Royal Crown Derby Paperweights are of exceptional quality made from English Bone China and hand decorated in various Imari patterns, generally with 22 carat gold highlighting. The base has a gold or silver stopper in the hole, the purpose of the hole is to fill with a dense material such as sand or lead pellets in order to allow the function of a paperweight. In practice I have never seen anyone fill them this way and the paperweights are kept as decorative examples of brilliant design and decoration. The gold stopper denotes a first quality item, while the silver stopper is used for those that fail first quality control, yet are still of high quality and sold by Royal Crown Derby. With quality control so meticulous, it can often be hard to determine why a paperweight may have been given a silver stopper. These are often passed off as first quality, yet with a keen eye, one can usually pick up on a tiny imperfection, often with the hand painted decoration or gilding and can represent somewhat of a bargain.
Introduced at Chatsworth House in 1981, Royal Crown Derby paperweights were originally released as a collection of just six animals, this was followed with six more animals in 1983 and a further four in 1985. While not antiques, are certainly collectable. From 1987 designs began to be regularly withdrawn each year, which still occurs to this day, keeping demand high.