Staffordshire sugar bowl, c.1860

August 23rd, 2020

This soft paste pottery footed sugar bowl was made in Staffordshire, England in the mid 1800s. It is decorated with polychrome hand painted flowers & leaves and measures 5.5 inches high, 7.75 inches wide. On the underside is an incised “2” and what appears to be a green hand painted number.

At some point during the early life of this pretty sugar bowl the lid slipped from someone’s fingers and the knob broke off. Rather than toss out a perfectly good bowl, a repurposed brass ring was attached to the lid, held into place with lead. Quite an unusual repair, as tiny rings such as this were used as small box or drawer pulls, and for picture hanging. This is the first time I have seen this type of repair and am pleased that over 100 years ago, someone saved a family heirloom by using a household object and a little bit of ingenuity.

This sugar bowl with similar form suggests what the original knob on mine might have looked like

Photo courtesy of The Townhouse Antiques

Spanish tin-glazed plate, c.1870

August 16th, 2020

Who doesn’t like blue and white ceramics? Not many, according to popular taste. Be it porcelain or pottery, Chinese or European, cobalt blue glaze on a white ground is arguably the most popular color combination throughout the world.

This tin-glazed earthenware pottery plate was made in Valencia, Spain in the mid to late 1800s. It measures 11.25 inches in diameter and is decorated with stylized flowers in teardrop shapes which form a ring. As lovely as the decoration is, I was drawn to the plate due to the 18 large double metal wire staples on the back holding the broken pieces together. After it was repaired, a rustic wire hanger was made so it could be displayed on the wall. With all the trouble the owner went through, this must have been a very special plate.

My plate would feel right at home among these similar examples at the Museu de Ceramica de Manises in Valencia, Spain.

Photo courtesy of Museu de Ceramica de Manises

Inside the Zwinger Palace vaults, part 2

August 9th, 2020

For those of you who enjoyed seeing the inventive repairs I posted in part 1, here are more examples. Same intro, new photos.

In May 2016 I traveled to Dresden, Germany, to see the world renowned ceramics collection at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Porzellansammlung, located in the Zwinger, Dresden’s magnificent palace. Not only did I see the jaw-droppingly gorgeous ceramics, sumptuously displayed in various rooms and hallways of the palace, but I was given a private tour by Heike Ulbricht, conservator of ceramics. Ms. Ulbricht was most generous with her time, spending over 2 hours showing me early repairs sprinkled throughout the collection, and giving me a peek at pieces she and her colleagues were currently working on. Only about 10% of the collection is on view to the public so I was thrilled to witness the astonishing collection of over 20,000 examples, kept cool in underground vaults below the great halls of the palace.

Please take a look at Inside the Zwinger Palace vaults, part 1,  previously posted and containing more examples from the collection.

Painted carved wood figural lid finial on a baluster form covered jar.

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The original porcelain finial.

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Painted plaster replacement lid finial in front, with 2 “perfect” examples at rear.

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Covered jar with resin replacement bird finial on lid.

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Faience replacement lid matches the hexagonal porcelain covered jar beautifully.

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A pair of vases, one with a replacement lid and the other with a bronze replacement lid finial.

Teapot with bronze replacement lid finial in the form of a twig.

Chinese teapot with applied flowers and triple repairs, c.1730

August 2nd, 2020

This baluster form porcelain teapot with applied flowers was made in China during the tail end of the Yongzheng period (1678-1735.) It measures 5 inches high, 6.75 inches from handle to spout and is decorated in the Famille Rose palette of green, orange, blue, lavender, and gilt.

Various craftspeople were kept busy making repairs on this poor injured fighter. We will never know exactly who did the repairs or when they were done but it seems likely that a metal smith made the silver replacement spout sometime in the 1700s-1800s. The rattan wrapped bronze replacement handle was most likely done in the 1800s and the wooden replacement knob could have been done as late as the early 1900s.

The last photo shows a similar teapot with all of its original parts intact, but I much prefer my mismatched sampler of various early repairs.

This teapot with similar form and decoration suggests what the original spout, handle, and knob on mine might have looked like before it took a tumble.

