paperweights: Val St. Lambert, antique

Val St. Lambert, Belgium is not as well-known as its French counterparts, but they made many beautiful weights in designs not previously attempted. Good quality antique Val St. Lambert weights are difficult to find. Their weights were normally larger than others and more half-domed shaped, making the design fill the entire space of the weight with bright colors, from any perspective in the room.

Dunlop in The Dictionary of Glass Paperweights, knows of weights made at Val St. Lambert as early as circa 1850. He references several periods of glass paperweight production, most of which was off the books, meaning the weights were made by glass workers on their lunch hour or after hours as a way to make some extra money and as enjoyment. They knew of the work being done in France and not doubt wanted to try out their skills on these exciting innovations. Concerning the weights I have listed here, Dunlop writes: “The weights most associated with this maker are large weights, with a flat base, usually with the design set on a colored ground, having a twisted ribbon torsade at the edge. We believe these were made in the early 1900s. These are known in relatively small numbers, indicating they were ‘lunchbox’ or ‘off-hand’ weights. Very few duplicates are known.”

I will add here that as a very close observer of the paperweight market over more than a decade, I believe these to be rare, especially the great ones like these.

ABOVE: PW793. Val St. Lambert, Belgium Magnum Museum Piece, circa 1910.

Super bright and gemmy translucent green. A fabulous splash of refreshing color. Flat base with an indentation where the green cushion sits. The pontil is ground and polished and concave and this one has script engraving Val St. Lambert. It seems to suck the light out of the air. Condition is excellent with shelfwear. 3 ½ inches in diameter; 2 ¼ inches tall; one pound and fourteen ounces. $450

ABOVE: PW3144. Val St. Lambert, Belgium Magnum Museum Piece, circa 1890- 1900. Three ring concentric with double twisted white torsade on a bright and delicious cranberry candy semi-translucent ground. Flat base with a bit of rough pontil remaining. Excellent original condition. 3 3/4 inches in diameter; 2 3/16 inches tall; two pounds and three ounces. $450

ABOVE: PW3145. Val St. Lambert, Belgium Magnum Museum Piece, circa 1900- 1910. Loose two ring concentric on a crystal with splattered white ground. Flat base with a bit of rough pontil remaining. The base has shelfwear and the dome is in excellent condition. 3 3/4 inches in diameter; 2 3/16 inches tall; two pounds and two ounces. $425

ABOVE: PW3153. Val St. Lambert, Belgium Magnum Museum Piece, circa 1890- 1900. Five cross canes within a spectacular, colorful pattern, on dreamy yellow ground. It has two torsades: one is white with spiraling filigree and sits between the center cane and the outer canes and the other is multi-colored and circles the edge of the base. Flat base with a ground and polished concave pontil. Excellent condition. 3 5/8 inches in diameter; 2 inches tall; one pound and thirteen ounces. $850

ABOVE: PW3153. Val St. Lambert, Belgium Magnum Museum Piece, circa 1890- 1900. Five cross canes within a spectacular, colorful pattern, on dreamy yellow ground. It has two torsades: one is white with spiraling filigree and sits between the center cane and the outer canes and the other is multi-colored and circles the edge of the base. Flat base with a ground and polished concave pontil. Excellent original condition. 3 5/8 inches in diameter; 2 inches tall; one pound and thirteen ounces. $850

ABOVE: PW3043. Val St. Lambert high-dome five garlands within a 25-cane ring on opaque pink color ground Museum piece, c. late nineteenth century.

Due to the Clichy canes and pink color ground, I was leaning toward this being a Clichy but I had some doubt, mostly due to the unusual shape, so I asked Paul Dunlop, who knows as much as anyone about unusual French weights and this is his answer:

The weight you sent me a photo of is a Val St. Lambert with canes which came from Pantin. I have several in my collection. My thought is that a Clichy worker moved on to Pantin when Clichy stopped making weights and did a decent number of weights there. Either he later moved on to Val St. Lambert or his canes did, as these weights date from a couple of decades later.

So there you have it. That’s what makes this stuff so interesting – beauty and history. The base is flat and the dome is higher than you see in a Clichy and the color ground is more domed than we see on Clichys by substantial degree. The setup is a bit lopsided (see images). One garland is centered by a pink rose, one with an edelweiss cane, and another has seven pink roses encircling a red-centered green cane. The weight is in perfect condition. It was professionally polished. You can see an anomaly in the base which is nothing to worry about – it’s a stretched out bubble. 3 3/16 inch diameter (to be a true magnum it would need to be 3 ¼); 2 7/16  inches tall; one pound, seven ounces. SOLD