to a panel discussion at Wheaton Village titled “And Then I Would Buy…” Four experts were asked which objects they would select for a hypothetical collection of five paperweights. Hollister was asked to choose for an art museum with an unlimited budget.
Dwight Lanmon amended to include the catalogue numbers from Paperweights: Flowers Which Clothe the Meadows, the exhibition catalogue for The Great Paperweight Show at The Corning Museum of Glass (April 29-October 21, 1978).
Mentioned [LECTURES 1 and 2]: Baccarat, Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Tim Clarke, Clichy, The Corning Museum of Glass, Cristellerie de Pantin, Crystal Palace, London, England, Amory Houghton, Paul Jokelson, Maurice Lindon, lizards, Mount Washington [paperweights], Musée des Arts et Métiers, New England Glass Company, New-York Historical Society, Old Sturbridge Village, Paperweight Collectors Association, paperweights, Clara S. Peck, Apsley Pellatt, pompons, Arthur Rubloff, Russia, Saint-Louis, salamanders, Paul Stankard, Debbie Tarsitano, Julius Tarshis, Alan Tillman, Lynne Tillman, wine, Paul Ysart, Salvador Ysart
Lanmon’s lecture (LECTURE 2) beings on page 6
Paul Hollister (PH): [PH speaks into a recorder] This is Saturday, May 17, 1986, and I’m the last person on a panel on picking five paperweights with an unlimited budget at Wheaton Village [now Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Millville, New Jersey].
I’d like to thank Wheaton Village for making me an offer I couldn’t refuse. [audience laughs] This is the first time in my life that I have ever had unlimited funds at my disposal. It gives me a feeling of largesse that no tax shelter could equal. [audience laughs] Now that Ferd and Imelda [Marcos] are out of business, with the possible exception of the Getty Museum [Los Angeles, California], Wheaton Village is the only institution that can do this. [audience laughs] And so I’m going to purchase these five paperweights for Wheaton Village. [audience laughs] In his Curiosities of Glassmaking, 1849, Apsley Pellatt illustrated and described what he called a ‘Venetian ball.’ [Catalog #1] That is a Venetian ball of about 1500. We are able to date it because of the fragment of lattimo, or milk glass. The chip, which was picked up off the factory floor, and marvered into this ball of millefiori canes, which are really chevron bead canes. As you can see around the bottom and top edges, the portrait is a quite literal copy from a painting by Caravaggio, that would fall into the 1495, 1510, 1515 period. All you had to do to make a paperweight from this was to lop off the bottom of the ball, so that it would rest flat. And that is what was done, probably first in Murano, probably around 1840, maybe even the early—late thirties.
[Catalog #100] Now, if you wanted to collect or purchase very rare and wonderful paperweights from the standpoint of history, historically important ones, you might pick that, because that is a Clichy and the ormolu mount on the bottom is stamped [in a correspondence with Barb Elam at Bard Graduate Center on June 15, 2020, Dwight Lanmon noted this is actually engraved] 1845. So apparently, it was made at that point to either cover a broken foot, or to just to gild the lily. In either event, it dates the Clichy to 1845.
[Catalog #58] You might pick this one from 1851, which doesn’t have anything tremendous to recommend it, except that on the bottom it is engraved ‘V’ and ‘A’ for ‘Victoria’ and ‘Albert’ beneath a crown, and was probably shown at the Great Exhibition of the Crystal Palace in London in 1851. Clichy was the only factory that had the sense to send to that exhibition; Baccarat and Saint-Louis succumbed to the tax problems that they were having in France at the time—import, export, and tariffs and so forth, and didn’t send. So Clichy walked off with the prize, and this one was probably shown at the Crystal Palace, so it’s important from that historical standpoint. Though it’s one of many of its kind.
[Catalog #103] Now here is an extremely rare weight, formerly in the collection of Clara Peck; Clichy rose on the top, casing—white cased ribs around—it’s extremely rare, but it’s very unsatisfactory. You can’t see through there, you want to get inside, you can’t really see what’s going on, and the little rose in three dimensions right on the top doesn’t seem to offer enough, to me at least.
[Catalog #210] Here’s another case of gilding the lily: an absolutely marvelous, overdone double overlay faceted upright bouquet at the New-York Historical Society [New York, New York]. But very difficult to see the flower, it’s all in shadow when you do look in, and it’s really the cutting work—it’s a cutter’s dream. But it’s a—extremely rare, but not a great paperweight.
Now suppose we go into carpet grounds, there’s a perfectly beautiful one from Baccarat, 1848. Here’s one from Clichy—extremely rare, really quite lovely. [Catalog #112] Here’s what I think is a—is a little better one. Even though it’s not quite as well done, there is something sort of like embroidery about the way those little groups of canes, bundles of little rods, are all stuffed in there and almost smothered and buried by the ground itself. It’s a very small weight and very delicate one. That would be a candidate.
There’s a fine one from Saint-Louis. Saint-Louis always had the problem of noncircularity in its concentrics, and so forth. But this one is really beautifully done, extremely subtle coloring.
[Catalog #265] Or would you pick this Gillinder [Glass]? Just like powder puff, so delicate.
[Catalog #127] Or would you pick this spectacular Clichy grass ground—I think they call it something else now, but with a garland? Perfectly wonderful weight.
