Posts Tagged ‘staples/rivets’

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

Staffordshire pottery cradle, c.1820

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Miniature pottery cradles were a popular form of wedding gift throughout the UK during the late 17th to mid-19th century. The not-too-subtle message to the newlyweds was to encourage fertility. This humble example, measuring 3″ high by 3-3/4″ long, is made from yellow glazed pottery and decorated with an incised circle pattern. It was made in Staffordshire, England, in the early 1800s. Perhaps after the young couple took the hint of the cradle’s implied message and had a child, the little darling grew up and one day broke the cradle. But one can’t blame the child who simply thought the cradle was a toy to be played with and not a symbol of its own mere existence. Distraught over their broken gift, the couple took the two halves to a china mender who repaired the cradle using two 3/4″ metal staples. Although the cradle is back in one piece and suitable for displaying, the obtrusive scars bear witness to the unfortunate event.

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This grouping has similar cradles with molded babies in swaddling, rarer than my empty one.

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Photo courtesy of John Howard

Basket case Victorian dish, c.1850

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am featuring a dish that only a mother could love. I believe it to be English from the mid 1800s and made of porcelain with hand painted decoration in cobalt, drab and gold. It is marked on the bottom with the numbers 4 over 554 and measures 9″ x 10″. This is truly one of the saddest antiques with inventive repairs I have ever seen, and believe me, it took much inner soul searching just to purchase it. I am breaking with tradition and showing the underside of the plate first. Take a deep breath…this is not going to be pretty.

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This dish must have held great sentimental value for its original owner. In order to make it “whole” again after being shattered over 100 years ago, it was professionally repaired using 10 large metal staples, overpainted to mask the unsightly raw material. Sadly, the dish was dropped AGAIN, resulting in the loss of 3 staples and a sloppy glue job, now yellow with age. To add insult to injury, later in life it was bound with a cat’s cradle worth of string and cord, so it could proudly hang on a wall for all the world to see the tenacity of this unlikely survivor.

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Eva Zeisel majolica teapot, c.1929

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

This boldly painted, hard to find teapot was designed by no other than Eva Zeisel, who worked for Majolika Fabrik in Schramberg, Germany. She arrived in the small Black Forest town in the fall of 1928 and left nearly two years later in the spring of 1930, creating nearly 200 brightly colored pottery objects of Art Deco inspired design. This lightweight pottery teapot measures 7-1/2″ tall and is 8-3/4″ wide from handle to spout.

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I am not surprised that this fragile teapot did not remain unscathed over the past 84 years, as the low fired clay is susceptible to breakage. A large broken piece at the top of the pot has been reapplied, aided by three large metal staples, each measuring nearly 3/4″ long. To help camouflage this none-too-subtle repair, the staples were overpainted in matching tones, with only traces of color remaining. To add insult to injury, the top  portion of the handle, once broken off, has been riveted back on to the body. Tightly woven rattan envelopes the entire handle and the lower portion of the teapot, although I am not sure if this is was a later addition. Original or not, the basket-like embellishment adds another layer of quirkiness to this most desirable vessel.

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The stamped mark on the bottom reads: Majolika, SMF (contained within a shield), Schramberg Handyemalt, 64.

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Photo courtesy of Kulturprojekte Berlin

These are more examples of majolica designed by Eva Zeisel during her years in Schramberg, Germany

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An early photograph of Eva Zeisel in her studio, c. 1930.

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Photos courtesy of John Foster

Chinoiserie print ale mug, c.1790

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

This substantial ale mug was manufactured at the turn of the 18th century, possibly by Caughley, in Shropshire, England. It stands 5-1/2″ tall and is made of soft-paste porcelain with a pearlware glaze, and decorated with a bold cobalt blue Chinoiserie fantasy transfer print. It was purchased in London by my father and given to me as my 40th birthday present. Seeing it reminds me of how proud he was when he found pieces to add to my numerous collections. Although it has just 2 small brass staples by the handle and not an over abundance of obvious repairs, as more typically seen in these pages, I am still very happy to own it.

Wucai teapot with misplaced handle, c.1690

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

This early porcelain teapot was made in China in the late 1600s and is a good example of an original form shifting to become current with the next generation. It is decorated in the Wucai palette, consisting of five enamel colors outlined in black. What I love most about this piece is that by the time the original fixed upright handle broke off, it was replaced with a rattan-wrapped metal handle attached to the side of the teapot. Most likely the break occurred over one hundred years after the teapot was made, which explains why the placement of the new handle is more in keeping with teapots of the early 19th century. This act of altering the original form of a piece is reminiscent of clobbered wares; a practice of painting over simply decorated porcelain with multi color enamels to appeal to changing styles. An added bonus is the presence of long meal staples at the top of the neck, holding together two broken pieces back in place.

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This teapot shows what the fixed vertical handle on my teapot would have looked like before the replacement handle was attached to the side.

Photo courtesy of Grays