Archive for May, 2020

Pair of Chinese jugs with silver spouts, c.1720

Saturday, 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

Sunday, 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!

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

Whimsical Victorian pin cushion, c.1880

Saturday, 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