Posts Tagged ‘wood’

Antique wood REPAIRING sign, c.1900

Sunday, November 29th, 2020

I purchased this sign over the summer and finally got around to hanging it above one of my display cabinets this weekend. Not sure what type of repairing it advertised, but I’d like to think it was for all types of inventive repairs. It measures approximately 39 inches wide and is made from wood. The applied letters, once painted a bright gold, have mellowed with age. The arrow, which hangs from chains, is a make-do itself, as the bottom half of the point broke off and was replaced.

Bisque doll with wooden legs, c.1890

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

This small doll made of tinted bisque (unglazed porcelain) was made in Germany in the late 1800s and measures 5 inches long. It was owned by my cousin-in-law Carol, who got it from her mother, a doll collector with an impressive collection. Carol believes that her mother made the hand crocheted outfit and that her great-grandfather made wood replacement legs after the original ones shattered.

Not surprisingly, there seems to be a large number of broken vintage toys with inventive repairs out there. China and bisque were the predominant materials used for making children’s tea sets, dolls, and other fragile toys, so naturally they would end up chipped, cracked and broken.

I think Carol’s great-grandfather did a fine job whittling and painting this sturdy pair of wood legs to replace the broken originals.

This is what the original bisque legs on Carol’s doll might have looked like before Geppetto whittled a new pair.

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Photo courtesy of Ruby Lane

Pierrette clothespin doll, c.1920

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

This unmarked porcelain novelty was most likely produced in Germany around 1920 and measures 5-3/4″ long. Also known as half dolls, they were typically attached to tops of pincushions, boxes and small clothes brushes and displayed on vanity and dresser tops. This one graduated from half doll to full doll, with the aid of a wooden clothespin attached at the waist. I imagine that after the piece broke, a handy dad whittled the lower extremities to form makeshift prosthetic legs. In an attempt to create a respectable outfit for this coquettish lass, the clothespin legs were covered in now faded pink cloth tape, the duct tape of its day. Wouldn’t it be great if this immobile doll ended up in a doll house, filled with inventively repaired miniature furnishings and inhabitants, including a make-do Pierrot?






This lovely lady sits atop a powder box and still has her original porcelain legs.


Photo courtesy of LiveJournal

Sterling turtle tape measure, c.1920

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

I just returned from the Antiques Garage Flea Market in Chelsea with this whimsical turtle-shaped tape measure with an inventive repair. It was purchased from dealer Janet West, who has great taste and wonderful eye for the unusual. The sterling and brass tape measure dates from the first quarter of the 20th century and measures 2-3/8″ long. Written in a quirky font in raised letters on the back “I have three feet that measure thirty six inches”, a witticism pertaining to the 3′ cloth tape measure once concealed inside the shell. When the original silver head became detached and lost, a clever person whittled a new head out of wood, carefully carving out delicate facial features. So even though this perky little turtle began its life as a sewing implement for an adult, it was reborn as a toy to be played with and loved by the next generation.






This lucky guy still has his original silver head, but I think mine has more character.


It’s no wonder the original head and flimsy cloth tape on my little fellow became detached. I would bet a small child pulled the head out one too many times, just as I would have done at that age.


Photos courtesy of Silver Magpie

I am a turtle lover and would have bought the tape measure even if it were in “perfect” condition but as you know from reading my posts, perfection is in the eye of the beholder and to me this one IS perfect. My love of turtles began in the second grade when I was taken on a class trip to the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ. Soon after that I had a quick succession of pet turtles, all named Cornelius, and all buried in the back yard of our Short Hills, NJ 1920s English Tudor style house. As the turtle tape measure and my old house date from the same period, the original home owner might have owned my tape measure!

Now we have dozens of unnamed turtles, which I look forward to seeing each spring, in the pond at our house in Upstate NY. I took this photo of an eastern painted turtle laying her eggs in our garden last summer.


Bahima milk container, c.1950

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

A wooden milk container, known as ekyanzi, was made in Uganda, Africa by the Hima/Bahima tribe in the mid-20th century. It measures 9-1/2″ tall, with a 2-1/2″ diameter opening. The wonderfully graphic indigenous repairs, including zipper-like alternating folded tabs to mend cracks, and coin-shaped plugs to fill holes, are made of recycled aluminum. The equally graphic woven covers are not always found with the pots and are collected independently.







A Bahima girl with her family’s wooden milk pots. The lighter colored pots are made from gourds.


Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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.

Finger jointed box lid, c.1890

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

American wooden pantry box lid from a Shaker style oval storage box with original, warm patina surface. When I found this lid at an antiques shop in West Stockbridge, MA a few years ago it was being used as a tray

Measures 10-1/2″ wide, 7-1/2″ deep, 3/4″ high

This type of crack stabilizing wood strip repair is quite common in household items and I have seen many examples such as this over the years

The stack of finger jointed pantry boxes below includes a large Shaker example at the bottom

Photo courtesy of Z & K Antiques

Wooden mortar & pestle, c.1875

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Large American primitive lathe-turned treenware mortar (with original red painted surface) & pestle, together measure 13″ high.

It was not unusual for wooden utilitarian items such as bowls and mortars to crack, due to a change in climate. Two steel bands were added to help stabilize the large break.

The underside of the mortar shows concentric lathe rings, reminding me of a 45 rpm vinyl record.