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Caithness Glass Ltd., was founded in 1961 in the northern town of Wick, Scotland. Making novelties for the gift shop trade, it now has close to three hundred employees working in three factories, making glass under their own name and the name Edinburgh Crystal. Paul Ysart worked there as a training officer from 1963, and his making weights there on the weekends and after hours, exposed Caithness workers to the craft. Colin Terris, who joined the company in 1968, saw the potential of making weights for gift shops. Most of these weights are abstract combinations of blobs of colored glass and bubbles, with names which are often more creative than the weights. These paperweights are signed on the base and sometimes have a CG cane.
When Whitefriars went out of business in 1981, Caithness bought the rights to use the Whitefriars name, logo, stock of millefiori canes, and extensive color library. Since 1983 Caithness has done a line of traditional millefiori weights. These Caithness/Whitefriars weights however, bear little resemblance to original Whitefriars weights, being rather anemic in appearance. The date included in the design, will indicate if it is an original Whitefriars, or later Caithness/Whitefriars piece.
Though most of their weights are of the gift shop variety, there have been better weights made here which are worthy of a collection. The first of these being those made by Paul Ysart, at Caithness. These are unsigned but often bear the Caithness Glass paper label on the base. Other top Scottish weight makers have worked of and on at Caithness over the years, most notably William Manson and Peter Holmes. Good traditional lampwork designs; flowers, snakes, lizards etc. by these makers appeared as limited edition Caithness weights from time to time.
Excerpted from The Dictionary of Glass Paperweights, Paul H. Dunlop, Papier Presse 2009.