“Girl of Lily” sugar bowl, c.1860

August 23rd, 2014

What looks like a glass goblet is actually a sugar bowl. Made in the mid 19th century by the McKee Glass Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) stemmed sugar bowl is made of flint glass and has a raised “Girl of Lily” pattern, also called “Eve” and “Little Eva”, on three sides. It stands 6″  tall and has an opening of 4-3/8″  and is quite heavy, characteristic of flint glass, which has a large lead content. Another characteristic is its durability, though at some point in the 1800s, the sugar bowl slipped out of the hands of its carrier and the base snapped off. Luckily it wasn’t a salt container, as some believe that spilling salt is an evil omen. Spilled sugar, not so much. But it seems someone in the house was handy, as a nicely turned wood base was made to replace the broken original base and the sugar bowl was passed around the dinner table once again.

This photo shows the sugar bowl intact with the original lid and base.

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From the book Much More Early American Pattern Glass by Alice Hulett Metz, 1965

Creamware motto mug, c.1800

August 16th, 2014

This simple creamware pottery mug with cylindrical form is decorated with a black transfer decoration of the Farmer’s Toast aka God Speed the Plough. It was made in England in the late 1700s-early 1800s and measures 4-3/4″  high. A tinsmith fashioned a sturdy replacement handle, attaching it to a metal band at the top and bolting it through the body at the bottom. I love the boldness of the dark printed decoration and patinated metal handle against the stark cream color of the mug.

Let the Wealthy & Great,

Roll in Splendor & State.

I envy them not I declare it.

I eat my own Lamb,

My own Chicken & Ham.

I shear my own Fleece & wear it.

I have Lawns I have Bowers,

I have fruits I have Flowers.

The lark is my morning alarmer.

So jolly Boys now,

Here’s God speed the Plough.

Long Life & Success to

The Farmer.

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Although the black transfer decoration differs, the form is the same and shows what the simple loop handle would have looked like on my mug.

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Photo courtesy of Martyn Edgell

Chinese teapot with silver spout & wood handle, c.1750

August 9th, 2014

This large globular form porcelain teapot was made in China during the middle of the 18th century and has not one but two 19th century inventive repairs. It measures 6″  high and 9-1/2″  wide from handle to spout. Both sides have the same Mandarin decoration in the famille rose palette, depicting a family scene in a garden with trees and distant mountains.

But what makes this piece so special is the unusual shaped silver replacement spout with a heart shaped back plate and the overscaled wood replacement handle in silver mounts. I imagine the wood handle was intended for a larger teapot, but it might have been the only option available at the time of repair. I found this teapot in the UK and I have seen the same replacement spout on another teapot of the same period, also in the UK. Although most antiques collectors would rather have an example of this teapot in “perfect” condition, I much prefer the whimsy and uniqueness of this survivor with its quirky embellishments.

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This teapot of similar form and decoration suggests what the original handle and spout on my teapot might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Pater Gratia Oriental Art

Signed Chinese jug with split handle, c.1740

August 3rd, 2014

This Chinese baluster shaped porcelain jug, with molded spout in the manner of European silver, has hand painted underglaze cobalt blue Nanking decoration of houses, trees and birds. It dates from the middle of the 18th century and stands nearly 8″  tall.

Over 100 years ago when the original reeded strap handle broke off, an unusual split form metal replacement handle was added. A clever tinker reinterpreted the original handle design by forging a bronze loop handle into four extensions and adding small discs, which were riveted to the leaf terminals. The remains of an intricately woven rattan sheath are found on about one third of the handle. Most curiously, there is an engraved signature on the underside, difficult to decipher, which may be the name of the china mender or of a previous owner. If anyone knows more about this marking, please let me know.

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This jug with similar form and decoration shows what the original handle on my jug may have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

Set of 5 Mason’s Ironstone cups, c.1835

July 26th, 2014

In the world of collecting, nothing pleases me more than stumbling upon items with matching inventive repairs, and this set of footed breakfast cups and saucers deliver five times over. Made in England by Mason’s Ironstone from 1830 to 1840, these heavy porcelain cups, measuring nearly 3-1/4″  tall, have the transfer printed “Conversation” pattern in the rare yellow scale colorway. Each cup and saucer is marked in black transfer on the underside MASON’S PATENT IRONSTONE CHINA.

I purchased the set during my last trip to London from dealer Fergus Robert Downey who later told me that he has a sixth cup with an identical replaced handle, so I am hoping to one day have the complete sextet. I can’t imagine that all of the original handles snapped off the cups at the same time, unless a particular breakfast got a bit too rowdy. More likely, one or two handles might have broken off, so in order to keep the set looking uniform, the remaining intact handles were removed and all cups were fitted with the same metal replacement. The metalsmith did a fine job, as all of the handles are well matched and expertly riveted to the cups.

Now about that sixth cup, Fergus… IMG_8477                       IMG_8479                         IMG_8483                           IMG_8485                         IMG_8486                           IMG_8487                           IMG_8489

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This cup, in perfect condition, shows what the original handles on my cups would have looked like before they took a tumble.

