Estimated at £800-1200 in the September 7 Selections and Collections sale at Rogers Jones & Co (18% buyer’s premium inc VAT), this French Baccarat close-packed millefiori paperweight sold for £12,000 to a UK private bidder from Somerset on the phone against a US online underbidder.
It all boiled down to one of those classic saleroom battles that leave auctioneers very satisfied indeed: a simple case of two collectors both absolutely determined to win, driving the hammer price ever upwards.
The paperweight certainly had its attractions, however. Dated to the interior 1847, with the initial B, inset with bright, multicoloured cane animal and birds, including horse and cockerel, and of 4½in (11cm) diameter, the 3lb item had a couple of very small chips and a few surface scratches, but was largely in excellent shape.
It had been found during a house clearance in a suburb of Cardiff called Dinas Powis.
Baccarat as a firm began in 1776 in Alsace-Lorraine under the name of Verrerie de Sainte Anne.
Collectors refer to three periods of Baccarat paperweight production, with 1845-60 regarded as the ’classic period’, so 1847 is a desirable early date.
“Like a lot of things in demand in the industry now, it was a little bit quirky, it had the date, a really good size and beautiful condition – just an outstanding example of its type,” says Rogers Jones.
Many Baccarat millefiori paperweights c.1846-48 sell in the region of £500-1000 for the best examples.
In April 2016 Christie’s sold a Baccarat close-packed millefiori paperweight dated 1846, for a premium-inclusive $2125 (then about £1455), although it was smaller than the Rogers Jones example at 3in (7.5cm) diameter.
France was the epicentre of paperweight production, with the most sought-after examples for collectors today those made by Baccarat, Saint Louis, Clichy and Pantin.
A Clichy basket paperweight sold for a phenomenal $258,500 at Sotheby’s in New York in 1990.