“Boy on a Buffalo” teapot, c. 1755

July 14th, 2019

This porcelain Dr. Wall (or First Period) Worcester compressed globular form teapot was made in England, circa 1755-56. One side has pencilled (painted with fine brush) decoration in black of the “Boy on a Buffalo,” the reverse has a different scene, and the spout is decorated with a sprig of flowers. Teapot measures 4.5 inches high to top of lid, 6.5 inches wide from handle to spout.

After the lid went missing and the spout broke, it was taken to a silversmith, who fashioned an elegant hinged lid and a well made collar to extend the truncated spout. Although it would have been an added bonus if the teapot possessed hallmarks of the silversmith who did the fine repairs, I am thrilled to own this rare teapot, nonetheless, and share it with you.

This example shows what the original cover and spout looked like before the teapot took a tumble.

Photo courtesy of Invaluable

Toby Jug with tin hat, c.1820

July 7th, 2019

Isn’t he a dapper fellow? I bought this wonderful Toby jug from one of my favorite dealers in the UK, who always manages to find unique examples of inventive repairs.

This nifty pearlware pottery jug, which stands 10 inches high, was made in England, c.1820. Toby is holding a jug of his own, inscribed “Success to our wooden wall”, which refers to the wooden ships of the British Navy, protecting the British shores from invasion.

At some point in its early life, Toby’s tricorn hat broke off and its remains were chipped away to make room for a replacement. A skilled tinsmith carefully created a fully dimensional top hat which also acts as a lid. Although chipped, cracked and battered about, our friend Toby looks pretty sharp donning his new, updated hat.

This Toby jug of identical form still maintains his original tricorn hat.

Photo courtesy of Woolley & Wallis

Happy Pride 2019!

June 30th, 2019

A rainbow of inventive repairs…

Jim Thompson House Museum, Bangkok

June 16th, 2019

This past December, Mark and I traveled to Southeast Asia, visiting Cambodia, Thailand, and Bangkok. All the while, I was on the lookout for inventive repairs in museums and antique shops. Although I did not find any examples for sale, I did see quite a few in museums.

Here are some examples of stapled ceramics I stumbled upon at the Jim Thompson House Museum in Bangkok, where I seemed to be the only one who noticed these large stapled beauties hiding in plain sight.

Small Yixing teapot with silver spout, c.1875

June 2nd, 2019

This minuscule red stoneware pear shaped Yixing teapot was made in China during the middle to late 1800s. It stands just 2.5 inches high and has an incised mark on the underside.

Although this tiny teapot looks like a child’s miniature, it was made for adults to actually use. As a result of a tea ceremony mishap, the original spout must have snapped off and an expertly executed silver replacement was made. Further evidence of its intended use is a tiny hole on the lid for steam to escape, as well as a strainer inside the replacement spout.

Take a look at this previous post of mine, miniature Yixing teapot with gold cuffs, the only example in my collection with gold repairs.

And if anyone can translate the mark on the bottom, please let me know!

This miniature teapot with similar form suggests what the original spout on my teapot might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of ChinaHao.com

Small sprigged jug with brass handle, c.1820

May 26th, 2019

Good things come in small packages, as is evident by this small but mighty Dutch shape jug, which was made in England between 1815 and 1820. It stands 3.5 inches high, 4.25 inches wide from handle to spout and has a lavender ground with white sprigged decorations including gryphons, cupids, a figural Baccus head spout, a large urn, and a rim border of grape clusters and leaves. Possibly made by Ridgway Pottery but many other potters made this and similar designs.

Over 150 years ago, a clever metalsmith fashioned a simple brass replacement handle. Without compromising the jug by drilling through the side, this practical handle clips on to the broken ends of the jug, much like a crown repairs a broken tooth. While many types of metal are used to repair broken ceramics, polished brass is not one of the more common materials. I find that the warm golden tone adds a regal touch to this small but highly decorative jug.

This jug, identical to mine, shows what the original handle looked like.

Photo courtesy of eBay

Chinese ceramics at the Frick, Pittsburgh

May 19th, 2019

Last year while working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I sublet a house in Point Breeze, just around the corner from The Frick Pittsburgh. I immediately bought a membership and whenever possible I attended exhibits, walked the grounds, and ate in the cafe.

Last August, to coincide with the opening of Crazy Rich Asians, I posted about the ceramics I used as set dressing in the movie. I received a comment from Sarah Hall, Chief Curator, Director of Collections at the Frick, who mentioned that the collection included a pair of large peach vases, similar to ones I used in the film. Soon after, I met with Sarah and Dawn Brean, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts, to discuss an upcoming exhibit Dawn was planning and asked if I would like to write a piece about ceramics used in Crazy Rich Asians.

Flash forward 6 months and I am pleased to report that the exhibit recently opened and will be on display as a part of their permanent collection through early 2020. If you are in the area, please stop by and check out the wonderful exhibit, as well as the rest of the museum and beautiful grounds, and Clayton, the former home of Henry Clay Frick, industrialist and art collector.

Chinese mug with double handle, c.1770

May 5th, 2019

This Chinese porcelain cylindrical mug with chips, cracks, and a missing handle survived many a battle over the past 250 years, as is evident by its multiple scars. It was made during the Qianlong Period (1736-96) and measures 5 inches high, 9 inches wide from handle to handle. The delicate decoration, including three oval cartouches with flowers and figures in a port scene, is hand painted in the Rose Mandarin palette using pink, blue, green, orange, and brown enamels.

It seems many years ago a tinker took pity upon the poor broken mug and brought it back to life by fashioning not one but two metal replacement handles. Supported by horizontal and vertical support bands, the handles have the remains of the rattan supports and woven rattan coverings. This just proves that although you may be old, wounded, and weary, you may still be able to live a long life with dignity.

This mug, of similar form and decoration, shows what the original handle on mine might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Bukowskis


“Stippled Medallion” glass spooner, c.1865

April 28th, 2019

I purchased this humble flint EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) spooner in the Stippled Medallion pattern many years ago while visiting Mark’s aunt and uncle in Framingham, Massachusetts. It was made by Union Glass Company in Somerville, Massachusetts, just 20 miles northeast of Framingham, between 1860 and 1870. It measures 5.5 inches high, and has a diameter of 3.5 inches. After its original base snapped off, a simple turned wood base was made (most likely at home) and the spooner was returned to the dining table and put back to use.

I spotted it at an antiques shop, sitting on a shelf among other “perfect” glassware, with a faded price tag of around $10. I assume it had been gathering dust on that shelf for many years, watching as dozens of nearby pieces came and went, feeling as an orphan must feel seeing others taken away to start a new life. It’s a good thing I found it and added it to my collection, or else it might still be sitting on that shelf, anxiously eying each customer and hoping “maybe this is the one…”

This example still has its original base and shows what mine looked like before the crash.

Photo courtesy of eBay

Coffee pot with metal lid, c.1810

April 21st, 2019

This pearlware pottery baluster form reeded coffee pot was made in England in the early 1800s. It is decorated with delicate flowers and ribbons in shades of pink, green, and orange and stands 9.5 inches high. The underside is marked with a tiny orange leaf.

At some point in its early life, the original lid broke or went missing and the base cracked. Fear not, as a tinker made a tin replacement lid with a brass knob and attached a tin band around the base to repair the crack. Want another cup of coffee? Yes, can do!

This coffee pot with similar form and decoration, shows that the original lid on mine would have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Etsy