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PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK PRIVATE COLLECTOR

A fine and rare George III paktong and steel fire grate circa 1775
Estimate
60,00080,000
LOT SOLD. 62,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
50

PROPERTY OF A NEW YORK PRIVATE COLLECTOR

A fine and rare George III paktong and steel fire grate circa 1775
Estimate
60,00080,000
LOT SOLD. 62,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important English and European Decorative Arts

|
New York

A fine and rare George III paktong and steel fire grate circa 1775
height 27 1/2 in.; width 30 in.; depth 16 1/2 in.
69.9 cm; 76.2 cm; 41.9 cm
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Sotheby’s New York, October 21-22, 1999, lot 409

Catalogue Note

Paktong, or white copper, is an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc with a soft silver-colored hue which does not tarnish. It appears to have its origins in China, one of the earliest references to the metal occurring in The Great Historical Geographical Genealogical and Poetical Dictionary, published in 1688, which under the heading, 'Empire of China...Province of Chekiang.......they have a white kind of copper which is but a little dearer than common yellow copper'. In China it was used mainly for small items for domestic use and for fittings found on furniture such as handles and hinges. From the small number of pieces which have survived from the 18th century, and the lack of official records, it is surmised that it was possibly only imported into England by individual members of the East India Company trading on their own account.

This scarcity obviously precluded its wide utilization in the manufacture of most domestic wares, and it is therefore interesting to note that its use was basically confined to two categories, namely candlesticks and to fire grates. For the latter it was obviously a most desirable metal, its close resemblance to silver and resistance to heat and tarnishing being eminently suitable for the purpose. Many of the surviving examples are, as seen in the present lot, designed in the neo-classical taste.  Although the alloy is not specifically mentioned in the drawings of Robert Adam depicting chimney-pieces, they are nevertheless found in houses designed by him. These include Osterley Park, Syon House, Saltram, and Nostell Priory.

Although designs for grates were included in many contemporary furniture pattern books such as the third edition of Thomas Chippendale's Director in 1762, there are few surviving references in manuscript documents which allows the attribution of them to a particular maker. The present grate is related to a design published I. Taylor in The Stove-Grate Makers Assistant, a Treasury of Original and Fashionable Designs for Bath Stoves, Pennsylvania Stoves, Single & Double Standard Grates , Fret &C by W. Glossop, Stove Grate Maker,  1771, pl. 22.

A group of very similar fire grates in paktong differing in the detail of their ornament and style of fire-back are recorded including one illustrated by W. D. John and Katherine Coombs, Paktong, Newport, 1970, p. 4, one sold Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, April 16-19 1947, lot 98, one sold Christie's, London, June 27, 1985, and another sold Sotheby's, New York, October 12, 2007, lot 204.

See:

W. D. John & Katherine Coombs, Paktong, Newport , 1970

Christopher Gilbert and Anthony Wells-Cole, The Fashionable Fire Place 1660-1840, Leeds, 1985

Keith Pinn, Paktong, The Chinese Alloy in Europe, Woodbridge, 1990

Important English and European Decorative Arts

|
New York