Archive for April, 2015

V&A Ceramics Galleries revisited

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

I am back in London for a brief visit on my way to Ireland and the very first thing I did upon arrival was to head over to see the magnificent ceramics collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I could spend an entire day peering into the endless floor to ceiling glass cases filed with worldwide and world-class ceramics. Here are some of my favorite examples of inventive repairs found among the collection.

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Take a look at this previous post from just over a year ago, showing other examples from the collection.

Mortlake stoneware jug , c.1800

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

This heavy salt glazed stoneware ale jug was made in Mortlake, London, in the late 1700s to early 1800s. It has an attenuated baluster shape with applied sprigged decoration including a panel of “The Two Boors”, horses and hounds, classical figures, trees and a windmill on a mound. It stands 8″ high and has a rilled neck and a narrow base, much of which has been chipped away.

It’s apparent that the original handle is long gone but luckily for me, a tinsmith in the 1800s fashioned a wonderful metal replacement handle. It has crimped edges for extra support and a finger rest for comfort when tightly gripped. I imagine the original owner and a chum were inspired by the front panel depicting “The Two Boors”, drank too much ale and dropped the jug. But if it weren’t for our ancestors who drank to excess, my collection of ale jugs with inventive repairs would be minimal to nonexistent.

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This jug of similar form has its original handle intact.

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Photo courtesy of Nest Egg Antiques

Make-do’s at the MET, part 3

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Earlier this week I took a stroll through one of my favorite spots in Manhattan, The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. If the Smithsonian Museum is known as “The Nation’s Attic”, then I’d like to christen the Luce Center “The City’s Yard Sale” as it is packed from floor to ceiling with glass showcases filled with over 18,000 tchotchkes, including Tiffany lamps, Shaker boxes and Revere silver. This impressive collection of the museum’s overflow allows the public to research and take a peek into the MET’s closets. If you look closely among the rare Chinese porcelain and early English pottery you will find dozens of pieces in various states of disrepair including visible cracks, chips, worn paint and missing parts.

Here are some of my favorite make-do’s, all hoping to one day escape the confines of the study center’s curio cabinets and be placed alongside their more presentable friends in the “big house.”

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Qianlong period chamber pot, c.1770

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

I own a classic book about collecting antique English household pottery, “If these Pots Could Talk” by Ivor Noel Hume. Regarding the early usage of this particular pot, I’d rather not hear what it has to say. This Chinese export porcelain chamber pot with cover dates from the Qianlong period (1735-1796) and measures 5-1/2″ high to the top of the lid and is 9-1/2″ wide to the end of the handle. It is hand decorated in the Famille Rose palette with panels of birds and flowers with gilt highlights.

The thought of about how this pot lost its original handle is something I’d rather not dwell on but I just hope it was empty when it broke. As this was an expensive and necessary asset to the household, it was not thrown out but immediately repaired and put back in to use. Most likely it was taken to a china mender who made a sturdy metal replacement handle, then covered it in woven wicker to aid against further slippage.

I remember a certain customer in my parents antiques shop years ago who purchased a large Victorian ceramic slop bucket from a bedroom chamber set. Knowing what it was, she proceeded to boast that she intended to use it as a soup tureen at an upcoming dinner party she was throwing. If that pot could talk, I hope it would have warned the dinner guests not to eat the chowder!

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This identical example shows what the original handle on mine looked like before it broke off. Notice the multiple chips along the rim. I’m guessing that many chamber pots went bump in the night.

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Photo courtesy of Andrew Dando