Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

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.







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.





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.


Chinese teapot with replaced metal handle, c.1760

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

This globular form porcelain teapot was made in China in the mid-1700s for export to Europe and North America. It measures 6 inches high and 9 inches from handle to spout and is decorated in the famille rose palette with a coral scale ground and puce flowers.

Soon after the teapot dropped and the handle shattered, it was taken to a tinker, jeweler or metalsmith who fashioned this nicely made metal replacement handle. To help insulate delicate hands from the hot contents, the handle was encased in woven rattan. I have dozens of examples of woven rattan handles and have noticed distinctly different patterns among them. I am hoping to one day match up the woven handle patterns to specific makers, although I know that is a long shot. As an added bonus, a small section of missing rattan has been patched using string, no doubt at a later date, a true case of a make-do making-do.

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This teapot with similar form and decoration shows what the original loop handle on my teapot looked like before it took a tumble.


Photo courtesy of Earle Vandekar of Knightsbridge

Chinese Mandarin cup, c.1760

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

This cup is a mess! It’s a 2.5 inch high Chinese porcelain cup from the Qianlong period (1736-1795) with multi-color enamel decoration in the Mandarin style. Well over 150 years ago when it dropped and shattered into 12 pieces, it was most likely taken to an itinerant “dish mender” who carefully applied 15 metal staples to bring it back to life. A bit of plaster was used to fill in a few gaps left by lost fragments. Past owners really must have cherished this little mug, as it managed to survive many centuries looking like this. As my grandmother would have said, “Oy Vey!”

This cup, in much better condition than mine, shows what an intact example looks like.


Photo courtesy of eBay

Make-do’s at the MET, part 4

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

I spotted this during my last visit to the American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The description in the showcase says more than I could possibly say:

“This extraordinary punchbowl features a remarkably faithful replica of the engraved certificate, dated December 1785, issued to Ebenezer Stevens (1751-1823) by the Society of the Cincinnati. Stevens was a major-general in command of the New York artillery and was vice president of the New York branch of the society. The decorative silver-gilt mount on the rim and around the foot were probably made during the early nineteenth century in response to an earlier crack—evidence of the extent to which the bowl was valued by its owner…”

Punch Bowl
Date: ca. 1786–90
Geography: China
Culture: Chinese, for American market
Medium: Porcelain
Dimensions: Diam. 16 in. (40.6 cm)
Classification: Ceramics
Credit Line: Gift of Lucille S. Pfeffer, 1984
Accession Number: 1984.449





Imari teapot with silver spout, c.1720

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

This thrice-repaired Chinese porcelain globular form teapot with Japanese influenced Imari decoration, is painted with a large chrysanthemum motif in underglaze blue, overglaze iron red and gilding, surrounded by stylized scrolling foliage. The bullet shape was inspired by European silver of the same period. It measures 4-1/2″  high and 7-1/2″  wide from handle to spout and dates to around 1720.

After the teapot was dropped over 200 years ago, resulting in a broken handle and spout, it was taken to a skilled silversmith who created this unusual silver zoomorphic replacement spout, added an engraved silver collar and used metal staples to repair the handle. In my opinion, the silver additions transform a perfectly nice teapot into a unique work of art.







This nearly identical teapot shows what the original spout on mine looked like before it took a tumble.

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Photo courtesy of Moorabool Antiques

Porcelain jar with figures, c.1890

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

This small Chinese porcelain “Kangxi revival” jar was made during the latter part of the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), Guangxu period (1875-1908). It is decorated in cobalt blue underglaze with eight figures and stands about 5″  high, with a four character mark on the underside.

At some point during its early life this jar was dropped, resulting in a complex fracture. But rather than tossing the broken pieces out on to the curb, they were taken to a china mender who lovingly restored the jar using metal staples, aka rivets. Judging by the form and the use of double rivets, the repair appears to have been done in the Middle East, where recycled wire was used by itinerant street menders to form flattened rivets.








This jar has a similar form and decoration and remains in one piece.

bw jar

Photo courtesy of Petrie Rogers

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.









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

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.”












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!











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.


Photo courtesy of Andrew Dando