Ridgway relief molded jug, c.1835

June 24th, 2017

This relief molded salt glaze jug from 1835 was made in England by Ridgway. It is decorated with scenes from Robert Burns’ poem, “Tam O’Shanter,” written in 1790. It measures 6.75 inches tall and is incised on the underside: “Published by W. RIDGWAY & CO. MANLEY, October 1, 1835.”

Although this jug maintains its original pewter lid, its overscaled ear-shaped metal handle is a replacement, made by a tinsmith over 150 years ago.

Here’s the same jug with its original handle intact.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Dando

Character jug with stapled face, c.1924

June 17th, 2017

Is this another monster created by Dr. Frankenstein? Not exactly, but it looks like his English relative.

This blue-glazed pottery character jug in the form of British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was designed by Percy Metcalfe and produced in Surrey, England, by Ashtead Potters between 1923-1929. It stands 7.5 inches high and is boldly marked on the underside and numbered 202 of a limited edition of one thousand.

We will never know for sure if the jug became broken accidentally or if it was thrown in disgust as a result of a disagreement over the political views of the Right Honorable Stanley Baldwin. Either way, four small metal staples were used to repair his broken face. Ouch, that’s gotta hurt!

Three other commemorative jugs were made in this series. Shown here in Pearl Barley glaze, they include Attorney General Lord Hailsham (Douglas McGarel Hogg), British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and Australian Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce.

Photo courtesy of Ashtead Pottery

NUS Museum, Singapore

June 10th, 2017

Yesterday I visited the NUS Museum, a beautifully designed and well curated museum on the campus of National University of Singapore. Naturally, I was on the lookout for antiques with inventive repairs and happily, found some examples to write about.

The Lee Kong Chian gallery on the lobby level features Chinese export ceramics from the Lee Kong Chian Museum and the archaeological collection of Dr. John Miksic. Hiding in plain sight was this vase made during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), in Jinjiang, Fujian. Its silver replacement lid and collar were added hundreds of years later.

Also on the lobby level is the Archaeology Library, which includes thousands of excavated ceramic shards and artifacts, on loan from institutions and private collectors.

I spotted this blue & white porcelain hulu (gourd-shaped) ewer from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) among hundreds of ceramics, in the Resource Gallery on the top level. I have always loved galleries such as this, as they are typically more casual than curated exhibits and have a bit of an antiques shop or flea market vibe.

Make-Do’s: Curiously Repaired Antiques

June 3rd, 2017

I am pleased to be part of Make-Do’s: Curiously Repaired Antiques, the first exhibition of its kind showcasing inventive repairs, at Boscobel, a Federal period historically restored mansion on the Hudson River in Garrison, NY. The exhibit, which opened today and runs through October 1, 2017, includes numerous forms of inventive repair, including over 150 pieces from my own collection, as well as examples on loan from historical institutions, museums, and individuals. Make-do’s are cleverly displayed within the rooms of the mansion and in a special gallery exhibit. There will be lectures, a repair cafe and other programs relating to the exhibit throughout the summer, so please check the Boscobel website for more details. An illustrated catalogue with essays by Curator Jennifer Carlquist and me is available for purchase in the Gift Shop.

Photos courtesy of Boscobel

Toy dog with replaced coat, c.1920

May 28th, 2017

This humble little fellow, who stands just 3.75 inches high, lost his fur coat long ago. He has tiny glass eyes and was made in China in the 1920s from papier mache covered in flannel. Thanks to an enterprising individual, our canine friend can keep warm again, and be in the height of fashion, with his new snappy coat made from layered pieces of cloth tape.

Thank you Cousin Carol for this fine gift, a welcomed addition to my collection!

Chinese Imari teapot with double repair, c.1720

May 21st, 2017

This bullet-form porcelain teapot has it all: good looks, great form, a winning personality, and two different early inventive repairs. It was made in China for export during the Kangxi period (1662-1722) and is decorated with floral sprays in the Japanese Imari palette with bold colors and strong graphics. It measures 4 inches high and 6.5 inches wide from handle to spout.

At some point in its early life, a spoutless teapot was brought to a repairer who made a simple metal replacement spout. Not long after, it was brought back to be fitted for a wicker covered bronze replacement handle. A friend once showed me a similarly shaped teapot that had met such an end. And by merely sealing up the hole left by the missing spout and grinding down the handle terminals, the original owner lost a teapot but gained a sugar bowl. As much as I marvel at the ingenuity of that transformation, I am glad my broken teapot is still a teapot.

