Archive for the ‘publication’ Category

Antik & Auktion Magazine

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

Last year I received a request from antiques dealer and writer Carl-Henric Malmgren to provide photos from my collection for an article he was writing about inventive repairs for the Swedish magazine Antik & Auktion. After a delay of many months and one pandemic later, the article was published in the May 2020 issue. Here it is in all its glory, with Swedish text and loaded with wonderful photos from collections from around the world. I am hoping to get a transition of the text and if/when that happens I will post it here.

Antiques Roadshow, May 2010

Sunday, September 15th, 2019

I’ve been watching the Antiques Roadshow since it first aired in 1997, hoping to spot anything with an inventive repair. I finally got my wish in May 2010 with a Native American Tlingit ladle made of mountain sheep horn, c.1800.

The ladle was appraised for $75,000 in 2010 and I imagine it has appreciated in value over the past 9 years.

APRAISER: These would have been considered family heirlooms of the Tlingit people. That’s obviously not the shape of an original horn.
GUEST: Yeah, I wondered, is it carved out?
APPRAISER: Boiled until the horn fabric is soft and malleable, and then pressed into a mold, tied down and left to dry, and then it retains that shape. Right in the middle, there are little cracks and what we might call staples.
GUEST: Uh-huh.
APPRAISER: Although the material is not metallic, it’s baleen, from a whale’s mouth.
APPRAISER: So where it began to split, we see a Native repair.
GUEST: That’s cool.

Images courtesy of Antiques Roadshow

A&W Architektur & Wohnen, February 2014

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

In 2011 I was interviewed for the German interior design magazine A&W Architektur & Wohnen (Architecture & Living), Germany’s answer to Elle Decor. A few months after the interview, I noticed that the story was not published and assumed it ended up on the cutting room floor, never to see the light of day. But out of the blue, I just received an email from the writer of the article, informing me that it is currently featured on pages 30-32 of the February issue. So thanks to Claudia Steinberg for writing what appears to be a wonderful article and for contacting me three years later with the unexpected and surprising news.




A helpful co-worker of mine, Henrietta Ohno, provided this “quick and clumsy translation” (her words, not mine!) but I appreciate her effort and I think you will get a general idea of the article.

“Cemented, hobnailed, patched – the more imaginative an object’s repair the more welcome it is – because it attests affection.

A rafter nail serves as this lead dog’s prosthesis, 42 wire clips bond together an early 19th century canary yellow ceramic cup. Four iron band-aids heal the gaping wound of a broken wooden blow from Africa. For New York interior architect and set decorator Andrew Baseman these occasionally dilettante repairs are proof of an imaginative and inventive spirit. He adores these battered objects as survivors of an era without magic glue, in which a scratch, a crack and even a missing handle did not necessarily constitute a death verdict for an object. If one listens to him, the metal strap corset doesn’t only offer a second chance to this Chinese tea pot that is missing both spout and handle. The pot also gained in character. Its restoration gives proof of an affection someone once paid their plates and cups.

Damaged articles were part of every household until the mid- 20th century.  In the Post-war era with its throwaway tendencies they finally got relentlessly discarded.

Being raised a son of antique dealers from New England Andrew Baseman grew up with an innate love and respect for old objects. But from early on it wasn’t the flawless showpieces in display cases that fascinated him, but the drawer that held damaged goods. Images and phantasies of human dramas would be awakened at the sight of shards – of scolded children and discharged maids.  “It is the nearly fatal accident that alters the course of the fate of damaged statue or sugar set.”, says Andrew Baseman. The “orphans” of  the antique trade became his passion, a passion not everybody understands. Store owners can react with distrust or even feel offended when Andrew Baseman asks about damaged articles. What does he intend to imply when he inquires about a Chinese vase that has its repaired wound bashfully hidden from first sight?

Only in Japan, where a sensitivity for fragility and for impermanence are part of the culture, the mending of a damaged object has developed into an artform.  Craftsmen of the 15th Century Kintsugi technique enobled fractures with golddust and laquer in such a way that eventually ceramic jugs and cups were willfully damanged to be repaired in the Kintsugi style.

A sense for the innate history of things can be ascribed to the British as well. Since long ago the British aristocracy has had its damaged China repaired with the help of sterling silver, even doll play dishes were mended in such lavish ways.

