In Memory of Leo Kaplan

Leo Kaplan
(October 30, 1917 – August 21, 2013)

We are saddened to report the passing of Museum Fellow and donor Leo Kaplan.  Leo was the world’s leading authority on fine antique French and American paperweights.  He and his wife Ruth began selling paperweights in 1966. In 1969, they opened Leo Kaplan Ltd, a gallery in New York City that specializes in ceramics, glass and paperweights. In 2002, they opened Leo Kaplan Modern, which represents modern works in glass.

Gingham Paperweight

Gingham Paperweight, about 1845-1855. Compagnie des Cristalleries de Saint Louis, Saint-Louis France. Collection of The Corning Museum of Glass (95.3.62).

Kaplan became a Fellow of the Corning Museum in 1987. The Museum’s Fellows are the world’s leading experts, collectors and dealers in glass. Leo was a great friend to the Museum for many years.  Many of the Museum’s paperweights were purchased through his gallery, including the rare Gingham paperweight. The Kaplans also donated several important paperweights to the Museum’s collection.

Paul Stankard,  Museum Fellow and a renowned paperweight artist, remembers Leo:

“Leo was a gentle man.  In 1975, when I was a young paperweight maker, Leo’s interest in my work marked a major turning point in my career. His kind mentoring and time spent sharing the nuances of exceptional paperweights from his inventory inspired me to seek excellence.  In addition Leo’s knowledge as a dealer and consultant to major museums and private collectors facilitated extraordinary glass collections both public and private.”

Says Karol Wight, executive director of the Museum, “Leo will be greatly missed by the glass community and by his friends at the Museum.  He was both a gentleman and a scholar, and we valued greatly our relationship with him.”

9 comments » Write a comment

  1. He sounds like someone I would have loved to have met. I love paperweights. They tell a complete story in self contained world. My husband and I are members of Corning. Although we live in NJ, we visit Canandaigua , NY quite frequently. On our trips we conveniently pass by Corning and will stop going or coming especially when we see a special exhibit. . .or to just walk around. It is such a creative and beautiful place. We know that with people as devoted as Mr. Kaplan was, we look forward to many more visits and many more ooo’s and ahhhhh’s.

  2. Please could you tell me how I can get a picture of the Gingham Paperweight above?
    I am looking for a postcard of some sort, if there is such a thing.
    I get regular up dates from the PCA, and saw this. RIP. Leo Kaplan. Obviously a man of immense talent.
    I would gratefully appreciate it,if you can help me in this matter.

  3. Leo Kaplan was a good friend. I met Leo in the 1970’s when I showed him my first paperweight. He was very encouraging and helped me get started in my career as a glass artist. He was kind warm and gentle with a soft smile. Yet he had a superb eye for the best art glass out there and was extremely knowledgable. We had great fun together as he promoted a small group of artists including my Father and Myself. He really came to know us personally and we formed a friendship beyond the work. It was such a personal relationship, like an extended family. He made connecting glass exciting, at times it was competitive but it was in the spirit of achieving something great. I will miss Leo tremendously but I am fortunate to have the memory of his presence in my life.
    Debbie Tarsitano

  4. I am searching for a Leo Kaplan who is a cousin of mine that I have not seen since the early 1940’s. I would like to know if this is he.

  5. So often you hear about what a nice person so and so was, but Leo is truly the epitome of that. He always had time for you, even if you didn’t spend a dime in his gallery. He was that rare individual who actually listened to people instead of anxiously waiting for their turn to talk in the conversation. A gentleman of the highest order, he will be missed.

  6. I am sorry to hear of Mr Kaplan’s passing. He was kindness itself when I visited his shop in 1998. A wonderful gentleman in every sense of the word, and fabulous Wedgwood collection.

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