[Catalog #247] Well my choice surprisingly it may come, is that. That’s a little New England Glass Company carpet ground. Carpet grounds are quite rare there in Old Sturbridge Village [Sturbridge, Massachusetts] And when Old Sturbridge Village sold its collection a few years ago at Christie’s, they withheld this weight. I looked for it in the sale, hoping I might bid on it, and it didn’t show up. They kept it. So of course, the only alternative we have now is to just buy up Sturbridge Village and move it here. And that, of course, we can do. [audience laughs]
[Catalog #169] 1848 was a year of revolution in France, and we have this three-colored red, white, and blue motif showing up in various forms. Here’s a rare one from Saint-Louis, which is in the New-York Historical. [Arthur] Rubloff has one down at the Art Institute [of Chicago], but there are very few of them. It’s a good one, but it’s kind of—it doesn’t really have all that pizzazz.
That has a great deal more, with those double twists; extremely powerful. But the color one that I would pick, the patriotic color, is that. The simple Clichy with the stars. And you wonder how much they were thinking of America; there are not thirteen of them there, but. It’s a standard kind of weight, but a very unusual color combination, and it has real power. So I’ve picked that one under patriotic coloring.
Now millefiore, which of course is the basis of mid nineteenth-century paperweight making, a very fine Saint-Louis concentric in the New-York Historical. I took some of these slides—some are from Corning, this is one I took. Beautiful coloring, very well lined up, unusual. Both Bacchus and Saint-Louis often had slippage of one cane in the circle, but this seems to be absolutely even, concentric.
Very, very hard to beat that. [audience laughs; ten second pause] I took that picture—I guess out in the Bergstrom [Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin] years ago. It’s a deep green overlay, and from another position the windows don’t look quite as aesthetically pleasing as they do from this position. They’re a little bit small. But look at that view inside. And the white inner casing, opaque white inner casing, casts a light onto the thing, onto the motif, the lavender roses and the big rose in the center. It’s a beautiful conception, and the hatched ground—the cross hatched ground on the base.
[Catalog #117] Another beautiful one; hard to turn down. Interlocking quatrefoils, and, as you know, each loop goes up over the other one, the roses cross over the violet ones and vice versa. It’s not vice versa, the roses do the crossing. Nope, both, yeah. And a very nice, kind of the checkerboard arrangement of the filigree underneath—it isn’t muslin, by the way, it’s filigree.
A Gillinder. I think the subtlety and delicacy of color in that thing is absolutely incredible. Look at the pale violet, that lilac color there, and the pink. It’s a very, very fine paperweight.
And this is a nice Clichy garland, with looped garlands, on a green grassy carpet ground which might be the one I would pick, except that the next one is what I pick, and [audience laughs.] maybe you can see why. This is good, but it’s just a little blah after you look at it awhile. It’s nice, but there’s something lacking.
[Catalog #119] Look at that thing. I’ve never seen another like it, it’s got a ground—if you want to call it that—of green, pink centered, canes all around the edge. And then it has these groups of different combinations of colors just spaced right in there. It’s like a beautifully woven carpet. A marvelous oriental carpet. And when I saw that paperweight coming up at The Great Paperweight Show, I’ve been in love with it ever since. And yet it probably wouldn’t bring in anything like the money that some of these others you’ve seen would bring. It just happens to appeal to me, I find it endlessly interesting, it’s a convalescent weight. [audience laughs.] When you’re recovering from something, you just turn it around in your hand and it keeps you pablumated. [audience laughs]
[Catalog #82] Cameo encrustations? Not sulphides, ‘sulphide’ is a mistaken term that has something to do with sulfated silver, which has nothing to do with these cameos. This is a cameo encrustation of the young Queen Victoria, in a very large magnum-sized weight at the New-York Historical. And I remember once describing it—I like adjectives—and I described it as ‘having the quality of a pantheonic dome.’ It does. The light, this sort of semi-gloom that’s inside there, and then this wonderful encrustation of the portrait, and the star cutting underneath. It’s a simply beautiful thing. And probably the only one of its kind, certainly of Victoria.
[Catalog #269] Now, where am I? Yeah. Now, floral or fruit weights—pretty hard to turn that one down. It’s so big it doesn’t even get on the screen. Mount Washington, unusual colored rose, couple of pastry cook butterflies up in the top, and buds. A lovely thing. That rose, which—you just want to take it and pull the thing off and eat the flower. [audience laughs; 10 second pause]
That is my candidate for the best fruit weight. That’s also at the New-York Historical. And it really—aside from the bubbles and the striae, which you can see in there quite clearly over the pear—it’s a weight that—it’s—I just hear fire engine sirens when I see it. [audience laughs]
That’s a beauty, I went through hundreds of slides to pick these, and this was apparently one in The Great Paperweight Show. Very unusual, very lovely, but I wouldn’t pick that.
[Catalog #73] I love this one because even though it has that crummy, dogfood, ground-up Alpo ground. [audience laughs] It’s still—the butterfly looks as if it’s flying over a little meadow with flowers, even though they’re millefiori canes skimming through there. It’s got guts, it’s got originality, but I wouldn’t pick that one. [audience laughs]
This one is in the Bergstrom; there are two of them. The other one is not like this. And I think that Debbie Tarsitano ought to study it for the plumes, the yellow plumes in the center of the red flowers. It’s absolutely extraordinary, it’s a weight about, oh, five inches high, and just under four inches wide. And it has a great big diamond cavetto cutting on the side, about halfway up a belt of cutting. But it’s on the road to Paul Stankard, and the flowers are like wildflowers, even though they may be completely imaginary. It’s a free and original conception, but I wouldn’t pick that one.