Whether extravagantly repaired with gold dust and silver, or with what’s at hand at the time, may it be tin, zinc, aluminum or wood – it is the visable restauration that Andrew Baseman favors over the so-called blind restauration. With one exception: a parrot lamp, a heirloom from his grandmother, had its broken off beak glued back on invisibly with state-of-the-art techniques – his personal past, it seems, he prefers unhurt and unbroken.”

Outtakes from The New York Times

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Nearly 3 years ago Andrea Codrington Lippke wrote an article about me and my collection which appeared in The New York Times. The result of that amazing exposure was overwhelming and I still get emails from collectors and curators worldwide who read the article. I was thrilled to be on the cover of the Home & Garden section and ended up with a 1-1/2 page article with photos, as well as an online slideshow which included 10 more images. But a few photos never saw the light of day. Please take a look at this trio, which were shot for the article but ended up on the cutting room floor.

The assembled items for this monochromatic still life include a silver mounted Jackfield teapot, “Scottish Thistle” crystal cordialetched glass celery vase and silver resist lustre jug. The cluster of 3 objects on the right are metal chisels made from engine parts, “made-do’s” in their own right, which Mark found in a recycling shop in Mali.

These pieces all have sterling silver repairs, some with rare hallmarks. As most items with inventive repairs are unsigned, I yearn for anything showing a repairer’s mark. The helmet form cream jug, out of focus in the back, has a uniquely repaired handle made from a silver spoon. The sparrow beak jug in the center has a simple loop handle with silversmith’s hallmarks, and the Chinese Imari mug on the right has an exquisitely crafted replacement handle. Stay tuned for information on the cut crystal goblet at the far left, which I will post in the near future.

And this is the vintage medical cabinet where I keep some of my favorite pieces in my collection, on perpetual rotation. If you look carefully you will see early Micky Mouse collectibles and unusual miniatures mixed in.

Thanks again to Andrea Codrington Lippke and Ira Lippke for their beautiful writing and photography!

Photos courtesy of Ira Lippke for The New York Times.

“The Pursuit of Imperfection” in The Atlantic

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Steven Heller, esteemed author or editor of over 140 books on design and pop culture, interviewed me last week for an article in The Atlantic. The Pursuit of Imperfection: Why Some People Collect Broken Antiques sheds light on why I collect, write about, and am obsessed with, antiques with inventive repairs.


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Yankee magazine

Monday, June 20th, 2011

The current issue of Yankee magazine (July/August 2011) contains the story “Make-Dos” (seeing the plural term looks Spanish to me) in the Antiques & Collectibles section, featuring pieces from my collection. Photographs by Ira Lippke are used to illustrate the well written article by Catherine Riedel.


Edith Wharton, inventive repair in literature

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Edith Wharton in The Mount library 1905.

Excerpt from Edith Wharton’s “Copy”: A Dialogue, Scribner’s Magazine 27 (June 1900):

VENTNOR. But the time comes when one sends for the china-mender, and has the bits riveted together, and turns the cracked side to the wall —

MRS. DALE. And denies that the article was ever damaged?

VENTNOR. Eh? Well, the great thing, you see, is to keep one’s self out of reach of the housemaid’s brush. (A pause.) If you’re married you can’t — always. (Smiling.) Don’t you hate to be taken down and dusted?

“The China-Mender” by Thomas Hood, c.1832

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

This amusing poem, written by British poet and humorist Thomas Hood, Esq. (1799-1845), first appeared at in The Royal Lady’s Magazine (their motto: “Our ambition is to raise the female mind of England to its true level”) London, January 1832.

Photo courtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, London


Good-Morning, Mr. What-d’ye-call! Well! here’s another pretty job!

Lord help my Lady!—what a smash!—if you had only heard her sob!

It was all through Mr. Lambert: but for certain he was winey,

To think for to go to sit down on a table full of Chiney.

“Deuce take your stupid head!” says my Lady to his very face;

But politeness, you know, is nothing when there’s Chiney in the case;

And if ever a woman was fond of Chiney to a passion,

It’s my mistress, and all sorts of it, whether new or old fashion.

Her brother’s a sea-captain, and brings her home shiploads—

Such bronzes, and such dragons, and nasty squatting things like toads;

And great nidnoddin’ mandarins, with palsies in the head:

I declare I’ve often dreamt of them, and had nightmares in my bed.

But the frightfuller they are—lawk! she loves them all the better,

She’d have Old Nick himself made of Chiney if they’d let her.

