The Surprising History (and Future) of Paperweights

Madame-colette-photographed-by-robert-doisneau-with-some-of-her-paperweights-in-1950.Chantel Tattoli at the Paris Review:

In the late forties, Jean Cocteau arranged for a young Truman Capote to have tea with Colette at her apartment in Paris. They did not manage to discuss literature; instead, Capote was moonstruck by the Frenchwoman’s collection of valuable antique paperweights, which she called “my snowflakes”:

There were perhaps a hundred of them covering two tables situated on either side of the bed: crystal spheres imprisoning green lizards, salamanders, millefiori bouquets, dragonflies, a basket of pears, butterflies alighted on a frond of ferns, swirls of pink and white and blue and white, shimmering like fireworks, cobras coiled to strike, pretty little arrangements of pansies, magnificent poinsettias.

Colette suggested she might take them with her in her coffin, “like a pharaoh.” When she gave a Baccarat with a single white rose inside to Capote, he caught the fever. He sought paperweights at auctions in Copenhagen and Hong Kong. Once, he found a four-thousand-dollar weight in a junk shop in Brooklyn for which he shelled out just twenty bucks. In East Hampton, he successfully bid seven hundred dollars for a millefiori (“the real thing,” “an electrifying spectacle”) worth seven grand.

more here.