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

Photo courtesy of Alain Truong

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

May 14th, 2017

Before I travel, one of the first things I do is research the local museums, in hope of finding antiques with inventive repairs. As I am currently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, working on a movie, in my rare time off I have been searching for make-do’s in local museums. Last weekend I finally hit pay dirt.

This past Saturday, I spent a few hours at the spectacular Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, home to one of the best collections of Islamic decorative arts in the world. Much to my surprise and delight, the museum is filled with many stunning examples of inventive repairs. The wide range includes silver, brass, and wood replacement lids, stems, handles, knobs, and spouts; made in China, Europe, and the Middle East. Strangely, I did not see any examples of staple repair, although I bet some pieces do exist, buried deep within their storage vaults.

Here are some of my favorite pieces and their printed descriptions:

Blue and white porcelain ewer, China and Persia, 17th-19th century.

Blue and white porcelain ewer, Kangxi Period, China, 1662-1722. Blue and white porcelain rosewater sprinkler, Kangxi Period, China, 18th century.

Blue and white porcelain huqqah (sic) base, Qing Dynasty China, late 17th-18th century.

Blue and white porcelain huqqah (sic) base, Kangxi Period, Qing Dynasty, China, 17th century.

Blue and white porcelain rosewater sprinkler, China, c. 17th century.

Blue and white porcelain ewer, Qing Dynasty, China, 18th century.

Engraved brass ewer, Deccan India, 17th-18th century.

Samson pot and cover (Iznik style), France, 19th century.

Underglaze painted vase, Safavid Iran, 17th century.

Underglaze painted ewer, Iran, 17th and 19th century.

Blue and white ewer, Jailing (sic) Period, Ming Dynasty China, late 16th-17th century.

Lalique “Coquilles” glass bowl, c.1900

May 5th, 2017

This elegant Art Nouveau opaline glass bowl was made by Lalique in France, circa 1900. It is decorated with molded overlapping clam shells in the Coquilles No.2 pattern and measures 8.25 inches in diameter. “R. LALIQUE, FRANCE no. 3201” is etched on the underside.

Most people are amazed when they first encounter staple repairs on ceramics. When they see the same technique applied to glassware, they are stupefied. Click on this entry: Miniature cranberry glass punch cup, c.1890, to see one quarter inch staples holding together a tiny glass cup. It’s hard to imagine how this delicate work was done, let alone how the repairs have remained intact for over 100 years.

Welsh jug with metal handle, c.1850

April 29th, 2017

This little pearlware pottery cream jug was made in the unpronounceable village of Ynysmeudwy, Wales during the mid-19th century and was part of a child’s tea set. It is decorated with moulded relief of hunters, dogs, and flowers, with flow blue glaze and copper lustre bands at the rim and base. It stands nearly 3.5 inches high and is marked “35” in copper lustre on the underside.

As is true of the many fragile items for children that I have in my collection, this poor jug must have slipped from the hands of a nervous child, who no doubt was told to handle it with care. Well over 100 years ago, as a result of the mishap, a tinker made a sturdy metal replacement handle. There must have been a lot of pressure placed on small children when they were given delicate playthings like this, and unjustly punished when the inevitable happened. I can just imagine the collective sigh of relief heard worldwide when children were given unbreakable toys made of plastic to toss about as they pleased.

This jug of similar form and decoration suggests what the original handle on mine might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of eBay

Pressed glass goblet with wood base, c.1860

April 22nd, 2017

This EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) goblet in the Honeycomb pattern was made in America during the Industrial Revolution between 1850 and 1870. It stands 3.25 inches high.

After the base snapped off, it was repaired at home with a primitive wood replacement. A quick and easy, yet inelegant, fix. Please take a look at two other similar pieces, Honeycomb pattern goblet and EAPG glass goblet, each with different shaped wood replacement bases. I would like to attend, or perhaps host, a dinner party with mismatched wine goblets such as these. And if things get rowdy, I may have to do a bit of re-repairing of my own.

This goblet with base intact shows what my goblet might have looked like before it became undone.

Photo courtesy of Brey Antiques