Sprigged stoneware jug, c.1840

June 26th, 2016

This small sprigged baluster form stoneware jug is decorated with applied vines of grapes around the middle and impressed leaves along the rim. A wash of brown glaze covers the top half of the jug. It was made in England in the mid 1800s, most likely in Bristol or Chesterfield, and measures 3.25 inches high and 4.5 inches from handle to spout.

Sometime in the late 1800s to early 1900s, the handle became detached. Luckily, the owner found a proficient tinsmith who fashioned a sturdy metal replacement with crimped detailing and horizontal support straps.

This jug with similar form and glaze shows what the original handle on mine might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr

 

Meissen teapot, c.1770

June 23rd, 2016

This hard paste porcelain teapot was made at the Meissen factory in Germany during the Marconi Period (1763 – 1774). It measures 4.5 inches high and 8 inches from handle to spout. It is decorated in polychrome overglaze enamels with a flower motif on both sides of the pot and on top of the lid. A cobalt mark of crossed swords and a dot can be found on the underside. The noticeable surface wear suggests that it was well loved and heavily used over the past 250 years.

You can guess that this teapot found its way into my collection due to its nicely done silver replacement spout. Repairs such as this were commonly done on spouts, as they were prone to chipping. This teapot was owned by a former French teacher at my high school who lives in Brussels and has been an early supporter of this blog. Merci beaucoup, Marienne!

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This teapot with similar form and decoration still as its original spout intact.

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Photo courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

The Kingman Tavern Museum mystery

June 11th, 2016

In the small hamlet of Cummington, Massachusetts, home of the esteemed ceramics gallery Ferrin Contemporary, sits the Kingman Tavern Museum, a small historical museum overflowing with antiques of local interest, donated mainly by the town’s residents. The collection includes a full scale replica of an early 1900s country store, miniature rooms by artist Alice Steele, and vintage clothes, tools, and household items. Among them is a curious set of porcelain plates riddled with early staple repairs.

On a shelf sitting alongside a handful of innocuous-looking plates and tableware are two stacks of thick walled bowls and platters, each with pronounced staple repairs. The cobalt blue stylized rabbit pattern is unfamiliar to me but appears to be American, late 19th century, and perhaps restaurant china. No one associated with the museum seems to know anything about the set or how they got there. If anyone recognizes the pattern please let me know and help solve this mystery!

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Worcester “Bride of Frankenstein” jug, c.1780

June 5th, 2016

This First Period Worcester sparrow beak cream jug has cobalt printed transfer decoration in the “Fisherman and Cormorant” or “Pleasure Boat” pattern. On the underside is a cobalt hatched crescent C mark, used at the Worcester factory between 1755 and 1790. It stands 3.5 inches tall.

At first glance this small jug appears to have a common metal pin repair to the handle, but upon closer inspection you will see it has a much more interesting tale to tell. This is a marriage repair: two different broken items that become one unique piece. I call this my Bride of Frankenstein Jug, in homage to my Monster Mug, a large Chinese export mug with a replacement handle made from a Mason’s Ironstone Hydra jug. In both cases, rather than a tinker making a metal replacement handle, a crafty repairer carefully removed the handles from damaged jugs and grafted them onto the bodies of these vessels. The ground down remains of the old handle are still visible, as the replacement is shorter than the original.

One can only imagine what became of the original broken donor jug, as once the usable parts were removed and used to bring the other jug back to life, its remains were most likely cast aside in a dump, eventually crumbling and returning to the earth.

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This identical jug shows what the original handle on mine looked like before it became undone.

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Photo courtesy of The Saleroom

Chinese porcelain sauce boat, c.1760

May 28th, 2016

This elongated Baroque serpentine form silver shape sauce boat was made in China during the Qianlong period (1736-1796). It is made of porcelain and decorated in the Famille Rose palette, with hand painted flowers, ducks, and garden stools in pink, green, blue, and white enamels with gilt highlights. It measures 9-3/4 inches long by 3-5/8 inches high.

Well over 150 years ago when the original simple loop handle snapped off, a “china mender” fashioned a replacement handle, which was riveted to the body. To help insulate the metal from the hot contents, rattan was wrapped and woven around the handle. This would have been one of a pair of matching sauce boats and was a part of a large dinner service. I wonder if it was separated from its mate and other “perfect” serving pieces, as was often the case.

