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.
This oil lamp with similar form shows what the original glass base on my lamp most likely looked like before it took a tumble.
Photo courtesy of eBay
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.
June 14th, 2014
I gave a lecture and participated in a workshop, “Period Make-Do’s and How to Reproduce Them,” this past Monday at Don Carpentier’s Historic Eastfield Village in East Nassau, NY. My friend Bibiana also participated in the workshop and took these photos of my presentation and of our work. Instructors included Master Tinsmith William McMillen, expert Blacksmith and Tinsmith Olof Jansson, and Master of all trades Don Carpentier, who guided us through completing handmade tin replacement lids for my Worcester teapot and Bibiana’s banded mocha ware mug.
This was my second workshop on the art of repairing antiques with antique tools and employing the same methods as those of Early American tradesmen. I am eager to continue my education in the craft of tinsmithing and learn more about how my great-grandfather, a Philadelphia tinsmith, most likely created a number of household items with inventive repairs of his own.
Photos courtesy of Bibiana Famolare Heymann