Posts Tagged ‘brass’

Brass candle holder with wood base, c.1880

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

I wonder how many fires were started as a result of broken candle holders. I have come across many examples with unusual replacement bases, including metal funnels, coconut shells, and blocks of wood. This is not surprising, as candleholders were handled everyday by various household members in every room of the house.

This candle holder was made in England in the late 1800s. It stands 7.5 inches high. Most likely it was one of a pair that might have been separated from its “perfect” mate. After the original brass base became detached from the stem, an overscaled wood replacement was fashioned. This well made base, complete with beveled edges and cut-line detailing along the top, measures 5 x 5 inches and appears to be a homemade make-do.

What ever happened to the matching candle holder without repair, you may ask? The story of The Prince and the Pauper comes to mind, so I imagine it has spent the past 130+ years in a castle, polished within an inch of its life, sitting prominently on a large sideboard and hobnobbing with other “perfect” things.

This pair of candlesticks suggests what the original octagonal base on mine might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Selling Antiques

Glass trumpet vase, c.1900

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

I found this pretty Bohemian crimped-edge glass vase at a small antiques shop near my house in the Catskills a few summers ago. It is decorated with enamel and gilt flowers in the Art Nouveau style and measures 10 inches high and 6.5 inches in diameter at the base. It was made in Europe at the turn of the 19th century.

Although it has an unusual make-do base repurposed from a brass lamp, I hesitated at first as it didn’t call out to me as most antiques with inventive repairs do. But I ended up buying it and in the years since it has grown on me. The dealer I purchased it from had polished the replacement base within an inch of its life, buffing the brass to match the lustre of the gilding. Typically, I prefer my early repairs to have a dark, rich patina, but in this case I like the gold on gold coloring. It just seems right.

This vase of similar form suggests what the base on mine might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of eBay

Nostetangen goblets with silver repairs

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

During a recent trip to Oslo, Norway, I discovered that the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design is packed with antiques with inventive repairs. I was particularly impressed by the abundance of intricately engraved 18th century German and Norwegian glassware, many with added silver mounts repairing snapped goblet stems and missing bases. Reflecting their rarity, many of these priceless presentational pieces were brought back to life by esteemed Norwegian jewelers and silversmiths in the 18th and 19th century. Here are some of my favorites:

Goblet (center) engraved by H. G. Kohler, artist and engraver at Nøstetangen Glassworks, on the occasion of the anointing of King Christian VII, 1767. The crimped silver joint was added later to repair the broken stem.

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Goblet, Nøstetangen, ca. 1766-1770. Engraved by H. G. Kohler with later ornate silver replacement base.

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Goblet (center) engraved in Bohemia, c. 1720, with silver cuff to repair a snapped stem.

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Both goblets were engraved at Nøstetangen Glassworks by an unknown engraver in 1748. The goblet at left has a silver cuff repairing a broken stem and the goblet at right has a brass replacement base.

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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.

“Not a make-do” Yixing teapot, c.1890

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

I purchased this little teapot thinking it was an example of Chinese Yixing ware with an elaborate early repair. It measures 7-1/2″ from spout to handle and is about 4″ high to top of finial. The shape appears to be typically Yixing but the brass lid, spout and horizontal strap, as well as the unusual incised mark on the underside, made me a bit suspicious. Now I feel the teapot dates from the latter part of the 19th century and was made in China for export to the Middle East, and that the mark on the base is Arabic. The brass spout and lid were most likely a part of the original design to help prolong the life of the teapot and not added to replace broken or missing parts. Learning to know the difference between a piece with an inventive repair and a piece that was designed with metal mounts can be a valuable, though sometimes a costly, lesson. Luckily, I did not pay very much for this “not-a-make-do” teapot.

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“Cat Tails & Fern” pattern goblet, c.1880

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

This EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) goblet was made between 1880 and 1890 in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia by Richards & Hartley Flint Glass Co. EAPG, strictly an American invention, was manufactured throughout the US during the Victorian period, from 1850 to 1910. It is estimated that there are upward of 3,000 different patterns, although closer to 1,000 patterns were most commonly used. This goblet, in the Cat Tails & Fern pattern, measures 6″ high and has a visible 3-mold mark.

After the base snapped off, I am assuming sometime in the early 1900s, an itinerate mender or perhaps the original owner attached a 6-sided brass sleeve to hold the two broken pieces back together. This subtle yet effective quick-fix repair did the trick to make the drinking vessel function again. I like the addition of the tiny red gummed label on the bottom with a cryptic “9999” written in cursive ink, the meaning known only to the original scribe.

This goblet with the same pattern is one of 1,100 donated to the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, by Dr. Elizabeth Garrison in 1987.

