How to Identify Antique Paperweights

By Linda Woolhether ; Updated April 12, 2017
Identifying antique paperweights is a challenge.

Antique paperweight collectors enjoy the thrill of searching for classic era weights, but the search requires knowing about the qualities to look for and understanding what makes an antique paperweight valuable. Collectors should also research the current market before investing valuable time and a large sum of money in acquiring an antique paperweight. Educate yourself by reading materials written by experts and examine examples in person whenever possible. The challenge of identifying an authentic antique paperweight is in understanding that several factors play a role in the identification process.

Examine your piece with a good magnifying glass and make notes about particular marks or carvings to use when researching it in expert publications. Keep in mind that for an object to be considered an antique it typically must be at least 100-years-old, paperweights of that age will show wear and tear. Even an item in top condition will show its age regardless of how well it was preserved.

Consider distinguishing characteristics to help differentiate ordinary antique paperweights from those that are rare. Be familiar with types of colors and color combinations that were routinely used during the time of an antique paperweight's manufacture to determine if the materials used to make the paperweight in question are commonly or rarely used in modern-day productions.

Examine the details of the paperweight to see if it appears to be hand-painted or created by a machine. If it is made of wood, determine how thick the wood pieces appear. Older pieces of wood veneer are much thicker than modern pieces. Look for nails that are irregularly shaped or squared-off pegs that were commonly used long ago.

Search your guidebook to determine styles used for paperweights during that particular time period. Determine whether or not carvings and details on the piece were done by hand or if they appear to be machine-crafted. Hand-carved items will not be identical. Look for signature techniques and trademark patterns used by the manufacturer, which appear in the authoritative guidebooks. Trademark designs such a "crown" are indicative of certain times and manufacturers.

Things Needed

  • Encyclopedias of antiques
  • Paperweight authoritative guide
  • Magnifying glass

Tip

Familiarize yourself with manufacturing processes by reading expert guides and viewing examples prior to investing in an antique paperweight to make certain you are buying the "real thing" and not a replica.

Warning

Experts recommend examining antique articles in person before purchasing.

About the Author

Linda Woolhether is a retired teacher born in Texas, but now resides in Wyoming. Her career as a reading and writing teacher spanned 20-plus years. She holds a Master of Arts in education in curriculum and instruction and is experienced in various types of writing. She was successful in writing several educational grants while teaching. Completing a novel is presently her goal.