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Paperweights Millville Rose

The glass paperweight known as the Millville Rose had for its origin a technique probably first used by the old Venetian glass workers. It was that of embedding a pattern of colored glass within a casing of clear glass. The process became known in other parts of Europe and was finally introduced in America by the skilled craftsmen imported by such glass houses as Sandwich and Cambridge in the second half of the nineteenth century.

It has long been the custom of the individual glass worker to use the left-over glass in the pot at the end of the day to fashion pieces for his own amusement. The workers in the factory of Whitall, Tatum, & Company, at Millville, New Jersey, makers of chemical and pharmaceutical glassware, were experimenting with the making of paperweights in their free time as early as' the 1880's. They even created a paperweight with a rose motif, but this was quite unlike the paperweight with the standing rose design which came to be known as the Millville Rose.

The Millville Rose paperweights were the creation of four glass workers: Ralph Barber, Emil Stanger, Marcus Kuntz, and John Rhulander. All were excellent craftsmen but Ralph Barber was the foremost. After six years of experimentation with colored glass for the rose, he found the right type at a factory in Brooklyn which permitted the standing full-blown rose to be annealed without cracking.

The four men not only made these paperweights as gifts but also produced them to sell as a private venture. Barber continued to make them after the others had withdrawn, his years of production being from about 1905 to 1912. He lived until 1936 and had the unusual experience of seeing his rose paperweights, originally priced at $1.50 each, command as much as $500 for a single fine example.

Barber modeled his roses with opalescent tips to the petals which are always shown fully open. The blooms vary from a rich red to a delicate pink. The finest and rarest are those accompanied by a bud and a leaf. He also produced some of canary yellow, green, or other shades which resulted accidently from the high annealing temperatures. In addition to his roses, he made some weights with other motifs: calla lilies, water lilies, and tulips. In all of these, the flower is represented in full bloom.

Barber's paperweights are completely different from those of any other glass craftsman. Although they were a product of their maker's spare time, since his regular work was the manufacture of special glassware for druggists and laboratories, these flower paperweights are unique and still defy reproduction.

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