October 31st, 2015
This Chinese porcelain cup is decorated in cobalt blue with a Peerless Hero figure, stacked bottles and calligraphy taken from Wu Shuang Pu (Table of Peerless Heroes), a late 17th century book of woodcut prints by Jin Guliang. The cup measures 2-3/4 inches high, with an opening diameter of 3-1/2 inches.
After the cup broke in half, over 100 years ago, it was repaired with pairs of metal staples set in cement. Judging from the flattened lozenge-shaped staples made from repurposed wire, this repair was most likely done in the Middle East where itinerant china menders set up shop directly in the streets. But even with the doubled up staples and binding cement, more than a few staples have jumped ship, leaving just tiny empty holes as a reminder of its time in the china mender’s hands.
October 3rd, 2015
This Chinese export porcelain dollhouse miniature with blue underglaze floral decoration dates from the Kangxi period (1662-1722) and stands nearly 2 inches tall. Contrary to popular belief, miniatures like this were displayed in doll houses owned by wealthy adults and were not intended to be played with by children.
Surprisingly, this little gem was not always a sugar bowl but actually started life as a baluster form vase. After it took a tumble, a silversmith kept the surviving middle section, added a minuscule silver lid, handles and base, and voila…a sugar bowl was born. A tiny Dutch hallmark in the shape of a sword can be seen on the bottom of the base, dating it to 1814-1905. The small sword mark was used on silver pieces too small to accommodate full hallmarks.
Shown below is an intact miniature vase, standing just 2-1/2″ tall. It appears that the middle section on a similar vase was used to make the sugar bowl.
July 19th, 2015
This Early American Pattern Glass (EAPG) vase was made in Greentown, Indiana, by the Indiana Tumbler & Goblet Co. from 1894 until 1903. It is made of non-flint glass in the Chrysanthemum leaf pattern with gold accents and stands 5.75 inches high.
I have many examples of EAPG goblets, celery holders, vases, cake stands and oil lamps in my collection that have been dropped and inventively repaired with wood and tin. This one sports a modern-looking golden oak pyramid-shaped wood base replaced in the early 20th century.
This vase still has its original base.
Photo courtesy of eBay
July 5th, 2015
This cup is a mess! It’s a 2.5 inch high Chinese porcelain cup from the Qianlong period (1736-1795) with multi-color enamel decoration in the Mandarin style. Well over 150 years ago when it dropped and shattered into 12 pieces, it was most likely taken to an itinerant “dish mender” who carefully applied 15 metal staples to bring it back to life. A bit of plaster was used to fill in a few gaps left by lost fragments. Past owners really must have cherished this little mug, as it managed to survive many centuries looking like this. As my grandmother would have said, “Oy Vey!”
This cup, in much better condition than mine, shows what an intact example looks like.
Photo courtesy of eBay
June 14th, 2015
I purchased this unmarked soft-paste teabowl from an antique ceramics dealer in the UK who appreciates early repairs and has provided me with many interesting examples of make-do repairs over the years. This piece was made by Philip Christian Liverpool Porcelain, c.1765-70, and measures 1-3/4 inches high x 3 inches diameter. It has a fluted body with molded leaves and flowers, a cobalt blue underglaze border of leaves and berries, and a flower motif painted on the inside.
This delicate teabowl boasts multiple repairs done by a 19th century “china mender.” After the bowl broke, a large chip was reattached using tightly bound brass wire wrapped around holes drilled through the body, appearing at first like more commonly used staple repairs. A large blob of lead was applied to the center of the crack, acting as an anchoring rivet. A smaller chip along the rim, perhaps lost or too small to repair, has been replaced with a thin sliver of porcelain decorated with iron-red scrollwork from another piece entirely. This type of repair, using thin wire instead of metal staples, is typically associated with 19th century repair work done in Belgium and the South of France.
Below is a “perfect” example with matching saucer.
Photo courtesy of Antique Porcelain Online