[Catalog #148 or #149] There’s a gorgeous Clichy, there are several of these tied with ribbon, down at the bottom of the stems. That one, I think, is a particularly felicitous group of colors; it looks like a good still-life painting. The yellow and the reds and the pinks together. And the wonderful freedom that Clichy had with its leaves, instead of sanding them out on the cookie cutters, they did it—Baccarat and Saint-Louis, these are all leaves.
[Catalog #150] Now this is an interesting weight because it’s extremely rare, as you can see. Large, flat floral bouquets like that from Clichy are very, very rare. But I want you to notice the design and how it goes right down to the side. The laundry is hanging out, so to speak. [audience laughs] It’s pushing the extremities, the parameter of the weight.
I thought that this design was very rare, possibly one of a kind, but I later discovered that it was not, because there it is again in the size it was made to be in. In other words, no grinding butcher got ahold of it and cut the edges off for whatever reason. And museums don’t do this; they may have put in plastic simulation or re-glue something, but they don’t mess around with the original shape of a thing. And it’s the magnifying dome that makes the weight. Dealers hate to hear this, because weights are being sent out to be reground all the time. But they’re being ground down to the point where there’s very few left that were made as they were intended to be.
But that is the way it was intended to be. It’s less off center then it looks in that illustration. [Hans] Landshoff’s marvelous illustration of it in the New-York Historical Society book on the Sinclair collection shows that it is actually more on the center, but it’s the same bouquet, and it has the breathing space around the design.
[Catalog #146] This is a wonderful one, another Clichy bouquet, because the canes—to simulate, instead of doing the usual lampwork, the canes have been sliced lengthwise, so they’re like bloomers. [walks away from podium] You see? It’s like it has that wonderful glimpse that you get of ladies’ undergarments from time to time. [audience laugh.] Extremely imaginative, and look at the peppermint colors of those slices. That is imaginative paperweight making. I’m right at the end now, yes.
[Catalog #120] And here’s my choice for the hardest paperweight ever made. It’s minus its handle, which it probably has been for many, many, many years, you can see where the handle is cracked off there, but it’s a big long weight and it’s like looking down at a French flower garden. I mean like in one of the parterres in Versailles. I think that if this weight ever came up for sale, it might bring a half million. To me, it’s the—the ultimate paperweight. Clichy, of course. But as a New Yorker, we always have a bonus number on our lottery.
And I once owned that weight; I wish I still did. Paul Ysart told me that it was made by his father, Salvador [Ysart], back in the thirties some time. And it has a chambered nautilus ground underneath that curves round and goes down in a spiral pattern to the base; the base is just as interesting as the top with the blue twists in each of those little curving channels, and then that very bold butterfly. That was a magnum-sized weight, too, and it sold for some ridiculously low sum. [audience laughs] But those would be my choices. And then next week, I’ll bring you the next group. [audience laughs and applauds]
Evening Host: Extremely interesting group of paperweights [inaudible.].
[approximately 5 minute break with sounds of crowds]
Dwight Lanmon left a successful early career in aerospace engineering to enroll in the Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware’s joint Program in Early American Culture, receiving his MA in 1968. Lanmon became a curator, specializing in ceramics and glass, at Winterthur until The Corning Museum of Glass hired him as chief curator and curator of European glass in 1973. He was named director in 1981. His 19-year tenure at Corning encompassed such exhibitions as Three Centuries of American Glassmaking (1976), The Great Paperweight Show (1978), and New Glass: A Worldwide Survey (1979), as well as the opening of the museum’s new building in 1980. Lanmon resigned his position at Corning in 1992 to become director of the Winterthur Museum; he retired in 1999.
Summary: The following transcription (TRANSCRIPTION 2) is a talk by Dwight Lanmon, then Director of the Corning Museum of Glass, Reminiscences of the Great Paperweight Show. Lanmon was the guest speaker at a dinner at The Sands in Atlantic City. Hollister, who co-authored the exhibition catalogue for the show, can be heard making comments to himself about the paperweights being shown throughout the lecture. The recording cuts off early and was replaced by Paul Stankard’s 1986 Flameworking Workshop at the Penland School of Crafts, which took place a few weeks later.
Dwight Lanmon (DM): Three years before the show opened, it was hatched at the Washington Convention of the Paperweight Collectors Association. When I went to Paul Jokelson and said, ‘Would you like to have a meeting in Corning to see the collection of Amory Houghton,’ who was our chairman of the board at that time. Amory Houghton was perhaps the Arthur Rubloff of his time. He collected the finest collection of paperweights that had been put together, privately, until Arthur Rubloff surpassed him. He was the person that everybody else said, ‘Well, if Arthur’s bidding—if Amory’s bidding on it, don’t bother bidding against him, because he’s gonna pay what he wants.’ He paid world record prices, and at the same time, he was the most unassuming of men; because when I went back from the Washington meeting and said, ‘Mr. Ambassador, there are people out there who would like to see your collection who have never seen it and we would like to do a show of just your collection, and we would like to do a catalogue of it.’ And his answer to me was, ‘My collection is not worthy of a show.’ He was wrong, the only time he was wrong in his life. [three second pause] We at Corning are about the best. And if you can’t do the best paperweight show in the world, you shouldn’t be doing it. So who needs more enthusiasm than that, to go out and try to do it? So The Great Paperweight Show resulted from people. First of all, it was the ambassador, who I think was the most beautiful, lovely, intelligent, exciting person that I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve ever known in my life. And second, if all the other people—collectors, the dealers, the scholars, who helped us bring together this great show, which I know many of you saw, and I hope remember fondly. So the first thing that I would reminisce about is: it was an accomplishment of people. I was interested in looking at, or thinking about, the theme this morning, of a museum with an unlimited budget buying five paperweights. And I have to tell you that in my opinion, there is not one museum collection of paperweights in the world that resulted from a museum buying paperweights. Every great paperweight collection that exists in a museum in the world is the result of private collectors, who have bought and spent their own money, who have bought the best they could that they could afford, and assembled great collections, and then with the interest of sharing those collections with other people, have given them to museums. They haven’t sold them, they’ve given them. Every great collection in the world, there isn’t one that I can point to that is the result of a museum curator going out and assembling it. So the accomplishment is yours. You have the power, you have the kudos, you have the accomplishment. And we, the curators, can sit back and revel in that luxury of your accomplishment. So thank you to all of you.
