Archive for February, 2014

Cauldon porcelain tyg, c.1910

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

This beautifully painted three-handled porcelain tyg was made in Staffordshire, England by Cauldon, c.1905-20. It is hand painted in polychrome enamels with gilt detailing in the Highland Cattle pattern, signed D Birbeck. It is marked in green on the underside CAULDON LTD England and measures 7″ high, with an opening diameter of 5-1/4″.

Tygs are muli-handled drinking cups designed to be passed around and shared by many drinkers. The space on the rim between the handles delineates a surface for each drinker, a more sanitary solution to a single handled mug. Tygs date to the 15th century and were popular into the 17th century, but today they are used for decoration and the nasty old habit of sharing a beer in a traditional mug lives on.

We will never know if this fine tyg suffered its many breaks as a result of being thrown across the room during a bar brawl or if it merely slipped from grandma’s hands as she was dusting it. But thankfully it was brought to the attention of a china mender, who pieced the puzzle back together using 17 metal staples.










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.”

Chinese Batavian ware teapot, c.1750

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

This globular form teapot was made in China during the Qianlong dynasty (1736-1795) for export to Europe and North America. It measures 5″ tall and 7-1/2″ wide from spout to handle and is decorated in the rouge-de-fer palette, with painted flowers in asymmetrical reserves using red, orange, and black enamels with gilt highlights on a chocolate brown ground. Batavian ware, aka Capuchin ware or Cafe au lait, was highly favored by the Dutch and named for the city of Batavia (today Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia), the center of Dutch trade in the 18th century.

An iron sleeve with sawtooth edge covers the tip of the broken spout, replaced in the 19th century by a local tinker or itinerant china mender. A simple loop iron handle, bearing the remains of white gesso, replaces the broken original. Unlike many similarly replaced metal handles I find wrapped in rattan, this one shows evidence of being an armature, upon which layers of compound were applied then painted to emulate the original form and surface. As this type of unstable compound deteriorates over the years, dealers and collectors have been known to chip away at it, exposing the bare metal. The conservator in me likes an original crusty, compound-laden handle but the collector in me prefers a more esthetically pleasing clean metal surface.

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This teapot, with nearly identical form and decoration, still has its original handle and spout. But in my humble opinion, it is not nearly as interesting as mine.

bactavia teapot

Photo courtesy of LiveAuctioneers

Chrysanthemum Factory jug, c.1815

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

This large cream colored milk jug with sprigged decoration of hunters, horses and hounds was made in England in 1815 and bears the mark of the Chrysanthemum Factory, so-called because of the design of the pad mark on the underside. It was made by Charles Bourne and Chetham & Robinson and proved to be a popular design, as it was manufactured in many different forms, sizes and colors.

The striking dolphin shaped spout is minus its original lower half, replaced with a silver one by a tinker or jeweler long ago. It was expertly made as a cuff, snugly attached to the broken remains encased within. The ill-fitted lid, which came with the jug, seems to have been added at a later date by a previous owner. The jug stands 7-1/4″ tall without the lid.

Thanks to Benjamin Allen, whose Facebook group Sprigged & Relief Moulded Jugs helped to identify this piece.









This small cream jug gives you an idea of what the original spout on my larger jug looked like before it was brought to the tinker for repair.