Posts Tagged ‘blue & white’

Qianlong punch pot, c.1760

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

This large porcelain Chinese punch pot with blue & white floral decoration was made during the Qianlong period (1736-1795). It measures nearly 9 inches high and 11 inches from handle to spout.

In the mid-1700s, alcoholic punch, which consisted of spirits, water, sugar, nutmeg, and spices, was served in what looks like oversized teapots. I guess too much alcohol was added to an early batch, as whoever held this pot at the time was a bit tipsy and dropped it. After the handle shattered, it was taken to a tinker who made a bronze replacement. The raw metal was wrapped in wicker to protect one’s hands from the hot contents of the pot. Over the past 200 years or so since the repair was made, much of the wicker has fallen off, exposing the metal. I can only hope that the next person who fills this pot with hot punch remains sober and keeps a tight grasp on it.

This punch pot of similar form shows with the original handle on mine most likely looked like.

Photo courtesy of Doyle

Chinese dollhouse snuff bottle, c.1700

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

I seem to have a thing for miniatures. I marvel at the craftsmanship of creating tiny versions of larger pieces, which requires more time and skill, as well as good eyesight and nimble fingers. When I was at a street market in Egypt many years ago, I saw hundreds of lanterns made of tin and painted glass. One vendor had minuscule working lanterns, no more than 3 inches, which held tiny birthday cake candles. Even though they were a fraction of the size of the other lanterns, they were the same price and took just as long to make, if not longer.

So you can imagine how I was doubly thrilled when I found this miniature porcelain dollhouse snuff bottle with an inventive repair. It was made in China during the Kangxi period (1662-1722), has blue underglaze decoration of figures, and measures 2.75 inches tall. But there’s more to the story, as this bottle started its life as a vase. Well over 150 years ago, after its neck broke off, a silversmith added a silver collar with etched decoration, cork, and a top attached to a spoon, transforming the broken vase into a functional snuff bottle. It has a sword shaped Dutch hallmark dating the repair to the mid-1800s.

I now have five tiny Chinese dollhouse miniatures in my collection and try not to inhale too deeply around them.

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This pair of miniature vases with similar form and decoration show what the original neck on my vase looked like before it was transformed into a snuff bottle.

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Photo courtesy of Santos

Large jug with woven handle, c.1820

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Early in my collecting days I purchased a small pottery cream jug with blue & white transfer decoration and a wonderful wicker replacement handle. I had not seen a repair quite like it before, woven, I believe, by a basket maker. Flash forward about 20 years when I was notified by one of my favorite dealers in the UK who offered me another jug with a similar woven handle. The photo he sent did not show the scale, so I had no idea what size the jug was. When an oversized parcel arrived a couple of weeks later, I unpacked what turned out to be a HUGE jug.

This Dutch shape pottery jug with blue and white transfer decoration and woven rattan replacement handle was made in England in the first quarter of the 1800s. Measuring 9.25 inches high and 12.5 inches wide from lip to handle, it is marked “Lasso” on the underside. It must have been much loved over the past 200 years, as is evident by the unusual replacement handle and large hole worn away on the bottom. Although unable to hold liquids today, this impressive jug and ultimate survivor still commands respect merely by sitting quietly on a shelf in my home.

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This jug with similar form and decoration shows what the original handle on my jug may have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Applecross Antiques

Chinese coffee can, c.1750

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

This cylindrical form porcelain coffee can (or coffee cup, outside of the UK) is decorated with cobalt blue underglaze decoration and has brown glaze along the rim. It was made in China during the Qianlong period (1711-1799) for export most likely to North America and Europe. It measures 2.5 inches tall.

Well over one hundred years ago, this small cup slipped from someone’s grasp, resulting in its handle snapping off. Rather than being tossed out, the precious cup was taken to a “china mender” who fashioned a sturdy iron replacement handle wrapped in rattan. The woven rattan acts as an insulant from the hot contents and allows for a tighter grip.

This coffee can with the same form and similar decoration shows what the original handle on mine might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Etsy

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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Worcester “Bride of Frankenstein” jug, c.1780

Sunday, 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

Inventive repairs in Prague

Sunday, 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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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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Wu Shuang Pu cup, c.1870

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

This Chinese porcelain cup is decorated in cobalt blue with a Peerless Hero figure, stacked bottles and calligraphy taken from Wu Shuang Pu (Table of Peerless Heroes), a late 17th century book of woodcut prints by Jin Guliang. The cup measures 2-3/4 inches high, with an opening diameter of 3-1/2 inches.

After the cup broke in half, over 100 years ago, it was repaired with pairs of metal staples set in cement. Judging from the flattened lozenge-shaped staples made from repurposed wire, this repair was most likely done in the Middle East where itinerant china menders set up shop directly in the streets. But even with the doubled up staples and binding cement, more than a few staples have jumped ship, leaving just tiny empty holes as a reminder of its time in the china mender’s hands.

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Chinese dollhouse sugar bowl, c.1690

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

This Chinese export porcelain dollhouse miniature with blue underglaze floral decoration dates from the Kangxi period (1662-1722) and stands nearly 2 inches tall. Contrary to popular belief, miniatures like this were displayed in doll houses owned by wealthy adults and were not intended to be played with by children.

Surprisingly, this little gem was not always a sugar bowl but actually started life as a baluster form vase. After it took a tumble, a silversmith kept the surviving middle section, added a minuscule silver lid, handles and base, and voila…a sugar bowl was born. A tiny Dutch hallmark in the shape of a sword can be seen on the bottom of the base, dating it to 1814-1905. The small sword mark was used on silver pieces too small to accommodate full hallmarks.

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Shown below is an intact miniature vase, standing just 2-1/2″ tall. It appears that the middle section on a similar vase was used to make the sugar bowl.

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