St. Louis Wafer Dish

In the 1700s, paperweights made from textured stone or bronze were part of the writer’s tool kit, which also included a quill pen and stand, inkpot, and blotter. By the mid-1800s, decorative paperweights produced by glassmakers in Europe and the United States became highly desired collectibles.
Decorative glass paperweights reflected the 19th-century taste for intricate, over-the-top designs. Until the spread of textiles colorized with synthetic dyes, ceramics and glass were among the few objects that added brilliant color to a 19th-century Victorian interior. The popularity of these paperweights in the 1800s testifies to the sustained cultural interest in hand craftsmanship during an age of rapid industrialization.
Glass production at Saint Louis was authorized by Louis XV in 1767. By 1782 the firm was creating high quality glass crystal, progressing into pressed glass in the 1800s. St. Louis produced paperweights from 1845 to about 1867.
This St. Louis glass wafer dish features a “scrambled millefiori” base, made of a mix of different types of glass canes and other glass pieces, with a red and white torsade, or twisted ribbon, upper rim. Millefiore paperweights, first manufactured in Venice, consist of sections from rods of colored glass encased in a clear, colorless sphere. By the mid-nineteenth century, glass factories elsewhere in Europe were emulating the millefiore style.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
St. Louis
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
overall: 3 3/16 in x 3 1/2 in; 8.09625 cm x 8.89 cm
place made
France: Lorraine
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Domestic Furnishings
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Mrs. Florence E. Bushee

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