Archive for March, 2019

Rescue me, Marie Kondo!

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Today I take you behind the scenes and into my office/research center/storage room, where the bulk of my collection of nearly 600 examples of antiques with inventive repairs is kept. As you can see, the shelves are filled to the rafters. Mind you, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Fearful of the direction I seem to be heading in, I took an online test, Hoarding Symptoms Test for Adults, and thankfully discovered that I am not in danger of becoming a hoarder. At least for now.

Pin cushion, c.1900

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

For years I have resisted buying a single make-do pin cushion, the most prolific of all repairs. I am not a fan and think of them as the “Hummel figurine” of the inventive repair world. I will admit that on a couple of occasions, during moments of temporary insanity, I came close to buying one for my collection. But last year at an antiques shop in Pittsburgh, I caved in and bought this sad little example.

At home repairs like this are the most common type of make-do, with endless variations made from broken household items, including oil lamps, goblets, and candlesticks. This one was most likely made in America during the late Victorian era and stands 4.5 inches high. The base is made from a broken cut glass decanter stopper and the top is made from a ball of fabric covered in colorful wool yarn. I will try hard not to succumb the next time I encounter another one of these.

This collection of make-do pin cushions, each with a different glass base, have yarn tops similar to mine.

Photo courtesy of Live Auctioneers

Rose Medallion teapot with unusual wood handle, c.1840

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

I purchased this porcelain drum form teapot a few years ago from a dealer who found it at a flea market in Brussels. It was made in China for export, most likely to North America or Europe, between 1830 and 1850. The classic Rose Medallion decoration includes 4 panels of people, birds, and flowers, painted in the famille rose palette of green, pink, blue, yellow, black, and gilt. It measures 5.5 inches high and 9.25 inches wide from handle to spout.

What makes this striking teapot stand out in a crowd are the unusual repairs. To replace the broken cross strapped handle, a hand carved wood replacement with removable brass straps was created, along with a papier mache replacement lid, cleverly incorporating the original pomegranate shaped knob and painted to match the broken original. Quite the curiosity piece, wouldn’t you say?! I have not seen repairs such as these before and can only wonder where this type of work was done. It does not appear to be North American, European, or Continental, so my feeling is that it was done in Asia or the Middle East. If anyone knows more about this type of repair, please let me know.

This similar teapot maintains its original handle and lid

Photo courtesy of WorthPoint