When Royal Crown Derby first introduced their paperweights in September 1981, they were filled with sand at the factory and a small simulated gold stopper was inserted in the basal hole. The practice of filling paperweights with sand was not liked for several reasons; transportation costs were higher and Health and Safety Legislation was infringed. Therefore the sand was left out but gold stoppers continued to be used.

Some years later, the decision was taken to increase the amount of clay used in the paperweight bodies so as to make them more robust. The gold stopper was replaced with a permanently fixed ceramic stopper marked with the Royal Crown Derby cypher and a hole next to it to prevent the piece exploding in the kiln.

The paperweights that had these ceramic stoppers were:

  Harvest Mouse
The ceramic stopper proved unpopular with collector's so the gold stopper was re-introduced.

At one time paperweights destined for the United States were shipped with their stoppers removed as an American Customs requirement. The purchaser then had to insert his own stopper. Thus first quality pieces can be found for sale with their stoppers genuinely missing.

Gold Stoppers: Gold stoppers identify the paperweight is a first quality piece. Unfortunately the gold colour is not a consistent colour and it can be difficult to tell the difference between these and silver stoppers sometimes. A tip that many collectors use is to compare them to something that is definitely known to be silver, for example a stainless steel knife blade.

There have been reports that some unscrupulous individuals have been spraying silver stoppers or inserting gold stoppers into second quality pieces to increase their appeal and value. Care is therefore advised.

In 2002, to celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the Royal Crown Derby paperweights, each piece leaving the factory features a special gold stopper.

Silver Stoppers: Silver stoppers indentify the paperweight is a second quality piece. This is usually accompanied by the basal Royal Crown Derby cypher being scratched through.

In more recent pieces the silver stoppers have a different embossed pattern to the older version and the gold stoppers. This makes it easier to differentiate between a genuine first and a second quality paperweight.


Last Modified: 11/04/03