Murano, page 1
Museum Quality Art Glass

Murano, page 1

Venetian/Murano paperweights. Venetian/Murano paperweights have an amazing range of  quality and historical interest, making the best of them highly collectible and valuable. As with all paperweight-making locations there are good and bad – this is even true of antique French weights, generally considered to be the most valuable and collectable. Since Venice and Murano have a centuries long history of producing glass and have catered to the tourist market, they have produced a great many poor and mediocre glass paperweight. Dozens if not hundreds of individual makers and glass houses have operated there, some for short periods and some for decades. Many Murano weights are fabulous— as nice as those from other great glass producing locales. It was the paperweight of a Venetian at the Vienna Exposition in 1845 that started the whole paperweight phenomenon. Some early Italian weights are excellent and of historic interest, and the many made in the early to mid 20th Century show particularly good craftsmanship and artistry. I am a fan of the crowns, complex millefiori closepacks, and concentric weights from that period. One reason there is less interest in collecting Italian paperweights is because there is no book about them. It is difficult to impossible to find reliable information about most Italian weights – including the time frame in which they were made and the name of the artist or factory. If the weight has a label, that can help, however most of the labels we see are from the importer who will like carry goods from more than one glass maker. Identification by canes is also difficult since frequently canes made by one maker were sold to other makers for use in their paperweights. This confusion presents an opportunity for collectors to obtain really well made older weights at great prices. All you need to do is to be content with the fact that they are made in Murano, one of the greatest glass centers on the planet, and not worry about placing a label of the maker on them. From this perspective you can collect by type and occasionally by maker. WARNING #1: most paperweights you see advertised as Venetian or Murano are actually cheap glass products made in China – inexpensive glass paperweights have been imported to Italy from China since at least the 1930s and sold as genuine Murano to unsuspecting tourists because the Italian merchants could get them for far less than the cost of making them or purchasing them from local glass makers. These Chinese imports easy to tell in most cases because the quality of the glass and workmanship is not as good as real Muranos (although the newest ones are getting pretty good). The Chinese copies often have “Made in Murano” labels, are signed with Italian-sounding names, and/or come in nice boxes with Italian-sounding makers names. Some brand new Chinese weights are intentionally “aged” by rubbing the bases on cement an sold as “antique” or “vintage”. WARNING #2: Many of the weights sold as “Fratelli Toso”, although often made in Murano, were not made by Fratelli Toso.


What you need when purchasing Italian weights  is either a lot of personal knowledge and experience or a dealer you trust who has the requisite knowledge and experience. I have handled a great many Murano weights and I think I have a pretty good knowledge base on them. I guarantee that any weight I sell is genuine. Since there are very few resource materials concerning Italian paperweights, the question of dating them is difficult. They have been made from the 1840s to present. I will endeavor to give an estimate based on my experience and research in most instances. WARNING #3:  You often see Italian weights with date canes. A dated 1845-47 weight by Pietro Bigaglia (1786-1876) can have a five-figure value, but almost all Italian weights with 19th century date canes that you see are fake.


Label: E & R Italy – This is the importer Ebeling and Reuss of Philadelphia, founded in 1886. They imported Italian paperweights probably beginning in the 1950s and ending in the 1990s, including Fratelli Toso and others.

Importer label KB (“An Original Creation by KB Made in Italy”) silver and blue foil sticker is the sticker of the importer, Koscherak Brothers of New York and dates a paperweight to 1960s- 1970s.


If you have additional information about a maker, importer, or dates, please let me know. As always, let me know if you have any questions.   


click here for a comparison of Murano and Chinese weights

PW3221. 7 1/2 INCH DIAMETER Murano Magnum Hand Blown Tutti Frutti Museum Piece. This is a bit different from the normal Murano weight. For one thing, it’s enormous. For another, it was actually blown (most are not). We all have different tastes in art, but to my eye this is one of the most amazing paperweight style glass art pieces I have owned or seen. It’s been on display in my living room for years. The pictures tell the story – fabulous canes with abundant aventurine that peeks out from all quarters. It’s exciting and always a conversation piece. I believe the maker is AVEM ( Arte Vetraria Muranese) but am not certain. They were in business from 1932-1976. My estimate for this is 1930s-1960s. The design is colorful, eye-catching, and intricate. Condition is excellent and original, which is super rare for these. These are rare and most of the few I have seen have damage – note that it is hollow yet still heavy. The base has a black glass plug with a hole to allow for expansion of the air inside in hot conditions.  –7 1/2 inch diameter; 4 inches tall; six pounds and six ounces. $825

PW963. Murano Crown Museum Quality Piece. This is a vintage Murano crown weight (circa 1920s-1950s – possibly older) with a flat polished base. Elegant rich red and aventurine ribbons spaced with double-twisted filigree. Note that the aventurine is a separate strand from the red and was added prior to the twisting. You do not often see this design. Condition is excellent. Heavy with smooth flat polished base. It has a rich feel to it. It has a two stickers on the base, one appears to be the original but it’s faded and all you can read is “N. [SPACE] Made in Italy.” The other sticker is newer and has what I call a coin dealer’s code (NSRR) which is a set of letters and numbers (usually just letters) the dealer used as a code to how much he or she paid for it. 3 1/8 inch diameter; 2 3/4 inches tall; one pound and six ounces. $100

PW2189. Murano, Italy.  Concentric closepack over an aventurine ground. This is a high dome weight, probably by Fratelli Toso, and quite old – I estimate it’s from the 1920s-1940s. It has a concave base with a pontil mark. Condition is excellent with some minor signs of wear. 3 1/8 inch diameter; 2 3/4 inches tall; one pound, six ounces. SOLD

PW2549. Murano Museum quality. An elegant blue rose from the masters of Murano. It is a mix of blue and white in the style of a crimp rose with a set of three well-made green leaves. Faceted with four and one and a flat polished base. Condition is excellent. 2 15/16 inch diameter; 2 ¼ inches tall;  one pound.  $35

PW2407. Murano Magnum Museum Piece. Stunning concentric closepack in the style of Baccarat and Clichy. The closely packed colorful canes sit atop a multicolored ground. Flat polished base. I believe the maker is either Fratelli Toso or AVEM ( Arte Vetraria Muranese) but am not certain. My estimate for this is 1920s-1950s. Condition is excellent. It is a stunning paperweight. 3 1/4 inch diameter; 2 5/8 inches tall; one pound and nine ounces.  $110

PW2492. Murano Museum Piece. Stunning closepack in the style of Baccarat and Clichy. The closely packed colorful canes sit atop a multicolored ground. Flat polished base. I have seen these offered for sale as Clichy. I believe the maker is AVEM ( Arte Vetraria Muranese) but am not certain. They were in business from 1932-1976. My estimate for this is 1930s-1950s. Condition is excellent. It is a beautiful paperweight. 3 3/16 inch diameter; 2 5/8 inches tall; one pound and eight ounces.  $100