Now, here’s the entrance to the show, as you all remember it. We called it, unabashedly, The Great Paperweight Show because we really intended it to be the best that was ever put on, and I think truthfully that it was the best. We had a teaser in the front of some of the best paperweights, and the basket of flowers—the great Clichy basket—was one of those in the front to pull you in. It was perhaps the most select single case that I have ever seen in my life, in any show in any display of paperweights. [seven second pause]
Now I think many of you know that I came to Corning with an intense dislike of paperweights. I say this every time, so that you’ll understand why I’m the convert, and thus I’m like a non-smoker who tries to convert everyone else to it. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful grandmother who collected everything, including paperweights, but the paperweights she collected were not very good. And by the time I graduated from college with an intense interest in collecting of all sorts of things I thought paperweights were really rather boring, because all I saw were rather modern, rather mediocre paperweights. And so when I interviewed at Corning for a job, the idea of being a curator of European glass appealed to me a lot, except I knew that paperweights would come along with it. And so I said to my potential boss, ‘If you can find somebody else to deal with paperweights, I’ll take the job.’ Well, what I didn’t know, of course, was the quality of paperweights—really good paperweights. What I had not seen were things like this—this piece on the screen now; the great encased yellow overlay, which the Ambassador Houghton paid a world record price for. By the time I started seeing his collection, understanding the extraordinary technology that 19th century paperweights represent, I was a convert, and I was off and running. In two short years from the day of my joining the museum, to the day that I was going to do the greatest paperweight show with the help of a lot of other people, for the world. So it’s weights like this that were the legendary weights, but also legendary for good cause. They’re the greatest of their kind. Now I had the great good sense to ask for the help of the leaders in the field. Paul Hollister, who is here, I immediately went to and said, ‘Would you like to work on this with us, to form the greatest group of weights that has ever been assembled?’ And he said yes. I also asked Tim Clarke if he would help me, and he said yes. So I had the good will and the backing of some of the greatest names in the field of paperweight studies in the world. [six second pause.]
[PH laughs over beginning of DL’s statement]
[Inaudible] I tried to find pictures of some of the other people, but Tim is the one that I have, he spoke at our conference that concluded The Great Paperweight Show, and he’s certainly one of the great scholars, one of the great teachers, and I think, probably the man who made the paperweight market, single-handedly. Now, from the beginning, our guideline for the show was not rarity. There are lots of paperweights that are rare for very good reason; there were mistakes when they were made, and somebody recognized it after doing one. [audience laughs] Somehow some of those have survived, and sometimes you pay a lot of money for those mistakes. But our guidelines were, first, the highest technical quality that we could find, because these are technical achievements of the 19th century, and second, aesthetic merit. Now, beauty is the eye of the beholder, but nonetheless there are certain things that I think most of us agree upon. So we concentrated on technology, we concentrated on aesthetics, and we tended to put rarity third on the list. We wanted to show the rare weights because that’s what most of us care to see; but at the same time, they couldn’t be [inaudible]. Now what we did was to assemble photographs, slides, Xeroxes of all the great books that have been written on paperweights. Things that simply caught our eye, and we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we had that?’
And here’s one of the ones that I photographed. This was one of the first in my wish list, one of the great Clichy weights, which has 66 rose canes in it, and here’s the photograph from Pat McCawley’s book. I hoped to find it. I hoped with this network, this increasing network of dealers and collectors, and scholars that we would have access to all of the great collections— realizing, of course, that a lot of weights that are published are in private collections, very private collections, which don’t want to see the light of day. They don’t want the notoriety, the knowledge of people, that these exist and where they are. But here’s one of the ones that I hoped to find, and indeed we found it, and when we found it, it was a wonderful weight. So that was in the show.
[Catalog #111] At the same time, I looked in vain for a wonderful amber dahlia that didn’t have a problem, and I’m sorry to say that I never found one. I think I saw four of them, and every blasted one of them had a broken petal, and to me, that destroyed the weight. This is the one that’s in our collection. They’re wonderfully rare, but there’s the example of a weight that I felt was technically flawed, flawed to the point that it should not be included. So as you’ll know, which you remembered from the show, we had no amber dahlia. [four second pause]
[Catalog #9] Now, did rarity ever reign? Yes. Rarity was certainly the reason, and the historical background of this weight, the dated 1853 weight which was found at the church of Baccarat. At that time, the only one known with that date, since then another one has turned up. It’s no different, really, from an 1846, a ’47, a ’48, whatever, but this is the one we chose. We felt we had to have a closepack, we had to have a closepack Baccarat, which is certainly the standard, classic weight, and that’s the one we chose because it is so historically interesting.
