Pair of Chinese jugs with silver spouts, c.1720

May 23rd, 2020

As I have noted many times in these pages, I love finding multiples of matching inventive repairs.

This colorful pair of Chinese porcelain footed jugs, made during the later part of the Kangxi period (1661–1722), has floral decorations with gilt highlights. They are baluster-form with unusual flattened sides, stand 8 inches high, and were most likely part of a large set of tableware for a wealthy household.

At some point in the jugs early lives, both of the spouts broke off, rendering them unusable. Luckily, a clever and talented silversmith was able to fashion new spouts with lovely engraved decoration, and attach them to the jugs. I can only assume that as soon as the jugs were brought home, they were put back on the dining room table and used again for many generations.

Samuel Hollins coffee pot with silver lid, c.1790

May 17th, 2020

I was thrilled to find this elegant baluster form, dry-bodied redware pottery coffee pot recently. It was made by Samuel Hollins in Staffordshire, England, circa 1784-1813, and stands 9 inches high. The applied sprigged decoration of a woman playing the harp is featured on one side, and The Birth of Achilles is on the reverse. Thin silver resist bands decorate the middle, rim, and spout.

The owners of this coffee pot must have been well off, as instead of carving a new lid out of wood or taking it to an itinerant tinsmith for a tin replacement after the original lid broke, they brought it to an established London silversmith for repair. The heavy sterling silver replacement lid is clearly stamped with the maker’s initials HWC, for Henry William Curry, and a date mark for 1867. I think the shiny new lid, beautifully offset by the rich red color of the stoneware, looks better than the original. But then of course, I’m biased.

Check out a previous post, Samuel Hollins stoneware coffee pot, c.1800 showing another Hollins coffeepot with similar form and decoration, but with a more humble repair.

This is what the original domed lid on my coffee pot would have looked like, had it not been broken and replaced.

Photo courtesy of WorthPoint

Happy Mother’s Day, 2020!

May 10th, 2020

Whimsical Victorian pin cushion, c.1880

May 2nd, 2020

For those of you who have been following my blog from the beginning, you are well aware how I feel about make-do pin cushions. I just don’t like them very much. Although for quite some time they were arguably the most ubiquitous of inventive repairs, they now seem to have dried up. I don’t know whether to attribute the scarcity to the distain by others like myself, or if they are so highly prized that they are being snatched up and hoarded by rabid collectors. Either way, I bit the bullet and recently bought this whimsical example. Please don’t judge me.

It seems anyone could wrap a scrap of fabric around some cotton, straw, or excelsior and plop it onto a broken base and call it a pin cushion, and many did just that. But this unusual example has been taken to another level. This wacky Victorian pin cushion stands 5.5 inches high and was made around 1880 and appears to be wearing a jester’s hat. It was made from the inverted bowl of a broken pressed glass goblet and filled with keepsakes, turning it into a memory jar. Contents include decorated paper, feathers, a pressed gold leaf, a colorfully painted base, along with an inscription, which reads: “Memento to Kate Caward made and presented by an old lady on her seventy fifth birthday.” It’s more common to see make-do pin cushions made from bases of broken goblets, so this may be an example of not losing a goblet but gaining two pin cushions.

So let’s raise a glass to collectors worldwide and celebrate our quirky passions. And in case you drop your glass, don’t worry. You can always make lovely pin cushions from the damaged pieces.

Here’s a well curated collection of fancy and whimsical pin cushions.

Photo courtesy of Peggy McClard

Mismatched Canton trio with large staples, c.1835

April 26th, 2020

My cousin-in-law Carol is a true artist with incredible taste. She is equally adept at painting, sculpture, sewing, and just about any other form of art or craft. Her homes have been decorated with a keen eye and filled with beautiful and quirky details. When she found out about my passion for antiques with inventive repairs, she started sending me wonderful examples for my collection.

This trio of mis-matched 18th century Chinese Canton porcelain arrived unannounced a few months ago. Each piece is decorated in the pagoda pattern in cobalt blue underglaze on a white ground. The small tureen measures 7 inches wide from handle to handle and is 5 inches high to the top of lid finial. The small plate, used here as an under tray, is 9.5 inches x 6.75 inches.

I wouldn’t be surprised of these “damaged” pieces were weeded out of a larger dinner service by a dealer who only wanted to keep the “perfect” pieces. The repairs here include 3 large double brass staples each on the tureen and lid, and 3 large white metal staples on the underside of the plate.