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Moser enameled glass pokal, c.1890

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

This tall, regal enameled amber glass pokal was made at the end of the 19th century by the esteemed glass manufacturer Moser, in Karlsbad, Austria; today known as Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. Ludwig Moser opened his first factory in 1857 and soon his artfully decorated glassware found its way into worldwide collections of presidents, popes, king, queens, and Liberace. To the best of my knowledge, this pokal, which measures 15.75 inches tall, was not owned by Liberace. As the bulk of the pokal is quite heavy, I am not surprised that at some point it broke in two, snapping off at the base. Luckily for me, an early practitioner of recycling secured the remaining unscathed upper portion of it to a sturdy brass lamp base, allowing it to be filled to the brim with beer or display an arrangement of fresh flowers.

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This tall amber glass vase made by Moser has its original base intact.

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Photo courtesy of Trocadero

Pair of armorial sauce boats, c.1790

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

As collectors, we all have stories of “the one that got away” and for me it happened in June 1991, on the very first day I started collecting antiques with inventive repairs. Having landed in London the night before and still jet lagged, I stumbled down Portobello Road and wandered into a crowded stall selling porcelains. I spotted a pair of Chinese Export sauce boats each with a replaced metal loop handle. Pleading with the dealer to sell me just one, which I could barely afford, she broke up the pair and I happily walked away with what would be the start of my collection. Even then, I immediately regretted not being able to afford its mate, but I was pleased to at least own the one. To this day, I keep hoping I will come across the orphan I left behind and be able to reunite the two. So, if anyone can help me locate the long lost twin, I will be forever grateful and you will be rewarded for your excellent sleuthing!

The lone survivor of my maddening “Sophie’s Choice” moment

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You can imagine how happy I was to have been recently contacted by dealer Polly Latham of Boston, MA, offering me a pair of Chinese Export sauce boats, each with identical replacement handles and decorated with an armorial coat of arms, no less. This pair, a part of a larger dinner service, was made for export to the English market at the end of the 18th century and bear the Arms of Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale (1759-1839). Maitland, a noted statesman, politician and controversial social and political critic of his time, criticized the clergy, condemned slavery and was an ardent supporter of the French Revolution. The motto under the coat-of-arms, intricately painted in polychrome enamels with gilt highlights, translates to “Wisdom and Courage”. Each measures 2 inches high and 7.75 inches long.

I am pleased to proclaim that as long as I am the caretaker of this fine pair, they shall remain unseparated.

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The replaced handles are made of forged brass, covered in woven rattan, and pinned to the end of the sauce boats with two metal rivets. The rattan covering is not only decorative but also used to insulate the metal handle from the hot contents.

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Take a look at the rest of the large dinner service, all bearing the arms of Maitland, including a pair of identical sauce boats with original handles intact, located in the center of the middle shelf.

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Photo courtesy of Polly Latham Antiques

Small toy cannon, c.1880

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

I hit the jackpot this past November while visiting friends in southern Vermont for the Thanksgiving holiday. On “Black Friday”, my dear friend Hilary and I ventured out to visit a few local antiques shops when I stumbled upon a set of three toy cannons, graduating in size, and each with a unique inventive repair.

This little gem, the smallest of the three, measures 3-1/2″ long and is 1-1/2″ tall. The tiny cast brass barrel, with its lovely green patina, is set in to the simple, yet effective, replacement base carved from a small block of wood, and held in place by two metal loops.

I particularly like the the three steps in the back and how the top of the wooden base was carved out in the exact shape of the cannon’s barrel so it would fit snugly in place. The dark greenish-brown painted surface remains mostly intact but shows some wear due, no doubt, to endless hours of battles played out in the safe confines of a patriotic young boy’s back yard. These toy cannons might have been manufactured in 1876, to help commemorate America’s centennial.

I will be posting the other two cannons from the same lot in the coming months, so be on the lookout. And please take a look at another small toy cannon, with a much cruder home-made repair, previously posted in these pages.

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This toy cast iron ship’s signal cannon from the early 1800s shows what the original base on my cannon might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Land and Sea Collection

Mystery vessel with incised brass collar

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

I purchased this large and extremely heavy ceramic vessel about one year ago from a dealer who knew absolutely nothing about it. In the ensuing months, I have tried my best to research its country of origin and age, only to come to a screeching halt. A friend who works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art forwarded the photos on to a couple of experts in their fields and the results were less than satisfying. His response was: “The Islamic folks think it looks Ancient Near Eastern and the Ancient Near East folks think it looks Islamic”. I then sent the photos to a collector of ancient Chinese ceramics living in Hong Kong who had this to say: “…my personal thinking it maybe an old piece, possibly around Yuan-Ming 14th-17th century from the cutting of foot rim, glaze and the shape. You can imagine..how much there we spent times and money just to repaired by brass to mouth rim. We must used logically consideration. Last but not least, I predicted it’s from some kind small kilns in China which just a few people can identified…”. Hmm.

These are the facts I do know: the vessel has a distressed green crackle glaze over a red clay pottery body. It measures 14″ high, has an opening of 4-1/4″ and is 8″ wide from handle to handle. An asymmetrical brass collar with an incised floral pattern is covering most of the neck, presumably masking a damaged top. As far as the repair goes, it seems to be of Middle Eastern design, possibly Turkish.

I would greatly appreciate any information anyone may have to help me identify this truly puzzling piece.