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The original handle on this sauce boat, with identical form and similar decoration, gives you an idea of what the handle on my sauce boat would have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Online Galleries

Covered vegetable dish, c.1830

May 22nd, 2016

This English pottery covered vegetable dish measures 12.5 inches by 10.25 inches and has brown transfer decoration of Greek buildings, urns, and classical figures. Although a potter has yet to be confirmed, there is speculation that it may have been made by Hicks, Meigh, & Johnson in Shelton, Staffordshire, between 1822 and 1835. It is marked on the underside “ANTIQUES, Stone China”.

When the original handle on the cover broke off, a tinker made this chunky iron replacement. Although it in no way matches the elegance of the original handle, this sturdy repair allowed for the cover to function once again.

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This covered dish with similar form shows what the original handle on mine might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Antiques Image Archive

Inventive repairs in Prague

May 15th, 2016

I just returned from a trip to Prague where I was bowled over by the seemingly endless amount of stunning Art Nouveau architecture, paintings, and decorative arts. Naturally, I was on the lookout for ceramics and glassware with inventive repairs, and was delighted to actually stumble upon a few good examples.

The most interesting ones were hiding in plain sight within the Prague Castle walls at the Lobkowicz Palace, which houses the Princely Collections of paintings, instruments, original musical scores, and decorative arts.

Two pieces of early rare Italian maiolica have what appears to be unexceptional 19th century tinker repairs. One of the jugs has a clunky and poorly painted replacement spout. I am surprised that the repairs found on these pieces were not executed with more artistry and finesse.

Rather than write the captions for my photos, I have copied directly from the English translations found on the glass display cases:

“Examples of a large service from Savona in North Italy, late 17th century.”

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“Examples from an extensive service of maiolica, from the Pavia region of Lombardy, painted in polychrome with scenes of figures and ruined buildings in mountainous coastal landscapes, all within borders of detailed moulded and painted acanthus leaf, flowers and grotesques some with wheat husk edging: Italian, late 17th century.”

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Kintsugi repair, at last!

May 7th, 2016

Ever since I started my blog, people have asked me when I was going to start showing examples of Japanese kintsugi. The definition of kintsugi has been interpreted as “golden joinery”, “golden repair” and “to repair with gold”. I have long been an admirer of the ancient art of repairing broken ceramics and glassware using urushi (lacquer) and real gold powder but wanted to learn more about it before discussing it here.

I recently completed classes given by Gen Saratani in Manhattan and learned first hand how to repair a chipped plate. We were told to bring in a ceramic object with a chip and I knew immediately which piece to bring in: a French plate made by Sarreguemines, c.1890, with a large old chip at the bottom. The transfer decoration depicts an itinerant “china mender” repairing a broken vase using staples, while a distraught client looks on. A sign above him proclaims “I mend with staple and without staple: alabaster, wood, tortoiseshell , marble, amber, ivory, crystal, glass, earthenware, porcelain!! That’s the mender and repairman.” Beside him are a few plates repaired with staples. Next to the sign is a poster with the title “THE BROKEN JUG” showing a lovely lady holding a jug. My favorite detail is a stapled plate with a heavy weight hanging from it, to show how strong his staple repairs are. I do not recommend trying this at home.

Here is my completed plate with the chip now filled with gold covered lacquer. I will discuss the step by step technique I learned in upcoming posts, as well as show rare examples I have found in museums.

Thanks to Gen Saratani for his excellent teaching skills and to archeologist Alban Ceramo Horry for translating the text on the plate.

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Miniature cup with staples, c.1910

May 1st, 2016

This is the one of the smallest antiques with inventive repair I have ever seen. Made in England by the Crown Staffordshire Porcelain Co. Ltd. in the early 1900s, the cup is a mere 3/4 inches high and the matching saucer has a diameter of just 1 inch. Both are decorated with pink flowers on a cobalt and gilt ground. The cup is stamped in green on the underside CROWN above the image of a crown. The same mark is barely visible on the underside of the saucer.

The smallest of the 3 metal staples on the cup measures a mind-boggling 1/8 of an inch long. After the staples were applied, they were painted over to blend in and appear less offensive. I can only imagine the precision and skill needed to make this delicate repair.

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Here is an entire miniature tea service also made by Crown.

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Chinese floral cream jug, c.1760

April 23rd, 2016

This porcelain baluster form cream jug with sparrow beak spout has floral decoration painted with polychrome enamels in the Famille Rose palette. It was made in China, circa 1760, and measures 4.5 inches tall.

After the original porcelain handle broke off, a rattan-wrapped bronze replacement handle was added. The missing patch of woven rattan reveals a bent section of bamboo just under the handle which was added to help cushion the bare metal. The tactile ridges in the rattan also make the handle easier to grip.

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

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Photo courtesy of De Franse Lelie