Archive for the ‘plate/platter’ Category

French faience patriotique plate, c.1790

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

To commemorate the end of the French Revolution, post-revolutionaries planted trees to celebrate their freedom. This well-used earthenware faience patriotique plate with tin glaze was made in Nevers, France, in the late 1700s. It is made of red clay and decorated with polychrome enamels to emulate Chinese porcelain.  The Liberty Tree depicted here reflects the patriotism of the French.

The underside of this plate reveals even more history, as over a dozen rusted iron staples still hold the damaged plate together after it was shattered more than 200 years ago. Plaster was used to fill the gaps that were left surrounding the tiny holes. To me, the unintentional overall pattern made by the staples on the underside are just as interesting as the design made by the artist on the front of the plate.

 

The Kingman Tavern Museum mystery

Saturday, 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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Kintsugi repair, at last!

Saturday, 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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Chinese porcelain plate with staples, c.1710

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

This early 1700s hexagonal porcelain plate was made in China during the Kangxi Period (1662-1722). It has an unglazed hexagonal rim and foot rim, with a cobalt blue underglaze garden design and floral border. It  measures 9 inches in diameter.

After the plate took a tumble, it was put back together using three large metal staples, aka rivets, as well as an unusual pewter plug. Unlike the majority of the staple repairs I come across, the holes drilled to accommodate the staples go all the way through to the front, resulting in a nice dot pattern. With strong graphics appearing on the front and back of the plate, I deliberately display both sides.

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Stapled octagonal crab plate, c.1750

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Most people I encounter are astonished the first time they see broken ceramics held together with staples. I was, too, at a young age when I saw a small stapled dish. The first words uttered are typically “how did they do that?” If you type that very question into my search box on this page, a post from a few years ago will pop up and help answer that much asked question.

Sadly, most pieces repaired with staples, aka rivets, are not signed by the menders so we have no idea who repaired them. I have seen 18th century English and American newspaper advertisements and calling cards from tinkers and jewelers offering their repair services, as well as early prints showing “china menders” with their tools. Today, antique ceramics with staple repairs are not uncommon but many rare examples are quickly disappearing, as restorers will carefully remove staples, fill the holes and erase all evidence of the original “honest” repair. Although I have dozens of examples of early staple repair on a variety of forms, I still get a thrill when I encounter a rare or unusual example untouched by a modern restorer.

This porcelain plate was made in Jingdezhen, China, during the Qing dynasty (1740-1760) and measures 8-1/2″ in diameter. It is decorated in the Famille rose palette and features a large blue crab, crayfish, flowers, and a border with gilt detailing. Early in its life it was dropped, cleanly breaking it in half. An experienced china mender reattached the plate using six small evenly spaced brass staples. Repairs such as this are so tight and secure that the plate can be returned to the dinner table without fear of it coming undone. That is, unless another clumsy person lets it slip from his or her hands.

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Another example, nearly identical to mine, is in the permanent collection of the British Museum. It was donated in the 19th century by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, described by Marjorie Caygill, historian of the British Museum, as “arguably the most important collector in the history of the British Museum, and one of the greatest collectors of his age”.

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Photo courtesy of the British Museum

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Wishing you all the best during the holiday season and for a healthy and Happy New Year!

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Spanish tin glazed plate, c.1800

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

My friend Marianne gave us this lovely Spanish pottery plate, along with two other similar ones, as a wedding gift when we visited her in Brussels last spring. It is tin glazed with a polychrome design of a bird at center and a wide stylized floral border. The deep plate measures just over 14″  in diameter and was made in Spain at the turn of the 18th century. The enormous iron staples measure a whopping 1-1/4″  long and hold together the three broken pieces. Some of the staples have fallen out since they were first attached to the plate by an itinerant china mender over 150 years ago. At a much later date, metal wire was wrapped and clipped to the back of the plate to form a crude but effective hanging device.

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Flight & Barr dish with 31 brass staples, c.1805

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

This high quality porcelain dish was made in Worcester, England, by manufacturers Flight & Barr. It is decorated with a wide Gothic influenced geometric border in gilt and burnt orange enamel. It measures 11-1/4″ by 7-7/8″ and dates to early 19th century. The underside has a beautifully hand painted mark in puce which reads “Flight & Barr, Worcester, Manufactures to Their Majesties,” as well as a small crown and an incised letter B.

After the dish was dropped and brought to a china mender for restoration, 31 brass staples were attached to make the dish complete and usable once again. The eight holes in-between the six staples at one end indicate that an earlier repair was made to the dish, but apparently they were removed. The second restoration, executed well over 100 years ago, was a success and the sturdy dish was most likely put back in service for use at the dinner table. But I would rather just admire it for the beauty and ingenuity of the repair and display it wrong side up.

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Kangxi plate with replaced chip, c.1700

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

This porcelain plate, which measures 11-1/4″ in diameter, was made in China for export to North America and Europe during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (1662-1722). The nicely detailed underglaze design in various hues of blue, consists of 8 panels of birds, animals and flowers, with a central circular motif and a border of prunus and lotus blossoms. The underside reveals a variation of the Lingzhi fungus mark, which looks to me more like a lotus blossom.

In the 18th or early 19th century, when the plate became damaged, a china repairer smoothed out the jagged edges left by the break and created a larger, more even space to accommodate a new replacement piece – much like a dentist preparing to replace a missing tooth or insert a mouth guard for teeth grinding. The repairer formed a replacement chip repurposed from a smaller broken plate with similar blue decoration and drilled holes in three places on both the large plate and the chip. He then used four strands of thin wire to attach the chip and cement to fill in the holes around the wire. The replacement chip, which is literally rough around the edges, appears to be dancing on the edge of the plate, suspended by a tiny wire harness.

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Pierced creamware fruit basket stand, c.1790

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

This 8-1/2″ round creamware fruit basket stand with nine lobed pierced openwork panels was made in England in the late 1700s. Creamware, a lightweight form of earthenware with a transparent high gloss glaze, was developed by Wedgwood in the mid-1700s and became so popular that it was soon copied by rival potters in Staffordshire, Derby and Leeds. It was originally paired with a matching basket, pierced to allow the fruit to breathe and not spoil as quickly. Because the openwork pattern is so delicate, many surviving examples are damaged. But I have not seen many with this unusual repair, which at first glance appears to be a standard staple job. Upon closer inspection you will see the “staples” are actually tightly wrapped bundles of ultra-thin brass wire. Many of the wire reinforcements pass through the open pierced pattern, making good use of existing holes straddling the cracks. This piece ended up with stains, no doubt a result of the dark fruit juice dripping out of the basket above and seeping through the cracks of the light colored, soft-paste pottery.

Though cracked and stained, it is a welcomed addition to my collection, especially since it was recently given to me by my high school French teacher who carried it on her lap during a flight from her home in Belgium to New York. Merci beaucoup, Marianne!

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Both the fruit basket and matching stand pictured below are in tip-top shape, neither in need of wire reinforcement.

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Photo courtesy of 1stdibs