GLASS ET CETERA
Midcentury Steuben crystal bird paperweight
11cm x 6cm, few scratches on the base but in good vintage condition. Signed Steuben.
Since 1903, Steuben glass has been fashioned into everything from fruit bowls and decorative animal figurines to one-of-a-kind sculptures bestowed as official gifts of American presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton. Art objects can cost tens of thousands of dollars, with classic pieces creeping into six figures.
Like fine diamonds, clear-as-water Steuben (pronounced stew-'BEN) seems almost to emanate light from within. Depending on how it's worked, it can reflect or refract the entire spectrum of a ray of light.
Other hallmarks are its elegant, naturally flowing shapes — and eye-popping price tags. While largely confined to the wealthy, Steuben long lured up-and-comers willing to set aside a small fortune to possess a dining-room centerpiece or splurge on a wedding gift for a favorite niece.