In the days before air-conditioning, offices had windows. Eventually, offices got fans. But paper, windows and fans can be a risky combination. Paperweights were standard-issue equipment in every office—of every variety and strata.
Paperweights came in all manner of styles. Railroad magnates might enjoy a fancy, expensive, sculpted-bronze masterpiece by Tiffany. The billing clerk at the fruit wholesaler might employee an old, worn horseshoe. Everyone in-between would use an appropriate paperweight which comports to their industry, budget and the aesthetic sophistication of their office.
A good paperweight must satisfy several criteria. First, it must be weighty. Stone or metal are typically heavy for their size, making them appropriate paperweight materials. They should be small-ish—so that they don't obstruct (or hide) too much of the document they are meant to pin-down. Paperweights should be fairly easy to pick-up with one hand. And, if one is aesthetically inclined, a paperweight should look good—or, more specifically, it should look suitable to the environment in which it will be used.
Are paperweights still needed today? Well, not as much as they once were. Offices tend to be air conditioned today; no more open windows or spinning fans. And we have been promised (for decades) that "the paperless office is just around the corner." So we don't need a paperweight very much anymore. But let's not discount the emotional satisfaction of anchoring a pile of papers with a handsome weight. It signals an act of finality—perhaps completion—as we organize our desktop before leaving for the evening or for the weekend.
The paperweight, shown above, is simple, handsome and elegant. There is not much to the shape: a rectangular slab with chamfered top edges. Its beauty lies in the handsome, variegated marble. Elegant—but not showy—it will hold-its-own without calling vulgar attention to itself. Because it's a simple, unadorned stone, it is hard to date it precisely. The raw stone could be hundreds of thousands of years old. From the general appearance and style of the paperweight, my best guess is that it's from the Forties. Light, age-appropriate wear confirms that basic conclusion. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248