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36cm Gaillard daubière, “Napoleon”

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When I unpacked this daubière and beheld it for the first time, I recognized it immediately. I mean, the resemblance is uncanny, is it not?

36cm Gaillard daubière, “Napoleon”

  • Type: Tin-lined daubière in hammered finish with brass handles fitted with three copper rivets; cap-style lid with side handles in brass fitted with three copper rivets
  • French descriptionDaubière étamée et martelée avec poignées en laiton munie de trois rivets en cuivre; couvercle emboîtant avec poignées latérales en laiton munies de trois rivets en cuivre
  • Dimensions: 36cm long by 20.5cm deep by 18 cm tall (14.2 inches by 7.1 inches by 7.9 inches), not including lid
  • Thickness: 2mm at rim
  • Weight: 5150g (11.4 lbs) without lid, 7490g (16.5 lbs) with lid
  • Stampings: GAILLARD PARIS in the large arch style (Type 1)
  • Maker and age estimate: Gaillard; 1930s-1940s
  • Source: eBay

This is a daubière, a type of pan sometimes called a “braiser box” because it is designed with a tight-fitting lid to help contain moisture over a long period of cooking meat and vegetables. The French word daube, from which this vessel gets its name, means stew, but this pan would be perfectly happy with a few game hens or a large cut of beef, whatever you can cram into it.

This piece is configured a little unusually: its lid has two handles mounted on the sides, directly over the handles for the base of the pan. Most daubières (including the modern ones made today by Mauviel) have top-mounted handles and look sort of like a suitcase or an old-fashioned makeup case. But with this style of daubière, the handles can be grasped together when the lid is closed.

36cm Gaillard daubière, “Napoleon”

I like this style because the lid can be used on its own as a roasting pan. This lid is a couvercle emboîtant: it has a flange running around the edge that fits tightly around the rim of the pan, so that the lid slides onto the pan like a cap. Note that the lid is perfect flat and does not have a recessed area, as may be seen on the lid of other daubières.

36cm Gaillard daubière, “Napoleon”

 

This daubière was restored by Jim Hamann at East Coast Tinning, and he did a lovely job with it. I am told a daubière presents a challenge in that tin must be dabbed into the creases to ensure a nice thick bead is present. When you see a daubière with what looks like extra dribbles of tin in the corners, know that they’re there on purpose.

36cm Gaillard daubière, “Napoleon”

 

Jim creates a lovely silvery matte surface. The pan just gleams.

36cm Gaillard daubière, “Napoleon”

 

You may have noticed by now that this pan has a little damage. If you look at it straight on, you can see that one of the pan’s lower handles is bent so that it dips down at a slight angle from its partner handle. (The handles on the other side are parallel.)

36cm Gaillard daubière, “Napoleon”

 

This is not an uncommon occurrence. I’ve seen bent handles on rondeaux, stewpots, and stockpots, and I think it’s a hazard for any pot or pan that has projecting handles. The pressure it would have taken to do this is not inconsiderable; the brass handle appears to have deformed slightly, and the copper of the pan has also creased. You can see the slight distortion in the photo below where the reflection is just right, but this is not obvious and doesn’t detract from the beauty of the pan, in my opinion.

36cm Gaillard daubière, “Napoleon”

 

I mean, who among us can claim to have come through the wars unscathed?

36cm Gaillard daubière, “Napoleon”

 

This daubière bears a genuine “Gaillard Paris” stamp, the version I call Type 1. The alignment of the G and P is correct.

36cm Gaillard daubière, “Napoleon”

 

Daubières seem like anachronisms to me — like the coelacanth and the crocodile, modern-day fossils doggedly carrying forward the DNA of an earlier time.

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