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"Francis Dyer Whittemore, Jr., who was born on January 6, 1921 in Hackensack, New Jersey, spent most of his childhood years living in the Boston area. Most of his adult life he has lived in the Pittsburgh area with his wife Lois and five children. Francis became interested in making glass at an early age, having been exposed to the Blaschka glass flowers at Harvard University while living in Boston. In 1938, at age seventeen, he started experimenting with glass over a Bunsen burner. While still in high school he became skilled enough making novelty glass that his items sold through local gift shops.
After discharge from the service in 1946, Whittemore worked as a scientific glassblower for sixteen years. During this period he also continued to make novelty glass items—specializing in doll house scale miniatures, such as vases, pitchers, goblets and animals, for which he is world renown. In the 1960's while teaching scientific glassblowing at the Salem County Vocational Technical Institute in New Jersey he started experimenting with making paperweights.
Whittemore first experimented with crimp roses then taught himself to make lampwork. In 1969 he started creating stylized versions of actual flowers in rather small weights. His flowers sometimes appear in bouquets but are usually set singly, in clear glass or over a colored ground in weights that are rarely faceted. Most of his weights feature flowers but a few have other motifs, such as a hummingbird, Christmas candles and a partridge in a pear tree. His weights are signed with a black W on a yellow cane, which is placed on the reverse of the motif. An injury in 1977 stopped Whittemore's active career as a weight maker."
Excerpted from The Dictionary of Glass Paperweights, Paul H. Dunlop, Papier presse 2009.