Thank you to whoever did me the favor of dividing up the set and leaving the more interesting stapled pieces for my collection. And thank you again Carol for your generosity and appreciation for the unusual and the quirky!

Floral French faience plate, c.1830

April 18th, 2020

This colorful faience (tin-glazed) earthenware plate was made in north-eastern France in the early 1800s. The bold floral decoration is rendered in polychrome enamels, attributed to small pottery workshops in the town of Les Islettes in the Lorraine region. The plate measures 12 inches in diameter.

Earthenware is less durable than porcelain and stoneware so it is not uncommon to find tin-glazed plates from this period with early repairs. After the plate broke, a restorer reunited the two pieces by drilling small holes straight through the surface, lacing a small piece of sturdy wire through the holes, and twisting the ends together. Putty or a bonding cement was added to fill the gaps in the holes. Sometimes multiple strands of thin brass wire were used instead of one piece of heavier wire. Other popular types of repairs in the region include large staples and rivets, also found throughout the world.

My high school French teacher found this plate in Belgium about 6 years ago and knew I would give it a good home. Thanks Marianne for your keen eye!

Many examples of plates similar to mine are on view at the Seisaam Museum in north-east France.

Photo courtesy of Seisaam Museum

Alcock “Naomi” jug, c.1847

April 4th, 2020

This pale blue Parian salt glaze jug with a molded relief biblical design and a scalloped fitted base was made in Burslem, Staffordshire, England by Samuel Alcock & Co. in 1847. It stands 9.5 inches high and is marked on the underside “Naomi and Her Daughters-in-Law”, along with a British diamond registration mark, dating the jug to 1847. The design was taken from the painting Naomi with Her Daughters-in-law Ruth and Orpah by Henry Nelson O’Neill (1817-1880.)

I have seen more examples of the Alcock “Naomi” jug with replacement handles than any other pieces. There must have been a design and or manufacturing flaw in the original molds, which rendered the handle unstable. Although this jug maintains its original pewter lid, it was fitted with a metal replacement handle and support straps after the original handle broke off, most likely soon after it was made.

It would be fun to see how many more jugs with this design and replacement handles are out there, so please let me know if you have own one or have come across any.

Here are both of my Naomi jugs side by side for comparison. Take a look at my other jug at this link.

At last…here’s what the original flawed handle looks like.

Photo courtesy of eBay

Etched glass wine goblet, c.1850

March 29th, 2020

Sorry to have been out of touch over the past month, but I thought it best to not post during these difficult times. Now I realize it might be helpful to try to return to some of our normal activities so I am happy to resume posting. I hope you are all well and remaining safe and healthy.

This colorless etched glass wine goblet stands 7 inches high, and has an opening of 3.25 inches. It dates to the middle of the 1800s and features copper wheel engraved scrollwork around the rim and an inscription of what appears to be William Myher and the word Nov beneath it.

The nicely turned wood replacement base and stem, which I believe to be mahogany, were added after the goblet took a tumble, well over one hundred years ago. Not sure if the goblet was made in America or in Europe. If anyone has insight as to where this was made, please let me know.

This goblet with similar form still has its original base.

Photo courtesy of Etsy

Milch glass mug, c.1780

February 23rd, 2020

When I first saw this 18th century German Milch glass mug, I though that the hand painted scene of a distinguished gentleman and lovely lady fabric shopping was quaint.

Then it dawned on me that they would have been a contemporary couple, wearing outfits from when the mug was made. 

So, imagine that if a mug was made today showing a contemporary couple shopping for fabric, the image would look something like this…

Right?! Now, you may wonder why this mug is even included here. Well, if you turn the mug around…

…you will find 16 metal staples holding the broken pieces together. As if drilling into delicate porcelain isn’t impressive enough, stapled glass is just mind boggling, don’t you think?

Basalt teapot with Sibyl knob, c.1785

February 9th, 2020

This classical black basalt pottery teapot with engine-turned ribbed body was made in England, c.1785-95. It stands 4.5 inches high, 8 inches wide from handle to spout. An impressed mark “NEALE & CO” can be found on the underside. My favorite design feature is the Sibyl knop on the lid, an intricately detailed sculptural feat unto itself.

After the original spout broke off – most likely over 175 years ago – a silversmith applied a silver replacement. I tend to keep replacement metals unpolished, as I feel the oxidization adds another layer of beauty to the piece. In this case, the dark richness of the silver spout blends in nicely with the teapots black surface.

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

Photo courtesy of 1stdibs