|Date made||c 1917-1918|
First World War, 1914-1918
Glass paperweight : Orderly Room Sergeant W Lambert, 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station, AIF
Standard size domed glass paperweight with cast sulphide inclusion in the form of an Australian Rising Sun collar badge, set on a bed of lamp worked coloured glass chips. The whole is cased in clear glass with air bubble inclusions positioned around the circumference as well as over the badge, enhancing the three dimensional effect. The finished product has been cut and ground to allow it to sit either on its base or on its side for display purposes. There are no signatures or markings on the base.
French glass art paperweight made for 7309 Orderly Room Sergeant William Lambert, 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station (2 CCS), a clerk of Burnley, Victoria, who enlisted on 19 April 1915, aged 35. He embarked for overseas service on 23 November, as a reinforcement for 2 CCS, aboard the transport HMAT 'Ceramic'. He joined his unit in France on 16 June 1916 for 10 days. He was made acting Company Quartermaster on 8 March 1917; a position in which he was officially promoted to on 11 May.
Lambert took leave in Paris from 16 to 26 October 1917. By the end of 1917 he had risen to Warrant Officer (Class 2). After returning to Australia aboard the 'Beltana', he was discharged on 10 September 1919.
His daughter states that 'whilst serving in France, my father met someone who was a glass blower', maybe near the town of Nancy, while his unit was billeted in a nearby village. He watched the glass blower make the paperweight. This suggests the paperweight was made not while Lambert was on leave in Paris, but while his unit was in reserve behind the lines.
Overall, the quality of this piece suggests it is the work of a competent glass blower rather than a master glass craftsman - the scattered glass chips attempt to imitate the earlier use of millefiori glass rod canes, while the placement and size of the air bubbles is uneven. The base and pontil are roughly polished, suggesting a quick job.
Nonetheless, it is a unusual souvenir of wartime France, considering that all the major art glass works (for example St Louis and Baccarat) had closed for the duration of the war.