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

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