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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Glass Paperweights Beat Estimates to Make £574,080 at Bonhams

The auction of ‘Fine Paperweights from the collection of the late Baroness de Bellet’ held on 19 May 2010 at Bonhams, New Bond Street made an outstanding £574,080 with 95% sold by value. Bidders in the UK were competing against other interested parties in the USA, Europe and Israel.

The top lot of the day was a fine and rare Clichy double paperweight c.1850 which sold for £67,200 against a pre-sale estimate £6,000-8,000. French paperweights were highly sought after in the saleroom with a rare Clichy convolvulus example selling for £28,800 (£3,500-4,500), and a Clichy stylised bouquet paperweight fetching £21,600 (£6,000-8,000).

Collected in America, London and more recently held in Switzerland, the group spans three generations of a family of collectors and contained many beautiful floral and millefiori designs of outstanding beauty and exquisite detail.

The Baroness’ grandfather, Frederick Hunting Howell, initially assembled the exceptional collection in the 1920s when paperweights were not in vogue. He was a New York financier and favoured paperweights of mid 19th century French and American design, such as Boston & Sandwich flower examples. Frederick moved to London where he subsequently left the collection to his son in law, Nello de Facci Negrati. Nello was of Venetian origin and as the manufacture of French paperweights was inspired by his Italian forefathers, he became especially interested in this subject, adding a fine Venetian millefiori example by Pietro Bigaglia, dated 1845 which sold today for £9,600. He continued to add to the collection, focusing on weights from the French Classic Period (1845-53), especially those from the great factories of Baccarat and Clichy which also fared well in the saleroom.

Several rare large Mount Washington paperweights were also the subject of competitive bidding. The most expensive sold for £24,000 against a pre-sale estimate of £10,000-15,000. The Mount Washington firm flourished in America in the mid-19th century, and these weights are known for their large size – some as big as 11cm in diameter.

The sale followed on from the equally successful auction of Fine British and European Glass and Paperweights in the morning which made £510,840, bringing the total for glass sales today to over £1million.

Simon Cottle, Departmental Head of Glass and Continental Porcelain comments, “Today’s outstanding results further consolidate Bonhams as the leading auction house for the sale of fine antique glass and paperweights. As the only international saleroom to hold dedicated sales in these subjects we are delighted that in less than two years Bonhams has become the world’s market leader in these two categories.”