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Baccarat, arguably the leading crystal maker in the world, was founded in 1764 by Monseigneur de Montmorency-Laval outside the town of Baccarat in the Alsace-Lorraine district of northern France. Founded to produce utilitarian glass such as bottles and window glass, it was originally named Verrerie de Sainte Anne. In 1816 M. Aime Gabriel d’Artigues purchased Verrerie de Sainte Anne, and a furnace was lit for the production of lead crystal. In 1823 under new owners, the factory name was changed to its current one, Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat. Under the leadership of Pierre-Antoine Godard, Baccarat became the leading French crystal company. Baccarat paperweight production probably began by 1844, though dated examples did not appear until 1846. Production was strong for the next decade then gradually diminished through the 1860s.
A few simple millefiori weights were made at Baccarat in 1946. Then in 1952 Paul Jokelson approached them with the idea of making sulphide weights again. The following year, 1953, the renaissance of paperweight making at Baccarat began. They released their first sulphide weights since the nineteenth century that year, after a considerable amount of trial and error rediscovering the process they had not used in close to a century. The first millefiori weights were made in 1957, and lampwork subjects followed later. They made some sulphide subjects and simple concentrics in large numbers for the gift shop market. After a decade or more of refining their millefiori and lampwork skills, better, more complicated designs started being produced as annual limited editions in 1970. These continued through 2002, when weight production again ceased.
Excerpted from The Dictionary of Glass Paperweights, Paul H. Dunlop, Papier Presse 2009.