Morton Darrell Barker (1888-1967)
Morton Darrell Barker, an avid and discriminating collector of fine French antique paperweights, secured his first paperweight, a green magnum doorstop, at a St. Louis, Missouri, estate auction in the early 1940s. He commented later that as the spirited bidding at the auction increased, his own interest and curiosity in "old glass" was aroused.
In 1945 fate seemed to intervene. While traveling in Mexico with his wife Emily, Morton discovered lovely 1848 Baccarat weights in a Mexico City dealer's window. The discussion of value went on at length, and after the successful buyer emerged with weights in hand, his life would never be quite the same.
Morton began to research paperweights, contact dealers and collectors, and travel extensively with his wife to see other paperweight collections, all of which broadened his understanding and knowledge of his specialized avocation. He credited friends David Spink of Spink & Son, Ltd., London, and Maurice Lindon, Paris, as major influences; their distinguished guidance helped develop and balance the collection that is now part of the permanent holdings of the Illinois State Museum.
In a letter to fellow collectors on July 24, 1964, Morton said, "My greatest pleasure in collecting has been to see as many collections as possible." With this in mind, he bequeathed his entire collection to the Illinois State Museum in 1976. How pleased he would have been to know that his carefully chosen treasures would be shared with friends, collectors, and the thousands of visitors to the Illinois State Museum and to this Web site.