One does see this type of female hand also represented more commonly in paper clips of this period but rarely to this level of sophistication. The casting is very sharp. Fanniere Freres of Paris made a fairly similar paper-weight in 1880.
Amidst the decorative excess that typified Victorian times, paperweights provided a respite of exquisite craftsmanship and conservative artistry. They became a popular gift item to be given to family or loved ones and were sold in stationery stores, and fine glass shops throughout Europe and Great Britain, and eventually in America.
A superbly decorative yet functional piece of Victorian desk furniture, and of fine quality, making humble paper that much more of an attractive proposition.