Now I traveled America, I traveled Europe to all the hardship posts that I could find. [audience laughs] And I must say, through the generosity of people like you, I had some of the greatest meals of my life. [audience laughs] If you want to envy one, anyone, envy me. I handled several thousand weights, the weights in the greatest collections in the world, public and private. I returned home from France having several great meals, one of which was at Maxim’s. I was promptly put in the hospital, [audience laughs] and seven days later I had my gallbladder out. [audience laughs.] I am still known in eating circles in Paris as ‘The American who had two pâtés in one meal.’[audience laughs]
I went to the showrooms of Baccarat, and of Saint-Louis, which provided us several masterpieces such as this newel post, which to me is still [inaudible] blue.
I went to the Musée des Arts et Métiers [Paris, France] which is not a museum on the standard American tour, but it is a museum that should be on your tour, because paperweight people, here is the entrance to it, an eighteenth-century Parisian building. In it among their treasures is a life-sized lion and serpent which was made in fiberglass. It was finished in 1855, before fiberglass curtains were ever dreamt of, after thirty years of work, here is this great fiberglass lion. And look at the detail—there’s a bee on the haunch of this lion, done in fiberglass. There’s lampwork to be amazed at.
[Catalog #187] They also have a small, but I think exceedingly interesting, collection of paperweights. Interesting because these paperweights were not bought, they were given, brand-new, by the manufacturers. Here is something that is called a ‘Venetian crown with pear,’ given by the Saint-Louis factory in 1853. No question about when it was made, or who made it, and so far as I am aware it is still the only one known. That was in the show, and there it is. It is an amazing piece, not only because of the pear on top, [PH comments to himself] but also because the twist is made of two different colors of aventurine: gold and green. It’s a wonderful object.
[Catalog #93] Maurice Lindon, one of the greatest collectors of paperweights in the world who previously owned the encased yellow overlay on this, and I’m sorry to report it’s rather an accident—and a very sad accident—that Maurice died just a few days ago. [audience sighs] Maurice was one of the most generous, wonderful people that I have ever met and provided me with one of those dinners that caused me to go to the hospital. [audience laughs] Here is one of the greatest weights in his collection, the celebrated moss-ground of Clichy. Not very different from the front, but turn it over, and there’s the only one known with the full name of Clichy on the back.
[Catalog #224] Here’s a weight—I feel like seconds warmed over tonight. [audience laughs] You’ve all seen most of these slides already, and I really could cut this lecture in half if I just pulled all the slides which you’ve already seen. But here’s one of the weights that I still think is magical, whether it’s been cut down or not. It is the weight that we chose for the show; we did not choose the other one. This one to me still has the magic of lampwork in it, even though it is but a fragment of its original form.
This is a weight that took Paul Hollister and me to Providence, Rhode Island. The meeting was arranged by Alan and Lynne Tillman. And I was warned in advance, since the Tillmans knew me very well, that this was a collector of red wine also. I love wine; I love good wines. So after looking at the paperweights, we had been invited to stay for dinner, and then we were going on to Sturbridge Village that night. So the question, ‘Would you like an Aperitif to have with your Clams Casino?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘What would you like?’ I said, ‘I’m driving, I’d like wine.’ ‘Red or white?’ And I said, ‘I know you have red wines that are wonderful. If you have a red wine that’s open, I’ll start with a red wine.’ He says, ‘Well, I don’t have one open, but I’ll run downstairs and get something that’s worthy of the occasion.’ So. [audience laughs] He went downstairs and he came up with a bottle of wine—this doesn’t focus, I don’t know if it’s in focus or not—
PH: Yes it is.
DL: Chateau Lafite Rothschild, 1953. That bottle would today bring $300. So up came this cold bottle of wine, he said, ‘Well I’m sorry, if you—If I knew that you liked red wine I would have had this ready and open,’ but he said, ‘Alright, we can break it.’ So out came the cork, we drank it out of tumblers, it was wonderful. The children came in who had prepared the Clams Casino and said, ‘What are we drinking tonight, Dad? ‘Oh, that’s one of the better ones,’ glug, glug, glug. [audience laughs] And that bottle disappeared like that. And he said, ‘Well, we’ll have to have another one. We’re not sure about the clams yet.’ Drinking red wine with clams, of course, is wrong, but nonetheless. So, he went downstairs and I said, ‘May I come with you?’ So we went down into this refrigerated wine cellar, which was glorious, and he said, ‘Well, we haven’t had this in a long time.’ Chateau Margaux, 1945, one of the fabled years of all of the history of wine. $500 today. I’ve checked on the wine prices these days. $500 for that bottle of wine. We glugged through that like it was Gallo. [audience laughs] It was great. Well, as we were about to leave the wine cellar he said, ‘I have one wine that is just unbelievable: Chateau Cheval Blanc. The top one.’ And he said, ‘Only one bottle in three is drinkable, the other two are wasted.’ He said, ‘If I’d known, I would’ve had a good bottle opened to have with our cheese after dinner.’ I said, you know, he already has the Margaux in his hand, what can I say? And he says, ‘Oh, to hell with it, we’ll take a chance.’ And so he grabbed this bottle of Cheval Blanc, and it was one of the best that he’d ever had in his life. And so I said to him at the end, I said, ‘Look, my wife will never believe me that I’ve had this wine. May I take the bottles and take the labels off?’ Because I collect labels also. And he said, ‘Of course.’ So we drove up—I still don’t know how we made it. [audience laughs] But anyway, we drove to Sturbridge, [other speaker laughs and PH comments, “I drove”] and I soaked the labels off leaving three bottles in my room, [audience laughs] and I wonder if Paul or I could ever go back? [audience laughs]
