Posts Tagged ‘staples/rivets’

Chinese mug with fireworks decoration, c.1760

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

In honor of Independence Day I am pleased to share with you a Chinese porcelain mug with a fireworks theme, made for export to North America and Europe during the Qianlong period (1736-1795). It stands 4-3/4″ high and is decorated in the Mandarin style with cloud-shaped cartouches executed in famille rose enamels, and containing floral sprigs and a family tableau depicting a child lighting fireworks.

I wouldn’t be surprised if during the first organized 4th of July celebration in 1777, a raucous party involving the lighting of fireworks forced this mug to fly off a table and crash to the ground, causing its handle to shatter and the bottom to fall off. Rather than throw out the expensive and cherished mug, it was brought to a local tinker who fashioned a sturdy brass replacement handle. To help insulate the handle from its hot contents, it was wrapped in decoratively woven rattan. The bottom was reattached to the body using five large brass staples with a bond so tight it could hold liquid without leaking. As china menders typically did not sign their work, there is no way to know who was responsible for this repair, but I imagine they each had their own signature style in weaving the rattan so that they could distinguish their work from each other.

These mugs of similar form show what the original handle on my mug might have looked like.

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Photo courtesy of Mount Vernon’s Mystery Midden

Flight & Barr dish with 31 brass staples, c.1805

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

This high quality porcelain dish was made in Worcester, England, by manufacturers Flight & Barr. It is decorated with a wide Gothic influenced geometric border in gilt and burnt orange enamel. It measures 11-1/4″ by 7-7/8″ and dates to early 19th century. The underside has a beautifully hand painted mark in puce which reads “Flight & Barr, Worcester, Manufactures to Their Majesties,” as well as a small crown and an incised letter B.

After the dish was dropped and brought to a china mender for restoration, 31 brass staples were attached to make the dish complete and usable once again. The eight holes in-between the six staples at one end indicate that an earlier repair was made to the dish, but apparently they were removed. The second restoration, executed well over 100 years ago, was a success and the sturdy dish was most likely put back in service for use at the dinner table. But I would rather just admire it for the beauty and ingenuity of the repair and display it wrong side up.

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Worcester “King of Prussia” mug, c.1757

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

I purchased this first period bell-shaped Worcester porcelain mug from a dealer in the UK who has been feeding my compulsive desire for antiques with inventive repairs for many years. It has a black transfer print of Frederick the Great, the King of Prussia, along with military trophies, an angel blowing a trumpet, and a putto with a wreath. It is dated 1757 under his left arm and marked RH (for Robert Hancock) Worester and an anchor mark for Richard Holdship (a rebus for his last name.) The decoration was taken from Richard Houston’s engraving after a painting by Antoine Pesne.

This is one of those items that if I saw one in a shop in “perfect” condition, I would secretly wish it had an early repair, as I am drawn to strong graphic images on ceramics. Luckily for me, this one has a metal replacement handle, attached by a metalsmith after the original loop handle broke off, as well as two metal staples to help stabilize a crack.

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During my recent visit to the UK, I spotted the same transfer decoration on numerous pieces of ceramics included in many different museum collections. This jug can be found in the fabulous ceramics collection at the V&A.

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This mug, with similar form, decoration, and its original handle intact, shows what the handle on my mug looked like before it snapped off.

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Photo courtesy of Stockspring Antiques

Miniature Coalport cup & saucer, c.1900

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

This minute bone china porcelain cup & saucer duo, made at the turn of the 20th century at the Coalport factory in Shropshire, England, has some of the smallest metal staple repairs I have ever seen. It has printed Japanese style floral decoration in the Japanese Imari palette, consisting of iron red, cobalt blue and gilt enamels. Both pieces are marked with a green stamp on the underside, dating them to 1890-1920. The saucer measures 3-1/4″ in diameter and the cup stands nearly 1-1/2″  high with an opening of 2″.

After the dainty saucer fell to the floor, breaking into six small fragments, it was brought to a china mender who pieced the puzzle back together. Using 10 custom made metal staples, the smallest being a mere 1/4″ long, the saucer was once again able to function as a support to the tiny cup it carried. Imagine the nimble fingers capable of creating such fine work!

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Mandarin bell shaped mug, c.1770

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

In honor of Mother’s Day I am presenting a Chinese porcelain bell shaped mug from the Qianlong period (1736-1795), decorated with a domestic scene, including a mother and her children. The colorful decoration is hand painted in the Famille Rose palette and includes cobalt blue borders, floral sprays and cartouches. I particularly like the young boy balancing on a rickety red lacquered table while holding a bird above his head, which I can imagine resulted in his mother saying “son, get down from that table NOW or you will fall and break your neck.”

