Recently I came across a collection of old pictorial paperweights. Originally these would have been purchased as holiday souvenirs or presents brought back for a friend. They are like picture postcards under glass but a bit more interesting. The pictures are protected by the glass and they can be displayed in a case rather than hidden away in an album.
The earliest examples of these paperweights I have seen are from the Victorian era. These tend to be pebble shaped. I doubt that any exist which are earlier as the photographic technology was not available.
Some of these paperweights are from the earlier 1900s up to the 1930s and they are highlighted by mother of pearl detail. You cant really make it out in the photos but the examples here of Trafalgar Square, Wells and English Bridge Shrewsbury all have this additional feature. The windows look particular good just like they are glinting in the sunshine.
How old is my Pictorial Paperweight?
The biggest clue will be in the picture itself. What era is it from? Old photos can be reproduced however these Pictorial Paperweights are not yet valuable enough for them to be reproduced on a grand scale. Turn it over and look at the back – the older ones are backed by plain paper which is clearly not modern. The very oldest ones are monochrome although of course not every monochrome example is old.
Which paperweights to collect.
As mentioned above some have mother of pearl in them, personally I like these. Look for places you have been and love or would like to go. Or collect by theme – Bridges? Cathedrals? Seaside resorts would be fun. There are triangular paper weights which sit up and display very well.
Currently these are not expensive so its a great time to look out for them. Very few would be over £20 even the Victorian ones. Factors affecting how much they cost will be condition of the glass and condition of the photo. I have seen them from £2 upwards when in poor condition but it is likely that these are not worth bothering about unless its very rare and will do until a better example turns up.