Posts Tagged ‘metal bands’

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.”







IMG_7300 - Version 2

“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.”




Worcester inkwell & quill holder, c.1810

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016

This gorgeous porcelain drum form inkwell with conical reservoir and 3 quill holes is hand painted in polychrome enamels with gilt highlights. Made by Worcester around 1810, it is marked on the underside in red script “Goldfinch / Chamberlain’s Worcester.” It measures nearly 2.75 inches high with a diameter of just over 2.5 inches.

I can just imagine the dreaded day, well over 150 years ago, when this expensive inkwell dropped to the hard floor, breaking into 4 pieces. A skilled tinker or itinerant “china mender” came to the rescue by adding 7 iron staples and a copper band around the top, enabling the inkwell to function again. Putty was added to help seal gaps left along the rim and for added assurance that ink would not seep through the bonded cracks.









This is another rare example of a Chamberlains Worcester inkwell, minus the early repairs that mine has.

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Photo courtesy of The Saleroom

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





“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.

fern goblet

Large toy cannon, c.1890

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

This is the last and largest of the three cannons I purchased as a lot last November. It measures 12-1/4″ long, 4-3/4″ tall and I believe it was made in America in the late 1800s. When a young boy played a bit too rough and broke the toy cannon one Fourth of July in the early 1900s, I imagine his handy dad or grandfather carved a wood base to replace the broken cast iron original, adding embellishments such as paper stars and the letters “U S” to its sides. The barrel, with remains of the original black surface, sits on a metal plate and is fastened to the wood trolley using metal straps. The carved wood wheels are connected to a wood axel with metal pins and a strip of tin edging is attached to the back tail using numerous nail heads. I love the original dark green painted surface with gold trim and alligator finish, consistent on all three of the cannons, suggesting that they were repaired by the same person or at least in the same household. Please take a look at these other two posts, including a small and a medium-sized cannon, which make up the remainder of this terrific trio.






This intact bronze cannon with fanciful trolly shows where the inspiration came from for the carved wood base on mine.

bronze cannon

Photo courtesy of Live Auctioneers

Bahima milk container, c.1950

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

A wooden milk container, known as ekyanzi, was made in Uganda, Africa by the Hima/Bahima tribe in the mid-20th century. It measures 9-1/2″ tall, with a 2-1/2″ diameter opening. The wonderfully graphic indigenous repairs, including zipper-like alternating folded tabs to mend cracks, and coin-shaped plugs to fill holes, are made of recycled aluminum. The equally graphic woven covers are not always found with the pots and are collected independently.







A Bahima girl with her family’s wooden milk pots. The lighter colored pots are made from gourds.


Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Chinese Nanking mug, c.1790

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

What a mess this guy is! It looks like someone threw it out of a moving car. This humble porcelain mug with cobalt blue Nanking underglaze decoration began its life in pristine condition over 220 years ago in China and was most likely exported to North America or Europe.

Measures 5″ high with a 3-3/4″ diameter.

The original porcelain handle seems to have gone missing some time ago. The rim appears to have been nibbled at by a porcelain mouse.

Although this mug is riddled with numerous cracks and chips, it will make a splendid pencil holder.

All that holds the mug together now is a single tin strap, added by a tinsmith in the 19th century.

Bits of old fabric strips once sealed the cracks on the bottom. Looks to me like the linen used to wrap mummies.

This mug, clearly in much better condition than mine, still maintains its original handle. But I am sure my mug had a much more colorful life.

Photo courtesy of

Large glass apothecary jar, c.1880

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

This American made pressed glass apothecary jar is one of the largest antiques with inventive repair I have in my collection. It sits proudly on my office conference table, garnering much interest and curiosity from my employees and clients. The many cracks in the glass bowl are held tight with 8 vertical metal reinforcement straps and a top, center and bottom horizontal band, made by a tinsmith in the early 1900’s

The simple globular form is so timeless it almost defies period

The rim is decorated with a molded ribbed pattern

The surface on the metal bands have oxidized nicely over the past 100 years

Jar measures 13″ high and is 9-1/2″ wide

The apothecary jar pictured below has its original lid and has no cracks. It appears to have been made by the same manufacturer as mine, as the bases on each are nearly identical

Photo courtesy of Collectibles Articles

Child’s waste bowl, c.1830

Monday, July 19th, 2010

A child’s waste bowl with brown printed transfer decoration on soft paste pearlware pottery, made in England in the early 1800’s. This small waste bowl was part of a child’s tea set which would have included a teapot, cream jug, sugar jar, plates, cups & saucers. The waste bowl (aka slop bowl) was used for emptying unwanted cold tea before refilling a cup with hot tea

One side of the bowl has a printed design depicting a girl and boy chasing a butterfly…

…the other side shows the same girl and boy after the successful capture of the butterfly

After the bowl was dropped and broke in to four pieces, it was taken to a tinsmith who created an elaborate metal truss to keep it intact. A puddle of light blue glaze seen on the inner rim confirms this to be a piece of pearlware pottery. Bowl measures 2-1/2″ high and has a diameter of 5″

Stoneware & cobalt slip jug, c.1870

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

American 1-1/2 gallon stoneware jug has an incised maker’s stamp at the top with cobalt overglaze which reads “E & L P NORTON, BENNINGTON VT”, indicating that it was made by Edward and Luman Preston Norton (1861-1881)

Jug, measuring 11-1/2″ high, has a traditional floral decoration rendered in cobalt slip

When the jug was dropped sometime in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, the cracks on the side of the jug were reinforced by a pair of iron straps

Thanks to Hugh R Fox for providing information on the potter