The raised, cloudy white pâte-sur-pâte decoration is carved to look like a cameo on a Minton dinner plate collected by makeup artist Kimara Ahnert.
Kimara inherited this pâte-sur-pâte wall plaque by Johann Stahl for Mettlach, circa 1900. It once belonged to her husband’s grandmother.
Hand-blown compotes with wheel-engraved decoration by Pairpoint, circa 1910, and new "Maharani" champagne flutes by Moser.
A Limoges vase, one of a pair collected by Kimara. The vase is signed by "B. Madeline" and dates back to the 1880s.
The pâte-sur-pâte process requires brushing on layers of liquid clay (slip) to build a low relief on a tinted surface and carving the details to resemble a cameo. "The technique creates depth and transparency," says dealer Lori Hedtler of Devonia Antiques. "You can see right through the floating veils and water." Pâte-sur-pâte first appeared in 18th-century China, but superstar French ceramist Marc-Louis Solon perfected the process at Sèvres, then headed to England where he shared his secrets with Minton in 1870. Minton plates signed by Solon command some of the highest prices, but there’s also a premium for work by his gifted apprentices like Frederick Rhead and Albion Birks. Today, talented English artist and ceramist Dale Bowen keeps the craft alive. For a closer look at his attractive vases and jars, go to patesurpate.com.
A Dorflinger & Sons cut-glass and etched punch bowl (circa 1914) is admired by the collecting duo who are fans of the Corning Museum of Glass, where the super-sized bowl is on display. Marked only by paper labels that often fell off, Dorflinger’s works are identified and dated now through patterns found in original catalogs.
The poppy punch bowl combines acid-etched (poppy motif) and cut-glass (panels and chisel marks) techniques. Acid-etched decoration is created by coating the glass in wax, then scratching the design through the wax. Dipped into hydrofluoric acid, the exposed glass is etched by the corrosive acid. Diamond-point engraving, an earlier and costlier process, requires cutting directly into the glass by hand. Copper-wheel engraving requires a lathe-like machine fitted with grinding tools to cut decoration into glass. Always feel for a slightly raised design to separate engraved glass from the more affordable but flatter acid-etched glass.
The curvy, scalloped, cut rim crowns the punch bowl with a shapely silhouette few can resist. The rough, chisel-like pit marks look hand-hammered but were cut on a wheel. The flowery Kalana series, designed by Englishman Charles Northwood, includes poppies, lilies, and geraniums. The floral pattern was inspired by the Art Nouveau movement.
Exquisite decanters handcrafted in 1870 by the legendary glass company J. & L. Lobmeyr in Vienna, where its boutique still stands today (lobmeyr.at). Kimara has purchased glass from its archival collection.
Raised 22-karat gold scrollwork plates by Minton, circa 1900, with Reed & Barton’s ornate "Francis I" knife, a family heirloom. Kimara is attracted to the shimmer and texture of raised gold.
Machine-made glass lacks the sparkle of cut crystal, says Kimara. "Machine cuts aren’t as sharp," agrees mom Bonnie. Detail of a cut-glass decanter probably by Dorflinger or Hawkes.
The underside of a pàte-sur-pàte plate custom-ordered through Tiffany but made by Minton. "Special-order china hit its peak from 1890 to 1910, the Gilded Age," says Lori Hedtler of Devonia.
Intaglio (Italian for engraving) is a technique that involves cutting the design deep into the glass (as opposed to a cameo, where the image is raised). The technique was developed by the ancient Greeks and later used by Egyptians and Romans, who carved precious stones.
The technique was revived in 17th-century Germany and Bohemia by gem-cutter Caspar Lehmann, who adapted intaglio to glass. Victorians were fond of reverse intaglio crystals (carved out cabochon crystals that were painted from the back). Think fox-hunt cuff links that have a 3-D trompe l’oeil effect. Kimara often sets her table with colorful Czech intaglio glass placecard holders, circa 1910 (left). One of her favorite scenes depicts the Three Graces in a circle holding hands.
Grandmother’s cut-glass lamps are back. One of a pair, Kimara’s treasure was a gift her grandparents received on their 25th wedding anniversary. Nearby is a French Jumeau automaton doll that Kimara purchased for $10,175 at an auction in Pennsylvania.
At the turn of the last century, Mary Lily Flagler was Palm Beach’s best-known hostess. For a peek inside her Gilded-Age mansion, Whitehall, go to the Flagler Museum Web site. See Flagler’s French Renaissance-style dining room (left) and other sumptuous interiors that inspire Kimara.
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Collecting: Gilded Age China and Glass
Hand-painted porcelain, silverware, and raised-gold glassware