Well, the story continues. I had with me a catalogue of Sotheby’s auction at that point, and I brought it along to talk to Paul about some of the things that were coming up. And to keep these labels flat, I stuck them in the Sotheby catalogue, and I forgot all about them. And two weeks later, I was invited over to see Ambassador Houghton and to talk about what I had found on this great tour, and his first question was, ‘What have you seen?’ And I started telling him these wonderful stories, and he said, ‘How many friends did you make?’ And I told him about all these wonderful occasions. And he said, ‘How many enemies did you make by turning them down and not showing their weights?’ As the evening progressed, I handed him this catalogue because there were several weights in it that were just like the ones in his collection. I wanted him to see what an investment he had made in his weights, and I handed him the catalogue and he dropped it, and out fell these wine labels. I’d forgotten all about them. And I said, ‘Oh, I meant to tell you about that.’ And he says, ‘Yes, let me see what my curators are drinking these days.’ [audience laughs] Now he was the ambassador to France under Eisenhower, so he drank very good wines in Paris. And he picked up the Lafite, and he says, ‘Pretty good.’ And he picked up Margaux and he said, ‘I served that only at the best of the occasions in Paris.’ And he got to Cheval Blanc and he said, ‘And I’ve never had a bottle of that in my life.’ [audience laughs] And I thought I would have to take a cut in pay the next day. [audience laughs]
Now another story: I think most of you know that I’m a nut on salamanders. Salamanders, lizards, call them what you will. And this is one of the key ones, I thought. It had been published repeatedly and I thought it was one of the greatest. And so I was determined to find all of the salamander-lizard paperweights and to have them in our show, because I think they are still the greatest technological feats of paperweight makers, ever. [Catalog #284] So this is one that I had in my mind, and I kept saying to people—Tim Clarke, and to Paul, and to others—‘Who owns it?” We couldn’t find it. Well, we suddenly heard that there was a collector in New England who had a lizard. And I called her, and I said, ‘Do you have a red lizard paperweight?’ I said first, ‘Do you have a lizard paperweight?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Is it red?’ ‘No.’ ‘What color is it?’ ‘Black.’ I thought, well, it’s an unknown lizard, great, we found a new one, it’ll be a new contribution. So Paul and I arrive there, at the door of a wonderful house, and this wonderful lady met us at the door, wringing her hands. She said, ‘You’re going to hate me. Oh, I’m so sorry you’ve come all this long way, you’re going to hate me, oh, you’re never going to speak to me again.’ And she was so concerned I thought she was going to have a fit right there in front of us. And I said, ‘What is wrong?’ All I could figure was that she had dropped the weight, or somebody had stolen it, or something. And she said, ‘It isn’t black.’ And I said, ‘What color is it?’ And she said, ‘It’s green.’ [Catalog #279] So there was an unknown green lizard paperweight, one of the few that has two flowers. And that was in our show. She was very pleased when we didn’t hate her after all. [audience laughs] And that has recently entered a collection that I understand—that’s the one that has just sold for sixty thousand dollars.
Now, if you don’t like lizards—and I hope there are none of you who don’t like lizard paperweights—but nonetheless, there is a lot more to like about these paperweights than just the lizards, which are great technological feats. Look at the one at the Bergstrom Museum and look at the little bumblebee in it. Look at the wings. There is real wizardry in the 19th century, before we became so sophisticated in the technology of glass. [10 second pause]
[Catalog #280] Look at the wings on that bumblebee. It’s a fantastic creature. Look, too, at the flowers; they’re some of the greatest upright flowers and plants that you’ll ever see in any paperweight [PH speaks to himself over DL] Here’s another paperweight that I sought for. It was shown in Paul Jokelson’s One Hundred of the Most Important Paperweights, and it was listed as the collection of Clara Peck. Well, Clara Peck was in New York City, but she was not listed in the phone directory, and nobody could provide me with her telephone number. I could not find Clara Peck. Finally, talking with Louis Lyons, he got me in to meet her. Clara was one of the great collectors, lived in the Hotel Pierre in a suite, a magnificent suite, and she never left that suite. And the paperweight collection which she had were among her greatest friends. So in the end, I met her, we formed an instant liking—she was a charming, wonderful woman, and she allowed us to borrow seven weights, and that was it. I could choose any seven I wanted, but no more than that, because she said, ‘What am I going to do without my friends?’ She never got to see the show; she never even got to see the preview at Steuben, which is only three blocks away. She never came. But this is one of the weights that was in her collection, and I think it’s one of the magic weights of the 19th century.
During one of my meetings, we were talking about her weights and her other collections—western art and so forth, she loved animals—and she said, ‘I just wish I knew some museum that cared as much about paperweights as I do, because I’d like to leave them my collection.’ Well. [audience laughs] I had an idea. [audience laughs] And I’m pleased to say, sad at the same time, that she died in 1983, and she left us her entire collection of 162 paperweights, of which this is, I think, the most impressive of all. She also left us, unbeknownst to us, a quarter of her estate. She also left her western paintings to The Rockwell Museum in Corning, which is a wonderful collection of western art, and also a quarter of her estate. And we’re now using her estate funds, which amount to some two million dollars each museum, to acquire major objects in her name. So she’s done a wonderful thing for Corning, and, with her paperweights, has done a wonderful thing for you, that you can see some of the greatest weights that were in private hands, and now are on show publically.