Lawk-a-mercy! break her Chiney, and it’s breaking her very heart;

If I touched it, she would very soon say, “Mary, we must part.”

To be sure she is unlucky: only Friday comes Master Randall,

And breaks a broken spout, and fresh chips a tea-cup handle:

He’s a dear, sweet little child, but he will so finger and touch,

And that’s why my Lady doesn’t take to children much.

Well, there’s stupid Mr. Lambert, with his two greatcoat flaps.

Must go and sit down on the Dresd’n shepherdesses’ laps,

As if there was no such things as rosewood chairs in the room!

I couldn’t have made a greater sweep with the handle of the broom.

Mercy on us! how my mistress began to rave and tear!

Well, after all, there’s nothing like good ironstone ware for wear.

If ever I marry, that’s flat, I’m sure it won’t be John Dockery—

I should be a wretched woman in a shop full of crockery.

I should never like to wipe it, though I love to be neat and tidy,

And afraid of meat on market-days every Monday and Friday

I’m very much mistook if Mr. Lambert’s will be a catch;

The breaking the Chiney will be the breaking-off of his own match.

Missis wouldn’t have an angel, if he was careless about Chiney;

She never forgives a chip, if it’s ever so small and tiny.

Lawk! I never saw a man in all my life in such a taking;

I could find it in my heart to pity him for all his mischief-making.

To see him stand a-hammering and stammering like a zany;

But what signifies apologies, if they won’t mend old Chaney!

If he sent her up whole crates full, from Wedgwood’s and Mr. Spode’s,

He couldn’t make amends for the crack’d mandarins and smash’d toads.

Well! every one has their tastes, but, for my part, my own self,

I’d rather have the figures on my poor dear grandmother’s old shelf

A nice pea-green poll-parrot, and two reapers with brown ears of corns,

And a shepherd with a crook after a lamb with two gilt horns,

And such a Jemmy Jessamy in top-boots and sky-blue vest,

And a frill and flower’d waistcoat, with a fine bow-pot at the breast.

God help her, poor old soul! I shall come into ’em at her death;

Though she’s a hearty woman for her years, except her shortness of breath.

Well! you may think the things will mend—if they won’t, Lord mend us all!

My lady will go in fits, and Mr. Lambert won’t need to call;

I’ll be bound in any money, if I had a guinea to give,

He won’t sit down again on Chiney the longest day he has to live.

Poor soul! I only hope it won’t forbid his banns of marriage;

Or he’d better have sat behind on the spikes of my Lady’s carriage.

But you’ll join ’em all of course, and stand poor Mr. Lambert’s friend,

I’ll look in twice a day, just to see, like, how they mend.

To be sure it is a sight that might draw tears from dogs and cats,

Here’s this pretty little pagoda, now, has lost four of its cocked hats.

Be particular with the pagoda: and then here’s this pretty bowl—

The Chinese Prince is making love to nothing because of this hole;

And here’s another Chinese man, with a face just like a doll,

Do stick his pigtail on again, and just mend his parasol.

But I needn’t tell you what to do, only do it out of hand,

And charge whatever you like to charge—my Lady won’t make a stand.

Well! good-morning, Mr. What-d’ye-call, for it’s time our gossip ended:

And you know the proverb, the less as is said, the sooner the Chiney’s mended.

Click here to see wich is the best food for the pit bull.

The New York Times, December 16, 2010

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Second-class citizens no more, “inventive repairs” have been acknowledged in an extensive article in The New York Times. The Fix Is In: Finding Beauty Beyond Repair appeared on the front page of yesterday’s Home section, featuring photos of me and my collection. Andrea Codrington Lippke wrote the wonderful article and Ira Lippke took the beautiful photographs, 11 of which are included in the online slide show.

The response has been overwhelming and I appreciate the over 100 emails and phone calls I received, as well as the many new subscribers to this blog.

Article photos by Ira Lippke for The New York Times

Click here to see the ultimate lighted makeup mirror reviews.

“Itinerant Dish-mender”, c.1841

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

“Another ingenious and effectual method of mending porcelain and all manner of crockery ware is performed by itinerant workmen, who travel about with their workshop on their shoulders, as seen in the cut. By means of minute copper clamps, even the most delicate article of China-ware may be repaired and made to answer the purpose of a new piece: since no cement is used in this style of mending, it has the additional advantage of standing immersion in water.”

From the monthly magazine “The Chinese Repository, Volume Ten”, 1841