Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Damaged goods or favourite treasure? by Maggie Bryant

Recently I was rearranging my Q, a.k.a. playing with faience, when it occurred to me that one of my favourite pieces was indeed damaged quite badly.
In fact I had always meant to have it professionally restored but never got around to it.
It is a large Henriot Quimper vase circa 1930, beautifully decorated with a Breton couple dancing a gavotte on the front and a Porquier Beau inspired botanical on the reverse. Lavish blue on blue acanthus leaf decor around the neck, base and side and the ubiquitous ajonc spray and armorial crest of Brittany complete the decor.
The botanical is the decor that I usually display, as it appeals so much to me, despite this being the damaged side.

Back in the late 1990's a pretty pair of blue and white dishes with ruffled rims were my first Quimper purchase. I found them here in Normandy at an auction being held in a seaside home in Herouville Saint Clair on the Cote de Nacre and they only caught my eye because of my love of blue and white china.
On closer inspection, after I had bought them of course, I discovered that they were very damaged and had been glued together in a very amateurish way but still they spoke to me and I loved them.
A couple of years later I discovered that the HB mark beneath the little lady & gent denoted that they had been manufactured in the late 1800's by the Grand Maison de la Hubaudiere in the famous pottery town of Quimper, Brittany.

They remain two of my favourites to this day despite the breathtaking pieces of Quimper I have seen since then.

So, am I the only quimpernut to love imperfect pieces? Surely there must be other QCI members out there who cherish something battered & bruised.
If so post a comment beneath, your secret is safe with me!


  1. No Maggie, you are not alone. I can appreciate things with a 'history' and some damage. In fact, there are several things I have bought and left 'as is'. I always think that seldom could many things survive for 100+ years and be intact, not have some blemish.

    As with Maggie, I would be curious to hear others thoughts.

  2. One of my favorite pieces is a star-shaped trivet with a croisillé decor that I bought by photo, and it was a lot more damaged than I expected. So it went into the house to live with us, and I am extremely fond of it - the decor is so colorful and meticulous. Trivets seem to sustain a fair amount of damage, maybe because of how they are used.

    On the other hand, one of the first really old pieces I ever bought turned out to be so extensively restored (and not very well, either) that it is unsaleable, unusable, and not worth having restored again. I keep it as a reminder ... caveat emptor.

  3. My first Q purchase was a cider beaker (although I didn't know that at the time) decorated with a petit bretonne which I paid £30 about 17 years ago, it has a hairline from top to bottom.....
    I wouldn't give it a second glance now but can I part with it ? Of course not.....

  4. Maggie, I've always felt that if someone doesn't save these damaged pieces they will end up in the trash heap. Two of my favorite rescues are a pair of salts: a young girl seated with a bird cage in her lap, the other a young man with the bird perched on his finger. They were an eBay auction item that simply stole my heart. Once they arrived I made the decision to send them to France to be properly restored. They are marked with a single P. I've always been curious to know who produced this charming couple and when, though they remain favorites that sit front and center on my Welssh dresser in my dining room. There are other "blemished pieces" within my collection that are also valued simply for their charm and endurance through the years.

  5. I have to say that if the piece "speaks to me" because of the charm of the design, and most especially, the quality of the painting of the people, then I find I HAVE to save it! Sometimes I have it restored, and sometimes I just enjoy it as it. It seems sometimes, that I shouldn't buy these things..but they have just had some trouble in their lives..and still have so much to offer, and think of the artist who spent so much time and talent on this piece of art!

  6. No, Maggie, you're not the only "quimpernut" out here who loves their "wholly challenged" pieces....but I'm the lucky one who got the appellation for her email address: quimpernut@aol.com! If I die, I've instructed Jeff to auction off my email address to the highest bidder.....just kidding! I'm not going to die. Barbara Richardson