Now here’s the show as it appeared in Corning. There were cases, lined with black velvet; the paperweights were shown on black velvet too, it’s just as you see them today in Corning. Now you know where we got our idea for our present paperweight display. Each case was a generic type, we had all the millefioris together, all the lampworks together, and so forth, so that you could really understand and learn about paperweights, and how they were made.
We also showed modern paperweights, so here was our case of modern paperweights, and we have some of the great masters of the day. Remember, this is 1978.
Our lasting contribution, the soul blood of the exhibition in the end, was the catalogue which Paul wrote and with my modest assistance. I think it still stands as one of the masterworks of paperweight literature. Unfortunately, it has now been out of print for about two years, and I’m both pleased and sad to see that it is now appreciating in value on the rare book market.
We also did, if you care to buy it by the yard, the paperweight poster; and you can paper anything from the bathroom on up. And this is the most popular poster that we’ve ever done, and it’s now in its third printing.
[Catalog #120] Now let’s look at a few of the weights that I think are the masterworks of the show. You’ve already seen this, I don’t have to tell you much more—it’s the great Clichy basket that Paul likes so much.
[Catalog #103] This is one of my favorites, even though Paul doesn’t like it as much as I do; I think of it as a sort of “cellophane balloon.” It’s the standard sort of bridal bouquet, wrapped in cellophane, tied with beautiful white ribbons, and sealed at the top with a wonderful red rose, pink rose, sticker. It is, to me, still a magical weight, and it’s still one-of-a-kind. This is a gift, also, of Clara Peck.
Clichy is my favorite, and here’s the weight also that you’ve seen, more like floral leis, carries the imagery of flowers into a paperweight better than any other weight that I know of.
We didn’t stop with paperweights. We showed paperweight objects. Dr. [Julius] Tarshis asked about the collecting of paperweight-related objects. I think it’s a vastly underrated field, and if you want inside information, start buying this sort of thing, because they’re superb quality and vastly underpriced. Here are a pair that were in our show that were then in Dan Turner’s collection. We only made a single one, which is in our current summer exhibition, which is glass shown at World’s Fairs between 1851 and 1904. The mate to these bottles was shown—we have a drawing of it, a print that was shown at the 1851 World’s Fair.
[Catalog #201] Here’s another one of my favorites—the Saint-Louis lily of the valley, which was recently sold at auction and entered the collection of Maurice Lindon. I think it’s perhaps the last weight that he bought.
[Catalog #212] I also attempted to find all types of encased overlays. I think these are also superb technological objects. They’re also wonderful objects to consider, I think, to see. They’re beautiful. This is the one that belonged to Paul Jokelson, which is a pink-on-white overlay, encased over a wonderful upright bouquet. The pink overlay was carved away, and then engraved with the figures of birds and hunting animals. I think it’s a remarkable achievement, and I’m especially proud that we encouraged the Saint-Louis factory to re-initiate the idea of encased overlays for our show.
Also magical objects, the Saint-Louis crown vases, with crowns not only in the paperweights, but also in the vases themselves. I think these are superb objects that stand up to the best of glass of the nineteenth century.
[Catalog #57] The Baccarat blue pompon—and I hope that you all know that these are no longer P-O-M-P-O-Ms, M as in ‘Mary’, P-O-M-P-O-M is a bomb, P-O-M-P-O-N as in Nancy, is a flower. Don’t call these ‘Pompoms’ anymore, please.
[Catalog #275] Another one from Clara Peck, now in our collection, this great Millville Rose, attributed to Whithall.
[Catalog #255] I think it’s one of the high points of American glass, and certainly of paperweights. New England Glass Company [PH excitedly reacts to himself] has seen a couple of the floral bouquets. This I think is glorious, not only for the quality of the flowers inside, but also the kind. It’s one of the real masterworks of American paperweight making.
Now, I think everybody has to say, ‘So what? You’ve gotten 400 paperweights together; you’ve relied upon everybody else’s knowledge, big deal. Well, the paperweight show did result in some new knowledge, and I’m very proud of that. This piece, which is in the Bergstrom Museum, was catalogued as quote “Origin Unknown.” As a result of the show, we were able to prove, I think conclusively, that this is in fact the product of the Bakewell factory of Pittsburgh, and can be dated 1825, and it’s still the most dramatic, most important surviving American sulphide of the 19th century.
Among the 20th century weights, I’ll just show two: Charles Kaziun’s wonderful morning glories on this yellow ground and the lattice background, and Paul Stankard’s spider orchid. I think the brunt of Paul and the other paperweight makers who are here that I’ve seen personally since 1978, there’s a great testimony to the importance of the show, and what it has done. I think people like Paul have progressed by leaps and bounds, whole orders of magnitude, in quality of work, and also idea since this Great Paperweight Show. And I hope that, partly, this show—this assemblage of great paperweights—led to this, this new development.
