Worcester coffee pot, c.1753

October 26th, 2014

This small porcelain baluster shaped coffee pot with spreading foot was made in England by Worcester during the scratch cross period (1753-1755). It is decorated with Chinese figures, a parrot on a stand, furniture, and tea set; my favorite detail. Decorated in England, it copied the Mandarin style done by the Chinese, who themselves adapted European decoration for wares exported to North America and Europe. Marked on the underside with a scratch line and a painted anchor artist mark, this pot, minus its original lid, stands 5-3/4″  high.

Although the fragile and more apt to break “S” shaped handle with curled thumb rest remains intact, the original curved spout did not fare so well. A silversmith fashioned a fine silver spout with scalloped plate to replace the missing original. I have many silver replacement spouts with the same form on pots in my collection, so I imagine this must have been a popular style used by silversmiths in the 18th and 19th century.

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This is what a “perfect” example of the coffee pot and lid look like

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Photo courtesy of Bonhams

German Annaberg jug, c.1680

October 18th, 2014

This early black-brown salt glazed stoneware pewter-mounted Birnkrug “pear jug” was made in Annaberg, Germany in the second half of the 17th century. It has incised scaled body decoration of stylized relief palmettes and leaf ornamentation divided by applied molded borders, the front with a figure of Jesus. It is embellished in polychrome enamels and gilding, which have remained surprisingly vibrant after over 330 years. The hinged pewter lid is connected to a ball thumb piece and inset with what appears to be a coin with a crucifixion scene.

As rare as this 10″  high jug is, it is even more special to me by possessing a pewter replacement handle, added by an 18th century tinker, most likely in Germany, after the original handle broke off. The delicate handle, with an intricate stippled wave design and border, is supported by a mounted pewter base ring and lid collar. I first saw this pricy jug at an antiques shop over one year ago and passed on it. But I recently stopped by the shop again and was delighted to find that no one else had snatched it up. After a brief bargaining session with the friendly dealer, I was finally was able to purchase this gem and add it to my collection.

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This jug of similar form and decoration still has its original handle.

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Photo courtesy of Bonhams

Pewter whale oil lamp, c.1830

October 11th, 2014

This early American pewter whale oil lamp with squared off acorn shaped font stands a tad more than 6″  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 late 1800s as a result of the development of kerosene oil in 1846.

The metal replacement base, made by a tinker in the 19th century, has oxidized to almost the same tone as the pewter, thereby making the repair hard to detect. As a result of the missing double burner atop, this lamp instantly transforms into a unique and quirky vase.

Barrels of Whale Oil – New Bedford, Ma., 1859

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This example still has its original pewter base and double burner.

Photo courtesy of Dennis Raleigh Antiques

Minton cup with butterfly handle, c.1869

October 4th, 2014

This delicate English porcelain bone china cup and saucer each have a transfer decoration of butterflies and flowers with hand painted washes of color. The figural butterfly handle, though lovely to look at, makes for an unsteady grasp on a steaming hot cup of tea. Perhaps that’s how both the cup and the saucer met their early demise and ended up crashing to the floor, breaking into many pieces. But luckily a local china mender was standing by with drill and staples at hand, and able to join together the broken pieces. Six tiny brass staples were carefully attached, three on the cup and three on the saucer, allowing the tea to flow once more.

Marked on the underside of the cup, which measures 1-3/4″ high, is an English registry cypher, dating the piece to April 7, 1869. The saucer, with a diameter of 5-1/2″,  has a faint impressed MINTON mark.

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Chinese export armorial mug, c.1785

September 27th, 2014

This sturdy Chinese export porcelain mug dates from the Qianlong period (1736-1795) and has floral decoration and a pseudo armorial cipher/monogram hand painted in the famille rose palette. The mug stands 6-1/2″  high and holds 2 pints of liquid. I am surprised that the entwined handle survived 230 years of use, as they are fragile and are often found broken.

Now, you may wonder “where’s the repair?” The unsigned sterling silver mount along the top with engraved decoration serves a dual purpose. It stabilizes a long vertical crack running the entire length and most likely masks chips along the rim. A beautiful solution which further enhances an already lovely piece.

