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Piero Fornasetti NATO Call Letters Paperweight, 1950s.

Piero Fornasetti NATO Call Letters Paperweight in Form of an Electrical Insulator,


This is a great and rather rare piece from Italian designer Piero Fornasetti's line of ceramic insulators, cleverly repurposed into paperweight pen rests and decorated with the Call letters used by NATO.

THE NATO ALPHABET is found on a Insulator shape U-1668. The side of the crown and side wire groove are trimmed in gold. The crown decal reads "FOR YOUR TELEPHONE MESSAGES" while the skirt decals lists the words used to represent each letter of the alphabet as officially adopted by NATO. The crown top is a compass with the letters N, A, T, O..

Dimensions: Height: 3 3/4" high x 2 1/2 inches wide

In applying gold trim and decals to an industrial object, Fornasetti was challenging the notion that form follows function but, instead, form or, in this case, a decoration can be added to an object to create "varying degrees of irony, wit and tension" making people rethink the way they looked at the world (Wilk in Mauriès 1991, p. 5).

This insulator was probably produced by the Ginori factory for Fornasetti's studio.

Dimensions: Height: 3 3/4" high

Mark: Fornasetti, Milano - Made in Italy.

See:  A paperweight of similar form can be seen at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Museum number:C.67-1985




Fornasetti Decorated Insulators

What designs did they come in?
     According to Mauriès (1991, p. 280), Piero Fornasetti made paperweights with electrical insulators in 16 designs.   


Listed below, then, are the known designs. 

There are variations to these designs but I am assuming that these variations would not be counted as separate designs.   These designs can be labeled as 1). Calendars, 2). NATO Alphabet, 3). The New Key to Dreams, 4). Clocks,  5). Fishing, 6). Pipe smoking, 7) Musical Instruments and 8) Butterflies.

What insulators were used?
It's likely that the insulators Fornasetti used were made by Richard Ginori and may have never been used on a line.  In the foreword to Mauriès book (1991, p. 5), Wilk writes that "Fornasetti ceramics are, in fact, blank forms designed and made by the firms of Eschenback or Richard Ginori, among others, with Fornasetti decoration applied." Since Eschenback did not make insulators and Richard Ginori did, Ginori seems a likely source.  The insulators used are U-1668 and U-1714 

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