Posts Tagged ‘iron’

Large toy cannon, c.1890

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

This is the last and largest of the three cannons I purchased as a lot last November. It measures 12-1/4″ long, 4-3/4″ tall and I believe it was made in America in the late 1800s. When a young boy played a bit too rough and broke the toy cannon one Fourth of July in the early 1900s, I imagine his handy dad or grandfather carved a wood base to replace the broken cast iron original, adding embellishments such as paper stars and the letters “U S” to its sides. The barrel, with remains of the original black surface, sits on a metal plate and is fastened to the wood trolley using metal straps. The carved wood wheels are connected to a wood axel with metal pins and a strip of tin edging is attached to the back tail using numerous nail heads. I love the original dark green painted surface with gold trim and alligator finish, consistent on all three of the cannons, suggesting that they were repaired by the same person or at least in the same household. Please take a look at these other two posts, including a small and a medium-sized cannon, which make up the remainder of this terrific trio.






This intact bronze cannon with fanciful trolly shows where the inspiration came from for the carved wood base on mine.

bronze cannon

Photo courtesy of Live Auctioneers

Medium-sized toy cannon, c.1880

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

There seems to be a multitude of original toy cannon barrels married to wood replacement bases, as I have encountered numerous examples since I started collecting antiques with inventive repairs. This fine toy was most likely made in America in the last quarter of the 19th century and is made of brass with a replaced wood base, freely carved from a block of what appears to be pine. It measures 7-1/2″ long, stands 2-3/4″ tall and the barrel alone is 3-1/2″ long. The remains of the original barrel are firmly nailed to the replacement base using a leather strap. The original green painted surface reveals much wear from years of imaginative playing. Two sets of nail holes on one side suggest perhaps a length of chain was once attached. I purchased this in the same lot as two other toy cannons, all with the same green painted surface and graduating in size. Please take a look at the smallest one, previously posted, and stay tuned for the largest example, which I will post sometime in the near future.






This toy cannon, also made of brass, is in its original form and shows what mine may have looked like before the barrel was strapped on to its wood replacement base. Though not up to military code, I still prefer mine!


Photo courtesy of Esty

**UPDATE 4/23**

An astute  subscriber and former gun collector has informed me that this cute li’l toy cannon is actually made from the barrel of a REAL GUN! Please read his amusing and telling comments below, which shed some light on this toys former life on the streets, defending helpless women. And this is what the European ladies percussion muff pistol looked like when it was still intact and used as a deadly weapon, c.1840:

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 9.41.57 PM

Photo courtesy of Sailor in Saddle


African wood bowl, c.1900

Friday, May 13th, 2011

My extraordinarily talented friend Bibiana made me another birthday cake with an inventive repair theme this year and it was presented to me in this wonderful make-do bowl. She purchased it many years ago when she worked as a food stylist and used it as a prop in numerous photo shoots. Unfortunately, the cake was so delicious that it was immediately cut up and eaten before a photo was taken. But I am glad this bowl was not eaten along with the cake and I am happy to add it to my collection near to my lightweight jogging stroller.

This bowl was made in Africa, possibly Ethiopia, and was hand carved from a single piece of lightweight wood.

It measures approximately 10-1/4″ in diameter and is 2-1/2″ high.

After the bowl dropped and cracked in half, it was mended with rivets and 4 iron support straps, most likely by the village tinker.

Both the bowl and the iron repairs have a lovely patina from many years of use.

The underside reveals scratches, bruises and other imperfections in the wood, which I like to think of as battle scars and only add more character to the bowl.

For more reviews on the best lightweight jogging stroller.

Toys for the holidays

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Well, the votes are in and the absolute favorite item featured in The New York Times article from last week was the Cold painted cast lead dog figure, c.1930. I received numerous comments and emails on this piece, including “The dog is my favorite, it is almost impossibly poignant”, “I especially liked the little dog with the ‘prosthetic’ leg” and “That little dog you have is so much better than any mint-in-the-box action figure or something like that”.

With that in mind and with this being the holiday season, I am including some other toys with inventive repairs that I hope you will enjoy seeing again. Please click on the title to see the original post with information and additional photos.

Cast iron horse drawn ladder wagon, c.1900

German doll head pen wiper, c.1900

Toy cast iron cannon, c.1880

Googly doll door stop, c.1930

Staffordshire child’s mug, c.1840

Happy Holidays and I look forward to sharing more examples from my collection with you in 2011!

Large brass skimmer, c.1840

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Heavy brass skimmer made by an English metalsmith in the mid-1800’s. After many years use of skimming the contents of an iron pot in an open hearth, the skimmer finally snapped off at the end of its long handle

A thick iron patch was attached to the front, using hand forged iron rivets

Skimmer measures 25-1/2″ long and has a diameter of 9-1/4″

A combination of iron and copper rivets were used to attach the “Y” shaped reinforcement patch to the back

Cast iron clothes iron, c.1900

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Every household in America had one. Many, such as this one, have a replaced handle. Some irons were just too heavy to support a lighter handle and many snapped off after years of constant use. Currently this iron is being used as a doorstop in my office and I almost forgot to include it in my blog. It is one of a select few “inventive repairs” that I am using in my home for a purpose other than what it was originally intended for.

Faint remains of the original handle are visible on either side of the replaced handle.

This lucky survivor still has its original handle.

Photo courtesy of WorthPoint

Toy cast iron cannon, c.1880

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

A well worn English miniature cannon from the late 19th century shows it was much loved for many years. A Victorian boy perhaps found this under his Christmas tree and played with it until the delicate base became detached, leaving the sturdy cannon barrel abandoned.

The boy’s father, grandfather, friend, or the boy himself must have whittled the crude base out of a piece of scrap wood and attached the iron barrel using two pieces of heavy wire. A coat of brown paint completed the repair and although the cannon looks nothing at all like the unbroken original, it is still highly functional and no doubt brought joy to the original owner.

Cannon in its new incarnation with replacement wood base measures 6-1/2″ long.

The underside reveals pitted metal wire and and an unfinished wood surface.

This toy cast iron ship’s signal cannon from the early 1800’s shows what the original base on my cannon might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Land and Sea Collection

Cast iron horse drawn ladder wagon, c.1900

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

A small cast iron fragment is all that remains of an elaborate miniature horse drawn ladder wagon. Someone loved their toy almost “to death” and I am grateful to whoever nailed the remains to a scrap of wood, breathing new life in to their cherished plaything.

Cast iron toys were extremely popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, as they were easy to mass produce. Durable as they were, cast iron was still likely to snap if misused.

A single bent nail holds the 8-1/2″ long American toy upright. This has got to be one of the most poignant toys with inventive repairs I have ever seen and I am amazed that it survived over one hundred years.

Intact wagon, shown in all of its splendor, with horses, firemen and removable ladders. The back end & wheels are all that remains of my extraordinary “make-do” toy.

Photo courtesy of Live Auctioneers