three hundred years of collectable glass in one day

The Cambridge Glass Fair


Foyer Exhibition:
september 2012

Victorian dumps and contemporary American paperweights

The September 2012 foyer exhibition promises to be a little different from usual, with one cabinet housing a collection of Victorian dumps which is part of the collection of Peter Sellers, and a display of contemporary American paperweights provided by the Paperweight Collectors Circle in the other.

Peter Sellers is the author of the comprehensive volume 'Victorian Dumps, Paperweights, Mantel Ornaments, Doorstops and Whimsies 1820-1914' which was published in 2009.

The book covers this large and diverse subject in a most interesting fashion, giving insights into the origins of these often remarkable objects with uses ranging from the very practical to the purely decorative.

It is generally accepted that the majority of these unsophisticated objects were made by bottle glass makers during the period between 1820 and 1914, prior to the mechanisation of the industry. The name 'dump' was derived from the fact that they were made at the end of a day's work from 'dumped' or waste glass.

Rare dumps and ornaments from the collection of William Drew Gaskill

To the right can be seen a collection of rare dumps and ornaments of varying types. Included here are is a large multi-tiered floral dump, an exceptional example of the glassblower's art in a dump featuring twenty-nine internal tin-foil flowers, a smaller piece which contains a ceramic 'putto' figure and another rare mantel ornament which boasts a very idioyncratic inclusion - that of the visage of 'Ally Sloper', so-called 'Friend of Man'.

From the 1880s - 1920s Ally Sloper was a popular cartoon character among the working classes. He featured in the 'penny dreadfuls' of the time and was a drunken, red-nosed, badly behaved personage in the style of the later Andy Capp.

With only a very limited number of copies of the book now available for sale, Peter will be bringing along some CD discs of the full book and reviews that can be read on a computer screen. These will be offered for sale at a discounted price of £10 per copy (normally £20).

The Paperweight Collectors Circle is based in Cambridge where it holds several meetings for members throughout the year. It also produces a regular newspaper.

A 1995 millefiori Clichy cane concentric on turquoise ground weight

The PCC always attends the fair and offers a 'paperweight identification' service to anyone who cares to bring along something they would like more information about.

They are featuring various types of contemporary American weights in their display, ranging from lampwork to millefiori, and there will be items from some of the best known makers for visitors to peruse.

Many of these pieces are outstanding examples of the skilled and intricate work achieved by the top-flight makers in the USA today. It will be truly unmissable chance to see a wonderful selection from the PCC.

There will be examples of faceted weights, magnums, miniatures, basket weights, overlays and crowns as well as samples of cane work. Thirty American makers will be represented with approximately 45 weights plus samples of canes.

American glass making owes it roots to the immigration of workers from Europe. It is thought that the first American paperweights appeared in around 1851 after the Crystal Palace Exhibition, and were made by the New England Glass Company, Sandwich Glass, Cambridge Glass, Mount Washington Glass Company and Millville. Most of these manufacturers were based in the New England area.

Moving into the 21st century, American paperweight making has now spread the length and breadth of the USA. Modern American paperweight makers are mainly studio artists, some of whom have been inspired by the classic antique millefiori paperweights made by Bacchus, Baccarat and St Louis. Artists such as Jim Brown, Drew Ebelhare, William Burchfield (Cape Cod Glassworks)and Gary and Doris Scrutton (Parabelle Studio) made classic millefiori weights in the style of Clichy. This last studio closed in 1998. More recently new young artists such as Jim Hart and Damon MacNaught have also started making millefiori paperweights.

Principally, most American artists are using the slugs of optical glass to encase intricate and delicate

Part of the dump exhibition

lampwork designs. Paul Stankard is recognised as one of the leading lampwork artists today and he is the inspiration for many lampwork artists.

Some of the well known lampwork paperweight makers are Rick Ayotte, Melissa Ayotte, the Banford family (Ray, Bob and Bobbie), Chris Buzzini, Jim Donofrio, Randall Grubb, Cathy Richardson, Colin Richardson, Ken Rosenfedl, David Salazar, Delmo and Debbie Tarsitano, Mayauel Ward and Francis Whittemore.

In all, there will be some 100 plus weights and dumps on display, forming a well-rounded look at these two important areas of paperweight collecting.

Both Peter and the members of the PCC will be on hand and delighted to speak about the items in the exhibition and to answer visitors' questions.


exhibition highlights

  • A unique mantel ornament internally dated 1886 and with a delicate butterfly hovering over a flower.
  • A trio of rare dumps made from 'end of day' blue poison bottle glass.
  • A number of lampwork weights by the celebrated maker Paul Stankard.
  • A blue and silver-flowered dump from the mid 1860's.
  • Floral lampwork weights by Mayauel Ward and Randall Grubb among others.
  • A large mantel ornament containing 27 internal flowers, the second-highest number of flower inclusions known.



Note: All images supplied by Peter Sellers and the Paperweight Collectors Circle.


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