Photo courtesy of Northeast Auctions

Small copper lustre jug with metal handle, c.1830

July 26th, 2020

This small pottery jug with copper lustre glaze was most likely made by Enoch Wood & Sons in Staffordshire, England, c.1830. It stands 4.5 inches high and is much smaller than most of the other lustre jugs I have in my collection. I especially like the unusual, whimsical painted decoration, which looks like a tree of green eyeballs, right out of a Dr. Seuss book.

But the real reason you are viewing this jug is because of its metal replacement handle, added by a tinsmith after the original handle broke off. This type of repair is not unusual and can be found on all types of ceramics throughout the world. What makes it special to me is the juxtaposition of the clunky metal handle on the delicate pottery jug with the quirky decoration.

This gives you an idea of what the original handle on my jug would have looked like when it was intact.

Photo courtesy of George Gibison

Small compote with wood base, c.1915

July 19th, 2020

This small EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) compote or candy dish was made in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by the United States Glass Co., c.1915. Made affordable to the masses by simulating more expensive cut glass, EAPG was immediately popular and thousands of patterns were manufactured in every conceivable shape and style. This example is in the Australian Sweetmeat pattern and stands 6 inches high with a 4.5 inch opening.

At some point in its early life, the cover went missing and the glass base broke off. A replacement base, made from 2 pieces of carved wood, was most likely created at home. Originally painted black, the octagonal shape mimics the pattern in the glass.

This compote of similar form and pattern suggests with the original cover and base on mine might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Early American Pattern Glass Society

Mend it with Mendets

July 12th, 2020

Now more than ever it seems we are spending much of our time at home. Many, like myself, finally have time to go through our things, weed out unwanted items, and repair broken objects we’ve been meaning to fix but never got around to. I imagine (and hope!) this will lead to a new generation of inventive repairs popping up all around the globe. Stay tuned to see what interesting repairs I come up with in the coming months.

I have dozens of whimsical homemade repairs in my collection and have seen countless others showing thrift, artistry, and ingenuity. Although most were achieved by using whatever was available at hand, manufactured products started to creep up during the 1940s Make-Do and Mend era.

A popular early 1940s product, Mendets, provided a do-it-yourself solution to repairing holes in enameled cookware, metal pots, and even rubber hot water bottles. The white enameled cup, repaired with a small bolt and nut and not with an official Mendets plug, still seems to have done the trick.

Photo courtesy of eBay

Happy 4th of July!

July 5th, 2020

O, Say Can You See…these inventive repairs in patriotic colors?

I hope you enjoyed Independence Day weekend.

Stoneware teapot with flute player, c.1760

June 27th, 2020

This globular form salt-glazed stoneware teapot was made in Staffordshire, England, c.1760-65. It has a molded crabstock spout and is decorated in polychrome enamels of pink, green, yellow, blue, and black. I quite like how the male flute player and the female dancing among oversized flowers are rendered. Measures 3.25 inches high, 6 inches wide from handle to spout.

Someone must have been a bit clumsy over 200 years ago, as the little teapot has not one but two early repairs – a metal replacement handle and a metal replacement knob. These are both a bit rustic and most likely done by an itinerant tinker, traveling from town to town to repair all types of broken household objects. Thanks to the unsung hero who helped preserve this charming teapot, as well as the original owners who had to good sense to have it repaired and then pass it on for future generations to enjoy.

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

Photo courtesy of John Howard

Glass laboratory beaker, c.1920

June 14th, 2020

Glass beakers, jars, and test tubes have been breaking in chemistry labs for centuries. Not surprisingly, I have come across dozens of examples of fragile laboratory glassware with early repairs. As with this one, most of the repairs I find are broken beakers set into repurposed metal lids filled with plaster. These repairs were done in-house using whatever materials were on hand and were put back to use as soon as the plaster had set.

This glass beaker, which stands 7.25 inches high, was made around 1920 by Whitall Tatum Company, was one of the first glass factories in America. Located in Millville, New Jersey, they also manufactured glass bottles and insulators. It has etched marks on the side: “TO DELIVER GUARANTEED ACCURATE, N.Y WHITALL TATUM CO., PHILA.” and: “N.Y. CITY AND PENNA. APPROVED TYPE III, SERIAL A-2.”

Check out a previous post, Two glass beakers, c.1890, showing similar repairs.

This beaker shows what the original base on mine would have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Etsy