Teapot signed “Coombs China Burner”, c.1780

July 25th, 2021

This Chinese export porcelain drum-form teapot was made during the Qianlong Dynasty (1736-1795) and has a divided entwined handle with molded leaves and flowers at terminals, along with a molded berry with leaves shaped finial on the lid. It was decorated for the European market in the Famille Rose palette with floral sprays and blue ribbons, and measures 5.25 inches high, 10.25 inches wide from handle to spout.

At first glance this sturdy teapot looks a bit out of place on these pages of ceramics and glassware, mostly riddled with obvious repairs. But in fact, the spout was repaired in the late 1700s in a most inventive way by a china burner in Bristol, UK. Painted in red on underside is “Coombs, China Burner, Queens Street, Bristol”. Coombs fused the broken spout to the teapot by refiring the pot with glass silica. His calling card (last image) boasts “Burns all sorts of foreign china, such as dishes, plates, bowls…teapots, boats, coffee pots, mugs, etc. Likewise, rivets and rims, china bowls and glasses in the neatest manner.” What’s thrilling about Coombs’ work is that his pieces are signed, unlike most other repaired items which remain anonymous. I have a few more signed pieces repaired by Coombs, which I will post in the future.

Bone fork with silver repair, c.1880

July 18th, 2021

This bone salad serving set, which measures 10.5 inches long, appears to have been made in France, c.1880. Long ago, one of the fork prongs broke off and was repaired by a silversmith, who added a wide band to help secure the break. As many antique bone salad servers were made with silver handles or embellishments, this silver repair seems appropriate.

Here’s a more upscale set of French salad servers with original ornate silver handles.

Photo courtesy of Catawiki

Chinese mug with metal & rattan handle, c.1785

July 2nd, 2021

I purchased this cylindrical form porcelain mug at auction last year, along with many lots of mugs, teapots, jugs, goblets, and oil lamps. As a result of my forced hiatus from work due to the pandemic, I was able to leisurely research and catalog the 50+ new pieces to my collection. This pretty mug in the Famille Rose palette has floral swag and tassel decoration in pink, purple, green, and orange. It was made in China during the Qianlong period (1736-95) and stands 4.5 inches high.

After the handle broke off, a bronze replacement was attached by carefully drilling through the body. Although I seem to have countless replacement handles such as this in my collection, each are a little different in size, proportion, and material. I especially enjoy the patterns created by the thinly cut rattan, woven over the handle as insulation and to help form a tighter grip.

This example, with similar form and decoration, shows what the original handle on my mug would have looked like before it took a tumble.

Photo courtesy of Ruby Lane

Glass water goblet with wood base, c.1865

June 27th, 2021

This EAPG (Early American Pressed Glass) water goblet in the Bullseye & Rosette – aka Star – pattern was most likely made in Pittsburgh, PA by Bakewell, Pears & Company. It dates from 1865 and stands 6.75 inches high.

At one point in its early life, the original glass base snapped off and was replaced by a turned wood replacement. The new base appears to be an at home repair, repurposed from a section of a stair newel post, as seen in the last photo. A lovely example of making-do, don’t you think?

This goblet with a similar pattern suggests what the original base on mine would have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Early American Pattern Glass Society

Photo courtesy of eBay

Barroom brawl survivor, c.1880

June 20th, 2021

I’d like to imagine that this pewter tankard lost its original handle during a rowdy barroom brawl, sometime in the late 1800s. How else would you explain the sturdy metal handle becoming detached? One can only imagine the scenario of punching fists, smashed chairs, and flying drinking vessels. This survivor was most likely made in England at the end of the 19th century and measures 6.75 inches high with an opening of 3.75 inches. It has an engraved monogram of “DAO.”

After the broken tankard was picked up off of the barroom floor, it was was fitted with a thin metal replacement handle with thumb rest. Though diminutive in scale, the new handle does the trick in allowing the ale to be served again. This time men, please be more careful and leave the drinkware alone.