I am hoping the boy survived his table climbing antics unharmed, but it seems this 6-1/4″ tall mug was not so lucky. Sometime in its early life, the mug slipped from the hands of a thirsty drinker and it crashed to the floor, resulting in a broken handle and a large crack to one side. Because Chinese porcelain was expensive and highly valued in the 18th century, it was taken to a “china mender” who formed a bronze replacement handle and covered it in woven rattan for insulation. Four metal staples were applied to stabilize the crack and the mug was able to be used again.

Happy Mother’s Day and remember children, listen to your mother!

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This mug with similar form and decoration still has its original loop handle intact.

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Photo courtesy go Auction Atrium

What the Dickens?

Monday, April 7th, 2014

I am back at my hotel in Notting Hill, resting up after taking on the National Gallery, the British Museum, and the Charles Dickens Museum all in one day. Needless to say, I spotted many a “make-do” at the two large institutions, but I was surprised to find a 19th century cut crystal and silver ewer with staple repairs to the base hiding in plain sight in Charles Dickens’ dining room!

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Russian Gardner cups & saucers, c.1900

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

To celebrate the conclusion of my work on Season 2 of The Americans, a television show on the FX network set in 1982 about a pair of Russian spies living as Americans in Washington, D.C., I am posting this pair of Russian tea cups and saucers. They were made by the Gardner factory at the turn of the 20th century and are decorated with gold leaves, and hand painted flowers in white medallions, set against a deep red ground. They are part of a larger tea set, many of which were exported to the Turkish Empire and Central Asia. The cups measure about 2″ high, with an opening of 3-1/4″, and the saucers have a diameter of 5-1/4″. Both cups were broken and repaired by a china mender in the early to mid 1900s, after Sascha dropped the entire tea service while entertaining Anastasia and Vladimir. неуклюжая девочка!

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Cup 1 (top) with gilt leaf decoration, has hand cut metal staples that still hold the two broken pieces tightly together. It has a factory mark stamped in red on the underside.

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Cup 2 (bottom) has a yellowed replaced chip, possibly from another cup. Once repaired with metal staples, the cup is now held together by a sloppy glue job, although the empty staple holes are still visible.

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This partial tea set was also made by Gardner and includes a cup and saucer much like mine.

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Photo courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Cauldon porcelain tyg, c.1910

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

This beautifully painted three-handled porcelain tyg was made in Staffordshire, England by Cauldon, c.1905-20. It is hand painted in polychrome enamels with gilt detailing in the Highland Cattle pattern, signed D Birbeck. It is marked in green on the underside CAULDON LTD England and measures 7″ high, with an opening diameter of 5-1/4″.

Tygs are muli-handled drinking cups designed to be passed around and shared by many drinkers. The space on the rim between the handles delineates a surface for each drinker, a more sanitary solution to a single handled mug. Tygs date to the 15th century and were popular into the 17th century, but today they are used for decoration and the nasty old habit of sharing a beer in a traditional mug lives on.

We will never know if this fine tyg suffered its many breaks as a result of being thrown across the room during a bar brawl or if it merely slipped from grandma’s hands as she was dusting it. But thankfully it was brought to the attention of a china mender, who pieced the puzzle back together using 17 metal staples.

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King George VI & Queen Elizabeth loving cup, c.1937

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

This colorful porcelain loving cup was made by the Paragon China Company in Stoke-on-Trent, England, in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The figural lion handles and pastel colors give it a distinctive Art Deco look. At first glance the cup appears to be in tip-top condition, but upon closer inspection you can see all is not perfect for the royal couple. I imagine that after a robust toasting to the King and Queen, the loving cup clanked against a large stoneware tankard and broke in half. Surprisingly, it was not glued back together but brought to a china repairer who applied metal staples to make it whole again. With the invention of new types of glues and cements, developed for use during World War II, civilians were doing their own repairs at home, so by the mid-20th century, traditional staple repairs were becoming obsolete.

It seems that the china repairer or the owner of the cup couldn’t leave well enough alone and tried to mask the repair by painting over the staples. They did a decent job, however, matching the colors of the mug as they painstakingly matched each brushstroke of the pattern beneath.

The broken cup has been restored…long live the King! Long live the Queen! Long live the Art of Inventive Repair!

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Miniature cranberry glass punch cup, c.1890

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

This diminutive hand-blown ribbed cranberry glass punch cup has an applied clear glass handle and polished bottom. I purchased it about a year ago from a dealer in the UK who thought it was made in Bohemia around the turn of the 19th century. Standing just a mere 1-1/2″ tall, it is one of the smallest examples in my collection. It would have been a part of a larger set, including a punch bowl, ladle and up to 12 matching cups. After this cup broke, a tinker very carefully bore eight minute holes through the sides of the glass, using a drill bit covered in diamond dust, and attached four 1/4″ long metal staples. These are some of the smallest staples I have ever seen. It must have taken nimble hands and years of experience to repair this tiny gem.

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This elaborate cranberry glass punch set with gilt decoration, made by Moser, would originally have had a dozen matching cups and an undertray.

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Photo courtesy of Live Auctioneers