Ysart and Vasart Paperweights
It’s of little surprise that the prodigiously creative Ysart family were to get involved in the production of glass paperweights, with Paul Ysart being the leading exponent of the art. Those made by his father and brothers were sold under the Vasart name.
Paul’s first foray in to paperweight manufacture was whilst he was an apprentice at the Moncreiff glassworks in Perth; engaged initially in full-time studies, and then working on the range of Monart glass developed with his father, paperweight production was very much a sideline though his talents were immediately obvious.
His reputation began to spread, and Moncrieff's were prompted to include Paul’s paperweights in their product lines, along with his millefiori inkwells. However, ambitions were thwarted by the outbreak of war in 1939, and the factory was required to produce more prosaic materials for the duration.
At the war’s end in 1945 Paul’s family determined to leave Moncrieff's and set up their own company, but he decided to remain with his original employers and pursue paperweight production under their remit.
A number of Paul Ysart’s paperweights had found their way across the Atlantic, where they were very well received by collectors, who initially thought that they were ‘original’ 19th century French pieces, such was the quality of the workmanship. A dealer from the States contacted Paul, having seen the potential of his work, and drew up a contract whereby he would be the sole distributer in North America for all export paperweights.
Just as it seemed that he was on the verge of huge success, Paul was lured away from Moncrieff by an offer from Caithness Glass in Wick, to the far north east of Scotland, in order to become their staff training guru. Whilst there continued to make paperweights in smaller quantities, as instructional pieces and by way of demonstration or for his own amusement. Such was his reputation that even these pieces were immediately much sought after, even though they retailed solely from a remote souvenir shop, if not snapped up first by his American distributor.
After serving Caithness for five years, Paul Ysart decided that it was once again time to move on, and he set up shop at a farmstead known as Harland, close to Wick. Underwritten by a local businessman, the business was never particularly profitable to the point it ceased trading in 1975. Paul made one last effort to keep going, under the guise of Highland Paperweights, but age was now catching up with him and he retired after a short time.
The remainder of the Ysart family continued to make paperweights all the time that Paul was doing his own thing, under the trade name of Vasart for the duration of the decade immediately after WWII, and then as Vasart Glass Ltd for a further ten years. This was however no more than a sideline to their core art-glass business and, as such, the quality of their paperweights never reached the same heights as their brother’s work.