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This mug is almost identical in form and decoration but does not have the silver rim that mine has.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

Spanish tin glazed plate, c.1800

September 20th, 2014

My friend Marianne gave us this lovely Spanish pottery plate, along with two other similar ones, as a wedding gift when we visited her in Brussels last spring. It is tin glazed with a polychrome design of a bird at center and a wide stylized floral border. The deep plate measures just over 14″  in diameter and was made in Spain at the turn of the 18th century. The enormous iron staples measure a whopping 1-1/4″  long and hold together the three broken pieces. Some of the staples have fallen out since they were first attached to the plate by an itinerant china mender over 150 years ago. At a much later date, metal wire was wrapped and clipped to the back of the plate to form a crude but effective hanging device.

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Amsterdam Bont decorated teapot, c.1740

September 13th, 2014

This Qianlong period globular form teapot has a C shaped handle and an inlaid flat lid with round knob. It was made in China in the mid-1700s and stands 4-1/4″  tall and  7-3/4″  from handle to spout. The original blue underglaze decoration fell out of fashion shortly after it was made, as by the mid-1700s more “attractive colors” were the taste of the day. In order to keep up with the sudden demand for polychrome Chinese ceramics, factories in Europe took the unwanted blue and white decorated pieces and overpainted them with brightly colored enamels, often without regard for the original design beneath. This victim of clobbering, as it is also referred to, or Amsterdam Bont, when done in Holland, has been over decorated with the flower basket motif, one of the most popular designs.

The unusual form replacement silver spout appears to have been made by a skilled 18th century silversmith. It replaced a straight spout, but I think this replacement is much more interesting, and adds to the quirkiness of this twice-decorated teapot.

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This teapot with similar form and decoration shows what the spout on my teapot might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Pater Gratia Oriental Art

London shape tea cup, c.1830

September 7th, 2014

This colorful Chinese porcelain London shape tea cup dates from 1820-1850 and is decorated in the Canton rose palette. It measures 2-1/2″  high and has an opening diameter of 3-1/4″ . The outer polychrome enamel Mandarin decoration depicts a scene of scholars in a garden, and the inside of the rim has a deep painted border of dragons with small stylized clouds. This cup was originally a part of a large dinner service, custom ordered by most likely a wealthy English family.

At some point in the early life of the cup, the original porcelain handle snapped off. But rather than simply toss out the damaged goods as we would today, it was brought to a metalsmith, who fashioned a bronze replacement handle in the same form as the original. To me, the dark color and sculptural quality of the replacement handle makes this embellished cup much more interesting than its “perfect” counterpart.

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This tea cup still has its original handle intact.

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Photo courtesy of Hundred & One Antiques

A tribute to Don Carpentier (1951-2014)

August 31st, 2014

I met Don Carpentier in 2012 when he asked me to give a lecture and show examples from my collection of antiques with inventive repairs. From the moment I entered the Brigadoon-esque Eastfield Village, his paradise on earth, we immediately hit it off and discovered we had many friends and interests in common. Don was one of my biggest supporters and was always there for me to help identify unusual pieces, show me how to detect fraudulent repairs (some made by his own students!) and cheer me on during my very first lecture.

A glimpse of Eastfield Village, consisting of over 20 buildings from the late 18th to early 19th century, including a pottery studio, print shop, blacksmith shop, tinker shop, doctor’s office, tavern, general store, and church. Each building was found within a 50 mile radius of Don’s home and was disassembled piece by piece, brick by brick, and reassembled on his property.

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Don helping me set up for my first lecture at Dish Camp, 2012.

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This pressed glass master salt with a make-do wood replacement base was given to me by Don as a token of thanks for my participation as a lecturer.

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Don making a tin handle during the first Making Make-Do’s workshop in 2013.

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The finished product, which I proudly display in my farmhouse.

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Two examples of Don’s reinvention of mochaware, using the original molds and techniques of the 19th century. The bowl on the right was a wedding gift given to me by my mother last October.

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This past June I participated in the second Making Make-Do’s workshop and made a tin lid for my Worcester teapot. I was helped by (left to right) Olof Jansson, William McMillen, and Don.

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Thank you Don for sharing your enthusiasm, knowledge, and friendship. Words can not express how much you will be missed by those close to you and by the antiques world in general.

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“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