South American chicha jug, c.1908

October 8th, 2017

This baluster-form pottery chicha jug was made from natural red clay in Boliva or Peru in 1908. It is decorated with deep carvings, including “Indio” faces and geometric forms and measures 5.75 inches high and 5 inches wide. On the underside is a bold incised mark “1908 EA.” Chicha is a fermented beverage made in South and Central America from grains, maize or fruit.

A true survivor, this little jug suffered much damage early on but is still intact 109 years later. With its elaborate design and intricate details, it must have been treasured by its owner and was preserved for future generations using whatever materials were available. By wrapping thin leather strips tightly around the multiple fractures, the jug was able to function once again and saved from the junk pile. It goes without saying that I am certainly glad it wasn’t just thrown out with the garbage.

Boscobel exhibit extended one week!

October 1st, 2017

Due to an outcry from a throng of adoring fans of antiques with inventive repairs, the powers that be at Boscobel House and Gardens have agreed to extended the exhibit, Make-Do’s: Curiously Repaired Antiques. For those of you who did not get the chance to see it, or for those who would like to see it again, you now have until next Sunday, October 8th, to witness the beauty of Boscobel and see hundreds of examples from my collection.

Photos courtesy of Bibiana Famolare

 

Mounted Kangxi dish, c.1750

September 24th, 2017

This porcelain dish was made in China for export to Europe in the middle 1700s. It is decorated with figures in blue, red, green, and black enamels and measures 8 inches long, including the mount, with a diameter of 4.25 inches.

Not only was this dish repaired on the underside using 4 metal staples, each .25 inches long, but a fragment from another piece was added to the ornate bronze rococo mount. Please take a look at an earlier post with a similar porcelain dish and bronze mount: Kanji period dish, c.1700.

 

Japanese Imari mystery vessel, c.1800

September 17th, 2017

This unusual Japanese porcelain vessel has been a mystery to me ever since I purchased it in London in 2014. The dealer I bought it from knew little about it, so I have been researching it for the past few years. It stands 8.75 inches high and is decorated in the Imari style and color palette, including cobalt blue, iron red, green, and gilt accents. I asked some experts to weigh in on its function and age and their responses range from it being a shaving mug, an incense burner, to a tumba for drinking fermented millet. Most agree it was made during the Edo period (1603–1867).

The original lid and handle broke over 125 years ago and were replaced in Tibet (others suggest Turkey and Persia) with an ornate replacement adorned with turquoise, coral and blue glass beads. If anyone can shed more light on this mystery vessel, especially when it was made and its original use, I would greatly appreciate it.

Photographing my collection at Boscobel

September 10th, 2017

This past week I spent two days documenting the exhibit Make-Do’s: Curiously Repaired Antiques at Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, NY with photographer Joshua McHugh and his assistant Scott Irvine. They did an outstanding job shooting pieces from my collection throughout the house using only natural light.

Here are a few photos I took of Joshua at work and various shots from the exhibit. My sincere thanks to Jennifer Carlquist, Ed Glisson, and the staff of Boscobel for their generosity and support during our time there.

Glass oil lamp with wood base, c.1880

September 3rd, 2017

This American pressed glass oil lamp, dating from the late 1800s, can be seen in the exhibit Make-Do’s: Curiously Repaired Antiques at Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, New York, on view through October 1. It measures 10 inches high.

It is not uncommon to find glass oil lamps with a make-do repairs. Starting in the late 1700s, most homes had at least one glass oil lamp and due to their daily use and frequent handling, many became damaged. On this example, a brass ferrule joins the surviving glass bowl to a carved wood replacement base, which appears to be an at home repair. The burner is a modern replacement and allows the lamp to function as it originally did over 130 years ago.

This lamp with similar form suggest what the original base on my lamp might have looked like before it took a tumble.

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Photo courtesy of Oil Lamp Antiques

Chinese Imari tea cup, c.1750

August 27th, 2017

This petite porcelain tea cup has floral decoration in the Imari palette, including cobalt blue, red, and gold. It was made in China during the Qianlong period (1736-95) and most likely would have been a part of a larger dinner service. It measures 2.5 inches high.

Well over 100 years ago, its original loop handle snapped off and was fitted with a nicely done, well proportioned metal replacement. I especially like the two-tone checkerboard pattern of the woven rattan, which might have been the calling card of the repairer. I have dozens of examples of wrapped metal handles and I like comparing the various styles and patterns of the rattan.

This cup with similar form and decoration suggests what the original handle on my cup would have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Stockspring Antiques

“Andy’s Make-Do’s” drawing by Robert de Michiell, c.1996

August 19th, 2017

Robert de Michiell was not only an immensely talented illustrator and theatrical poster designer, he was a dear friend, who sadly passed away in 2015 at the young age of 57. Luckily for those of us who knew and loved him, as well as his many fans and admirers, he left behind a large body of work, including covers for The New Yorker, celebrity portraits featured in Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times, and posters for dozens of Broadway musicals and plays.

Robert had a wicked, dry sense of humor and would frequently fax over (this was MANY years ago) doodles and cartoons commenting on daily interactions with his friends. One day in the summer of 1996, I was telling Bob about one of my recent make-do finds, when moments later, this cartoon came through on my fax machine.

This drawing, and several others Bob created for me, are wonderful reminders of his friendship and talent. Although I still miss him everyday, a quick glance at his artwork assures me that his spirit will always be with me.

London shape Coalport teapot, c.1812

August 13th, 2017

This stately London shape porcelain teapot was made by the Coalport Porcelain Works of England, c.1812. It has a linear pattern in gold with red accents of birds perched on the branches of a fantastical tree, complete with a nest resembling an upturned straw boater hat. It measures 6.5 inches high and 10 inches from handle to spout.

Naturally, I prefer the side riddled with 21 metal staples, as I feel they add a layer of unintentional whimsy to the printed pattern beneath. The final photo shows the teapot on display at the exhibit Make-Do’s: Curiously Repaired Antiques, on view now through October 1 at Boscobel House and Gardens. Come see it, along with hundreds of other examples from my collection of antiques with inventive repairs.

 

Blue transfer printed pearlware jug, c.1825

August 5th, 2017

This Dutch form pottery jug with pearlware glaze and sparrow beak spout was made in England in the first quarter of the 19th century. Standing nearly 4.25 inches high and 5.75 inches from handle to spout, it has blue transfer decoration, combining a pastoral scene with a shepherd, ancient ruins, and a lush border of flowers and fruit along the rim.

Well over 100 years ago, the original loop handle became detached and immediate surgery was needed. Luckily for the jug and its owner, a tinker made a metal replacement handle and bolted it to the jug. To help mask the repair, the new handle was painted blue and white to match the existing decoration. Curiously, a hole on the side was filled with lead, much like a cavity in a tooth. Not the most elegant repair job I have seen but it certainly does the trick.

This jug with similar form and decoration shows what my jug might have looked like before its accident.

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Photo courtesy of eBay