Now, after the show, what happened? Let’s look at some of the eight years that have followed. Well, one thing I return to the Musée des Arts et Métiers every time I get to Paris, and I keep looking for things. One of the things I’m looking for is that I know that they were given, in 1880, a paperweight which was described as, “Salamander and Flowers” by the Cristellerie de Pantin. I think you all know the story of the fourth factory, this ambiguous fourth factory, which usually meant Pantin. But there was nothing attributed to this factory. Well, I’ve been looking for this one paperweight, which I know they have, had at least, and been trying to find it because I know it was the key to understanding these salamanders or lizard paperweights. Well that weight seems to have been stolen, at least they claim it was stolen during the Second World War, [PH murmurs in dismay] but Tim Clarke and I missed a little further on in the entry of the catalogue, a serpent. It was called a “Serpent cut in spots,” which was shown at the 1878 Paris exhibition, and was given to the museum in 1880. Well, on my second trip after the show, there it was. Because of our visits, they increased the glass display by a factor of two, and suddenly, this wonderful serpent came out which was shown in 1878 and was important enough to be recognized in one of the authoritative accounts of the fair. It’s a glorious thing. Whether you like snakes or not, it’s glorious glass. It’s about that big—it was, roughly, life-sized for a small sized adder or whatever. But it’s wonderful glass workmanship, and to me, it provided the final clue that I needed to prove that paperweights such as this, which is our salamander or lizard, was in fact made by Pantin, at the Cristellerie de Pantin, in Paris, about 1878.
So I wrote an article on this for the [Paperweight Collectors’] Journal, and I hope that everybody now accepts the fact that there was, in fact, a fourth factory which we can now name, which is called the Pantin Factory, and I hope to hell nobody starts calling things “fifth factory.” [audience laughs]
But, here’s what to me would be a candidate for an unknown factory. I don’t see anything wrong with saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and this to me is one of the things I don’t know. I don’t know who made this. I’m convinced that that was not made by Pantin. It bears no relationship whatsoever to the great lizard weights. They are among the greatest weights that exist, these natural roses and the hare that Paul showed today, among the greatest paperweights that have ever been made. They are non-lead glass. My sneaking suspicion right now is that they’re Bohemian. No problem with that as far as I’m concerned. I know that most of you like French weights. I’m sorry but I don’t think it’s French. I don’t know who made it, but I just don’t think it’s Pantin. And thus please, do not in my presence at least, call it “fourth factory.”
Here’s another problem that arose: you thought I’d pass over this, didn’t you? [audience laughs] The great floral plaques. Paul called them Mount Washington in his book, and he recanted at the paperweight seminar that we had when this plaque turned up, which has Russian inscription on the back. Now anybody can put an inscription on any piece of glass that they want in any language that they want; the problem to me is that at least 2/3 of the pieces that relate to this, that are known, all have either Russian inscriptions or Russian histories. Maybe they were French exports, maybe they were European exports to Russia, I don’t see why they should be; I certainly don’t see why they have to be Mount Washington. And so as far as I’m concerned, and I paid the money to buy this piece, this is now in Corning, I’m calling it Russian. And it’s the old story, he who has the most marbles at the end wins. [audience laughs] Well, I have that—I own it, it’s not going to be for sale ever again, and I’m calling it Russian.
And I have to tell you that partly because of this weight; I went to Russia at Christmastime. A marvelous time to be in Russia, by the way. And I went to every museum I could find, talked to every glass colleague I could find, and kept producing pictures of this weight, saying, ‘Don’t you have more in your storage?’ The answer is no. But this is not surprising; the Russians don’t care about 19th century glass, period, unless it has the name “Faberge” attached to it. So, I think these plaques are probably littering some cemetery in Moscow, because I think that they are never-fading flowers, and the Russians love this sort of thing for their grave markers. And the back of ours is inscribed, ‘In Memory of Maria Shadnika’ so forth, so on; and I think they’re memorial plaques. And I think they were not paperweights; I think they were made as grave markers, and I can hardly wait to get back to Russia to start peering through—you think that looking at hotel windows is funny, [audience laughs] well, I’m going to start looking at cemeteries, and asking everybody who’s been in a Russian cemetery what they can find. But, the thing that is leading me to go back to Russia is, I’m pleased to announce that about a week ago, we signed an agreement with the Soviet Union to have a cultural exchange exhibition—we’re going to send American glass to Russia, and they’re going to send us an exhibition of Russian glass which will open in Toledo [Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio] at the very end of 1988, and will come to Corning for its great exposure in 1989. This is the first glass exhibition that we’ve ever done with the Soviet Union.
Now, another thing that came out of this Great Paperweight Show, many of the dealers and collectors said, ‘With a show like this, you’re going to stimulate the market. We need the shot in the arm, we’re delighted, the timing is absolutely right.’ And I think that we can look for better or worse back to The Great Paperweight Show as one of the turning points in the story of the price of paperweights. Here’s a great weight that turned up, I’m sorry to say, after the show; the great ‘Gingham’ paperweight, which belonged to Maurice Lindon, and which he paid $105,600 for. Now, there is another story on this. I saw the weight in London [at Christie’s], thought it was glorious, went to Paris, and met Roger Imbert, who’s one of the great dealers. We met early on, and he said, ‘I have one personal favor to ask you. Please, I know we’re going to see Maurice Lindon. I have a collector who would like this, do not say anything to Maurice.’ I said, ‘Fine, you’re my host, all I can do is honor your request.’ Maurice and I were met at my hotel by Roger in his car, who was taking us to a wonderful dinner, and we got in the car and Maurice sat down in the back—
[recording audio cuts off]
Dwight Lanmon finished the portion that was cut off in this recording in a correspondence with Barb Elam at Bard Graduate Center (6/15/2020). Dwight states: [as I recall] As Roger was about to drive off, Maurice yelled, “Stop!” I turned around, and he said, “I understand you’ve seen the weight at Christie’s. I want to know what you think? I gulped, looked at Roger, and said, “I think it’s the greatest paperweight I’ve ever seen.” Maurice said, “Thank you. Drive on, Roger!” At that point, Roger simply laid his head on the steering wheel.