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Photo courtesy of Vanbrugh West Antiques

Georgian Castleford teapot, c.1810

July 20th, 2014

This handsome Castleford-style teapot with neoclassical design was made in England in the early 1800s. It is made of fine-grained unglazed black basalt stoneware with a hinged lid set in a scalloped rim and fastened with a metal pin. It measures 5-1/2″ tall and 8-3/4″ from handle to spout. Two different classical tableaux in detailed relief are on each paneled side, with acanthus leaves at the top and the bottom.

When this teapot was dropped over 150 years ago, the spout broke in two places and the knob came undone. Typically, fragile lids on teapots with this design snap off so I am surprised that this lid remains intact. A 19th century tinker repaired all of the broken bits by attaching two metal sleeves around the breaks in the spout and riveted on a new metal replacement knob. The metal repairs were originally painted black to blend in with the black basalt color of the pot, but time and age have peeled away the paint, leaving a pleasing patina to the metal. There is a later putty repair to a crack on the underside which is useless now, but I imagine it served its purpose at the time it was applied.

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This example with nearly the same form, shows what the original spout and knob would have looked like on my teapot.

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Photo courtesy of D. G. Barsby Antiques

Swallowed up whale oil lamp, c.1860

July 12th, 2014

This whale oil lamp is pulling a Jonah in reverse, as it appears that the “whale” has been swallowed up by its wood replacement base. Possibly made by the New England Glass Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the mid-1800s, this tri-mold pressed glass lamp with thumbprint pattern stands 7-1/4″ tall.

Whale oil was the preferred source of lighting in the early 1800s, and was also used for making soap, textiles, jute, varnish, explosives and paint. It fell out of favor by the third quarter of the 1800s as a result of the development of kerosene oil in 1846, a cheaper and less odorous alternative.

The lathe-turned wood base envelopes more than half of the lamp, which results in a whimsical, yet sturdy, home repair.

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This oil lamp with similar form shows what the original glass base on my lamp most likely looked like before it took a tumble.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

Chinese mug with fireworks decoration, c.1760

July 5th, 2014

In honor of Independence Day I am pleased to share with you a Chinese porcelain mug with a fireworks theme, made for export to North America and Europe during the Qianlong period (1736-1795). It stands 4-3/4″ high and is decorated in the Mandarin style with cloud-shaped cartouches executed in famille rose enamels, and containing floral sprigs and a family tableau depicting a child lighting fireworks.

I wouldn’t be surprised if during the first organized 4th of July celebration in 1777, a raucous party involving the lighting of fireworks forced this mug to fly off a table and crash to the ground, causing its handle to shatter and the bottom to fall off. Rather than throw out the expensive and cherished mug, it was brought to a local tinker who fashioned a sturdy brass replacement handle. To help insulate the handle from its hot contents, it was wrapped in decoratively woven rattan. The bottom was reattached to the body using five large brass staples with a bond so tight it could hold liquid without leaking. As china menders typically did not sign their work, there is no way to know who was responsible for this repair, but I imagine they each had their own signature style in weaving the rattan so that they could distinguish their work from each other.

These mugs of similar form show what the original handle on my mug might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon’s Mystery Midden

Miniature Chinese Kangxi teapot, c.1720

June 29th, 2014

This wee globular form teapot was made in China during the Kangxi period (1661 – 1722) and measures just 2-1/2″ high and 4-1/4″ from handle to spout. It has Famille Vert decoration of floral bouquets tied with ribbon in blue underglaze enamel, iron red and green washes, and gilt highlights. The domed cover, decorated with plum blossoms, has a tiny vent hole, just as its full-size counterpart would have. I believe that this was part of a larger tea set purchased for a child from a wealthy family, as only the upper class were able to afford imported Chinese porcelain.

Without seeing the coin to show the lilliputian size of the teapot, I doubt you would have guessed that this is a miniature. The exquisitely crafted metal replacement spout and rattan-covered bronze handle are superior to the more standard repairs seen on most other miniatures. It seems that someone truly appreciated the stellar repair work, as is evident by the teeth marks at the end of the spout. Perhaps this was just a child’s way of saying “This new spout tastes better than the old one. Thanks, and job well done!”

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This nearly identical miniature still has its original handle and spout, but I think my teapot is the more interesting one of the pair.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

Flight & Barr dish with 31 brass staples, c.1805

June 22nd, 2014

This high quality porcelain dish was made in Worcester, England, by manufacturers Flight & Barr. It is decorated with a wide Gothic influenced geometric border in gilt and burnt orange enamel. It measures 11-1/4″ by 7-7/8″ and dates to early 19th century. The underside has a beautifully hand painted mark in puce which reads “Flight & Barr, Worcester, Manufactures to Their Majesties,” as well as a small crown and an incised letter B.

After the dish was dropped and brought to a china mender for restoration, 31 brass staples were attached to make the dish complete and usable once again. The eight holes in-between the six staples at one end indicate that an earlier repair was made to the dish, but apparently they were removed. The second restoration, executed well over 100 years ago, was a success and the sturdy dish was most likely put back in service for use at the dinner table. But I would rather just admire it for the beauty and ingenuity of the repair and display it wrong side up.

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