May 11th, 2013
In honor of Mother’s Day, I am featuring a dish that only a mother could love. I believe it to be English from the mid 1800s and made of porcelain with hand painted decoration in cobalt, drab and gold. It is marked on the bottom with the numbers 4 over 554 and measures 9″ x 10″. This is truly one of the saddest antiques with inventive repairs I have ever seen, and believe me, it took much inner soul searching just to purchase it. I am breaking with tradition and showing the underside of the plate first. Take a deep breath…this is not going to be pretty.
This dish must have held great sentimental value for its original owner. In order to make it “whole” again after being shattered over 100 years ago, it was professionally repaired using 10 large metal staples, overpainted to mask the unsightly raw material. Sadly, the dish was dropped AGAIN, resulting in the loss of 3 staples and a sloppy glue job, now yellow with age. To add insult to injury, later in life it was bound with a cat’s cradle worth of string and cord, so it could proudly hang on a wall for all the world to see the tenacity of this unlikely survivor.
May 4th, 2013
This unmarked porcelain novelty was most likely produced in Germany around 1920 and measures 5-3/4″ long. Also known as half dolls, they were typically attached to tops of pincushions, boxes and small clothes brushes and displayed on vanity and dresser tops. This one graduated from half doll to full doll, with the aid of a wooden clothespin attached at the waist. I imagine that after the piece broke, a handy dad whittled the lower extremities to form makeshift prosthetic legs. In an attempt to create a respectable outfit for this coquettish lass, the clothespin legs were covered in now faded pink cloth tape, the duct tape of its day. Wouldn’t it be great if this immobile doll ended up in a doll house, filled with inventively repaired miniature furnishings and inhabitants, including a make-do Pierrot?
This lovely lady sits atop a powder box and still has her original porcelain legs.
Photo courtesy of LiveJournal
April 20th, 2013
There seems to be a multitude of original toy cannon barrels married to wood replacement bases, as I have encountered numerous examples since I started collecting antiques with inventive repairs. This fine toy was most likely made in America in the last quarter of the 19th century and is made of brass with a replaced wood base, freely carved from a block of what appears to be pine. It measures 7-1/2″ long, stands 2-3/4″ tall and the barrel alone is 3-1/2″ long. The remains of the original barrel are firmly nailed to the replacement base using a leather strap. The original green painted surface reveals much wear from years of imaginative playing. Two sets of nail holes on one side suggest perhaps a length of chain was once attached. I purchased this in the same lot as two other toy cannons, all with the same green painted surface and graduating in size. Please take a look at the smallest one, previously posted, and stay tuned for the largest example, which I will post sometime in the near future.
This toy cannon, also made of brass, is in its original form and shows what mine may have looked like before the barrel was strapped on to its wood replacement base. Though not up to military code, I still prefer mine!
Photo courtesy of Esty
An astute subscriber and former gun collector has informed me that this cute li’l toy cannon is actually made from the barrel of a REAL GUN! Please read his amusing and telling comments below, which shed some light on this toys former life on the streets, defending helpless women. And this is what the European ladies percussion muff pistol looked like when it was still intact and used as a deadly weapon, c.1840:
Photo courtesy of Sailor in Saddle
March 31st, 2013
I hit the jackpot this past November while visiting friends in southern Vermont for the Thanksgiving holiday. On “Black Friday”, my dear friend Hilary and I ventured out to visit a few local antiques shops when I stumbled upon a set of three toy cannons, graduating in size, and each with a unique inventive repair.
This little gem, the smallest of the three, measures 3-1/2″ long and is 1-1/2″ tall. The tiny cast brass barrel, with its lovely green patina, is set in to the simple, yet effective, replacement base carved from a small block of wood, and held in place by two metal loops.
I particularly like the the three steps in the back and how the top of the wooden base was carved out in the exact shape of the cannon’s barrel so it would fit snugly in place. The dark greenish-brown painted surface remains mostly intact but shows some wear due, no doubt, to endless hours of battles played out in the safe confines of a patriotic young boy’s back yard. These toy cannons might have been manufactured in 1876, to help commemorate America’s centennial.
I will be posting the other two cannons from the same lot in the coming months, so be on the lookout. And please take a look at another small toy cannon, with a much cruder home-made repair, previously posted in these pages.
This toy cast iron ship’s signal cannon from the early 1800s shows what the original base on my cannon might have looked like.
Photo courtesy of Land and Sea Collection
March 23rd, 2013
This boldly painted, hard to find teapot was designed by no other than Eva Zeisel, who worked for Majolika Fabrik in Schramberg, Germany. She arrived in the small Black Forest town in the fall of 1928 and left nearly two years later in the spring of 1930, creating nearly 200 brightly colored pottery objects of Art Deco inspired design. This lightweight pottery teapot measures 7-1/2″ tall and is 8-3/4″ wide from handle to spout.
I am not surprised that this fragile teapot did not remain unscathed over the past 84 years, as the low fired clay is susceptible to breakage. A large broken piece at the top of the pot has been reapplied, aided by three large metal staples, each measuring nearly 3/4″ long. To help camouflage this none-too-subtle repair, the staples were overpainted in matching tones, with only traces of color remaining. To add insult to injury, the top portion of the handle, once broken off, has been riveted back on to the body. Tightly woven rattan envelopes the entire handle and the lower portion of the teapot, although I am not sure if this is was a later addition. Original or not, the basket-like embellishment adds another layer of quirkiness to this most desirable vessel.
The stamped mark on the bottom reads: Majolika, SMF (contained within a shield), Schramberg Handyemalt, 64.
Photo courtesy of Kulturprojekte Berlin
These are more examples of majolica designed by Eva Zeisel during her years in Schramberg, Germany
An early photograph of Eva Zeisel in her studio, c. 1930.
Photos courtesy of John Foster
March 17th, 2013
This substantial ale mug was manufactured at the turn of the 18th century, possibly by Caughley, in Shropshire, England. It stands 5-1/2″ tall and is made of soft-paste porcelain with a pearlware glaze, and decorated with a bold cobalt blue Chinoiserie fantasy transfer print. It was purchased in London by my father and given to me as my 40th birthday present. Seeing it reminds me of how proud he was when he found pieces to add to my numerous collections. Although it has just 2 small brass staples by the handle and not an over abundance of obvious repairs, as more typically seen in these pages, I am still very happy to own it.