Posts Tagged ‘staples/rivets’

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.

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Photo courtesy of eBay

Bohemian milch glass mug, c.1750

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

This 18th century Milch Glass mug with hand painted polychrome hunting scene decoration of a stage pursued by a dog  was made in central Europe in the 18th century and measures 6-1/4″  high.

After this mug was dropped, breaking into two pieces, it was most likely taken to an itinerant “china mender” who repaired it using 16 metal staples of various sizes. It is more common to find ceramics repaired with staples or rivets, but skilled repairers drilled through glass as well.

“Bohemia was also renowned for ‘milch glass’ or milk glass, and tumblers, mugs, bottles and such things made of it were decorated with Watteau scenes and floral designs. The technique is often good, but the shapes are generally clumsy and the decoration insipid.” from The Glass Collector: A Guide to Old English Glass by MacIver Perciva, 1919.

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Here’s another example of Milch Glass with similar form and decoration.

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Photo courtesy of Andrew Dando

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.

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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/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.

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

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Photo courtesy of Petrie Rogers

Sunderland Bridge etched glass jug, c.1840

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

This unusual hand blown commemorative glass jug with applied handle was made in England around 1840 and stands 6-1/4″ high. It features beautifully engraved images including a frigate in full sail under the Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland, an oval cartouche with “WH” monogram, an elaborate fruit basket, a spray of wheat, roses and grapes. Examples of Sunderland souvenirs made of glass are more unusual than the popular pottery pieces with colorful transfer decoration, overglaze washes and pink lustre highlights.

The Wearmouth Bridge was completed in 1796 but was still being commemorated well into the middle of the 19th century. When opened it was the longest single span bridge in the world. The original bridge was replaced in 1929 and is still in use today.

It must have taken a skilled hand to stabilize the large horizontal crack using just 5 metal rivets. The underside reveals a ground pontil mark, as well as scratches and wear, showing that this jug has been well used. But it’s remarkable that a fragile glass jug such as this hasn’t sustained even more wear and damage over the past 175 years.

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Photo courtesy of The Sunderland Site

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.

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.”

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Florence Upton decorated child’s mug, c.1905

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

This English child’s mug, boldly decorated with characters created by illustrator and author Florence Kate Upton (February 22, 1873 – October 16, 1922), is made of porcelain and measures 2-3/4″ high. Her ubiquitous Dutch Dolls and Golly characters are represented here with strong graphics and in full color. The underside has an embossed lithophane image of a girl and boy, visible only when held up to the light. The printed registration mark on the underside dates this mug to 1905.

Second only to the Teddy Bear, the Golly was the most popular toy in Europe in the early 1900s. Although Upton wrote Golly as a lovable, benign character, the image and original name Gollywog eventually became a controversial figure, sparking outrage. Without a patent, other manufacturers copied the likeness and portrayed the character as lazy and evil, becoming a negative symbol and an embarrassment to the black community. The Guardian wrote an article in 2009, “From bedtime story to ugly insult: how Victorian caricature became a racist slur”, explaining the controversy.

Perhaps, during an all-doll tea party, the fragile mug was dropped by its young owner and the handle snapped off. Rather than being tossed out, the broken mug was taken to a china mender who reattached the handle using two metal cuffs and rivets. I am surprised that I don’t come across more examples of early repairs on children’s items, as I imagine many tiny hands had trouble grasping the precious ceramic toys they were given to play with, long before the invention of plastic.

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Stapled octagonal crab plate, c.1750

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Most people I encounter are astonished the first time they see broken ceramics held together with staples. I was, too, at a young age when I saw a small stapled dish. The first words uttered are typically “how did they do that?” If you type that very question into my search box on this page, a post from a few years ago will pop up and help answer that much asked question.

Sadly, most pieces repaired with staples, aka rivets, are not signed by the menders so we have no idea who repaired them. I have seen 18th century English and American newspaper advertisements and calling cards from tinkers and jewelers offering their repair services, as well as early prints showing “china menders” with their tools. Today, antique ceramics with staple repairs are not uncommon but many rare examples are quickly disappearing, as restorers will carefully remove staples, fill the holes and erase all evidence of the original “honest” repair. Although I have dozens of examples of early staple repair on a variety of forms, I still get a thrill when I encounter a rare or unusual example untouched by a modern restorer.

This porcelain plate was made in Jingdezhen, China, during the Qing dynasty (1740-1760) and measures 8-1/2″ in diameter. It is decorated in the Famille rose palette and features a large blue crab, crayfish, flowers, and a border with gilt detailing. Early in its life it was dropped, cleanly breaking it in half. An experienced china mender reattached the plate using six small evenly spaced brass staples. Repairs such as this are so tight and secure that the plate can be returned to the dinner table without fear of it coming undone. That is, unless another clumsy person lets it slip from his or her hands.

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Another example, nearly identical to mine, is in the permanent collection of the British Museum. It was donated in the 19th century by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, described by Marjorie Caygill, historian of the British Museum, as “arguably the most important collector in the history of the British Museum, and one of the greatest collectors of his age”.

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Photo courtesy of the British Museum

Victorian silver server, c.1890

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

This ornate sterling silver serving piece has a carved mother of pearl handle with an etched monogram. It was made during the later part of the Victorian period (1837-1901), most likely in England. Although I can not say for certain, its asymmetrical form suggests it to be a jelly server. It measures 8-1/2″ long.

At first glance you may wonder why this seemingly “perfect” server ended up in my collection of inventive repairs, but upon closer inspection, you can spot a subtle repair. The mother of pearl handle cracked in half at a fragile stress point and was reassembled using pins and a silver mount. Also, the neck has been replaced with two wires clumsily soldered to the blade. In my opinion, the pattern of the four pins on the front and the wonderfully shaped brace on the back only enhance the original design, adding a unique charm to this piece.

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