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September 1, 2011

Glass Worlds

The ROM gift shop is one of my favourite local bookstores, and I covet several volumes from their collection. And it was to my great joy that last weekend I acquired a prized one, Glass Worlds: Paperweights from the ROM’s Collection by Brian Musselwhite (who has the best name ever). The book is a catalogue from the ROM’s 2007 paperweight exhibition, much of which is still on show, actually, tucked away in the northeast corner of the building on the 3rd floor– I suspect I am its most frequent visitor. I find the paperweights absolutely beautiful, and I’m fascinated by the juxtaposition of the dullness of their utility with their absolute unnecessary-ness at the same time. As well as their extravagance.

Musselwhite notes that their popularity grew with growth of literacy, and the popularity of letter-writing. Before most homes were outfitted with electricity, desks would be placed near windows for the best light, but with windows come breezes, hence the paperweight. Though Musselwhite points out that many other objects could have served its purpose: “Most likely, as the Victorians spent so much time at their desks, they wanted to look at something beautiful.”

One thought on “Glass Worlds”

  1. m says:

    I worked at a high end antique store that specialized in jewellery, silver and paintings, but we did have a couple of gorgeous Venetian glass paperweights that were from the Victorian era. So beautiful. I would stare at them for a very long time.

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