Photo courtesy of Invaluable

This example suggests what the original handle on my tankard might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Ruby Lane

Delft jug with pewter lid, c.1690

June 6th, 2021

I purchased this ovoid Dutch Delft blue & white earthenware jug from a dealer last year because I loved the stylized decoration and the unusual inventive repair. It has a slightly flared neck, blue & white Chinoiserie decoration, and a scroll handle. Jug was made in Holland in the late 1600s.

The pewter lid with a patch to cover the missing spout is one I have not seen before. I assumed that liquids would not pour well from this damaged vessel, but was pleasantly surprised how well the water flowed. I guess that the tinker or whoever did the repair over 150 years ago knew what they were doing.

Here’s another jug with similar form and decoration, but without damage. I prefer mine over this “perfect” example.

Photo courtesy of Anticstore

Queen Anne Regency teapot, c.1950

May 30th, 2021

I purchased this porcelain teapot a few years ago from a collector online. It measures 4.25 inches high and is decorated with a burgundy band, over painted floral garland transfers, scrollwork, and gilding. Judging from the one photo I was sent, I assumed it was an antique and made in Europe. After receiving it and doing a bit of research, I now believe it is Queen Anne porcelain, Regency pattern made in England around 1950. It is marked on the underside with a small blue “x”. 

At some point after the original handle broke off, a sturdy bronze replacement was made by shaping a bronze rod and adding 3 beads. It was finished with clunky putty terminals painted gold. As this repair was done sometime in the 1950s at the earliest, it makes it one of the most recent repairs in my collection. I admit it is not one of the most attractive pieces, nor one of the most elegant repairs. But it’s still a part of the history of china mending and a good example of a later inventive repair.

This example with similar form and decoration suggests what the original handle on my teapot might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Chinasearch

Pots in Action

May 23rd, 2021

In 2005 I was asked by ceramic artist Ayumi Horie to submit images for Pots in Action, a new Instagram page she was creating. The objective was to show ceramics in use, and she thought it would be fun to show some of my wounded survivors. These are the results, photographed by my talented husband Mark. I’m thrilled with how they came out and hope you like them as much as I do. Thank you Ayumi and Mark!

Glass beehive whale oil lamp with DIY wood base, c.1850

May 16th, 2021

This mold-blown glass whale oil lamp with beehive design stands 6 inches high. It was made in North America, c.1850. As oil lamps were used extensively throughout the house, it was not unusual for them to break. If the owner was crafty, they could add fabric and batting to the top portion of the broken base, transforming it into a pin cushion. The upper portion could be fitted with a metal or wood replacement base, which is what we have here.

Judging by the simplicity of the work, this 3.5 inches square rustic wood replacement base was most likely a DIY repair. Wooden make-do repairs done at home range from the simple (Flint glass candlestick, c.1870) to over-the-top flights of fancy (Oil lamp with pyramid base, c.1920). I am hoping that people will be inspired by my collection of inventive repairs and take a stab at repairing their own wounded possessions.

This intact example shows what the original base on my lamp would have looked like before it took a tumble.

Photo courtesy of WorthPoint

Jug with transfer decoration and unusual metal handle, c.1880

May 9th, 2021

This sturdy transferware jug was made by Cork, Edge & Malkin of Burslem, England, as part of the Italy series. The red transfer design was registered on September 29, 1879. Jug stands 5.5 inches high and is stamped on the underside: “TRADE MARK, E.M & CO. B, ITALY.”

Although the durable earthenware seems likely to have withstood much wear and tear, somehow the handle became detached well over 100 years ago. To bring the jug back to life, a tinker created an unusual replacement handle using crimped tin and wire. By carefully attaching bands at the top and bottom, the handle was secured without drilling through the body, which might have resulted in further damage. Much thanks to the anonymous tinker who made this otherwise innocuous jug unique.

This jug with similar form and decoration shows what the original loop handle on my jug might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Replacements, Ltd.