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Monday, July 29, 2013

Some things just speak to me.....

and sometimes I wish they could speak.  Some of you are probably aware that in my professional life I was a museum curator.   Things speak to me...they have stories to tell and are objects with which to teach history.  Sometimes their histories are mysteries.

It isn't surprising that as a "material culturist" I like things.  I used to go to auctions regularly with friends in Connecticut.  In the late 1980s,  I found this luster decorated teapot dumped somewhat sadly which a much nicer piece, an English white salt glaze stoneware teapot dating to about 1790.  It was a slow night at the auction, and I bought the box lot for $35.00.  I was after the saltglaze....but this one intrigued me.

Its shape is a little unusual. I haven't seen many like it.  It is English and dates to about 1830.  But that isn't why I am interested in it.  You can see the chunk out of the bottom portion (I have the piece) but this fell out later.  It is one beaten up piece.

In the 19th century, broken pieces of pottery were sometimes mended if the pieces had sentimental value.  They could never really be used again as the mend was....well....not like superglue.  You can see the crack lines in this photo, but look more carefully and you'll see an odd line next to the floral sprig at lower left, another perpendicular to the pink line at lower right, another at the right of the photo near the raised rim near the lid just above the handle.

Here's a closer look at the mend.  Yep, these are staples.  The mender (maybe a a tinker who mended all sorts of things) drilled small holes, then put a metal staple in to hold the pieces together. Then, the mender painted the staples so that they would blend in.  The white has yellowed now, but the green matches the green on the rim and on the side perfectly.  You can miss it if you aren't looking for it. The amazing thing is with all the breaks in it, the handle and spout are in perfect shape.  Maybe water which was too hot was put into a cold pot?

Why was this pot so special?  Why was it saved? Was it a gift and it was mended to remember the giver?  Was it a husband or child who put too much hot water into a cold pot and then felt so much remorse that they had it mended?

If only pots could talk!

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