4 Ways Paperweights Evolved Over the Years

Paperweights existed since the mid-1800s. Since then, it has gone through a lot of changes. The way people perceive and use it has changed over the years. There have been changes in the design and making as well. Here are the ways paperweights evolved over the years.

Ancient glassworks in Europe

Paperweights first appeared in the mid-1800s in Europe. It is found that Venetian glassmaker Vitro Bigaglia was the first one to make a paperweight using ancient glasswork for the Vienna Industrial Exposition in 1845.

In the Great Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations organized by Prince Albert of England, most of the items that were displayed were paperweights.

The two major exhibitions played a great role in making people familiar with paperweights. After these exhibitions, other countries outside Europe started making paperweights.

Luxury and functional items

feature image 4 Ways Paperweights Evolved Over the Years Luxury and functional items - 4 Ways Paperweights Evolved Over the Years

In the 19th century, paperweights were considered luxury items. Many glasshouses started making them, using revived techniques. However, they were economical and useful as letter writing was very common during that time and people used paperweights often.

So, paperweights did two things at that time; it helped to decorate the house and keep paper organized. The Americans started to show interest in making paperweights during this time.

New techniques

New techniques for making paperweights were introduced. The artistic aspect of paperweights was given importance. So, manufacturing paperweights moved from factories to studios.

People started making paperweights using non-traditional techniques. During this time, paperweights were considered a decorative piece rather than utilitarian.


Contemporary paperweights have many varieties. You can get paperweights in the form of orbs, vessels, sculptures, and more. The artists get inspiration from the earlier paperweight manufacturers.

Some artists now create a miniature world inside paperweights using techniques like furnace-working or flameworking techniques.

Some paperweight artists are holding onto the tradition and working on classical designs, while others are taking risks and coming up with new designs. Many people now like collecting paperweights.

They collect it as a decorative item or simply as a hobby to keep different varieties of paperweights.