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18cm casserole à glacer

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This is a charming and well-made glazing saucepan, but I’m not entirely sure it’s French.

18cm casserole à glacer

  • Type: Tin-lined glazing saucepan in hammered finish with iron handle fitted with three copper rivets and tight-fitting cap-style lid with iron handle and three copper rivets
  • French descriptionCasserole à glacer étamé et martelé avec queue de fer munie de trois rivets en cuivre, et couvercle emboîtant avec queue de fer munie de trois rivets en cuivre
  • Dimensions: 18cm diameter by 8cm tall (7.1 inches by 3.1 inches)
  • Weight: 2321g without lid (5.1lbs); 3486g with lid (7.7 lbs)
  • Thickness: 2.7mm at rim
  • Stampings: None
  • Maker and age estimate: Unknown; possibly 1840-1880?
  • Source: Etsy

When I bought this, the seller described it as a “Jack and Jill” pan, a term I hadn’t heard before, but the characterization is apt: the pan and its lid fit together closely and the handles can be grasped as one to clamp the two parts together quite securely.

18cm casserole à glacer

 

Separately, the base pan is a casserole, a general-use saucepan. The addition of a well-fitted cap-style lid turns it into a casserole à glacer, a small braising vessel that keeps a sauce — the glaze — from any undesirable thickening due to evaporation. This one has a flat-topped cap-style couvercle emboîtant that could double as a crepe pan on its own.

18cm casserole à glacer

 

I suspect this pan is from the 19th century.  Both the pan and its lid have “the dot” — a small divot in the exact center, the mark left by the poêlier as he marked the center and then balanced the pot on a point to check its evenness.

18cm casserole à glacer

 

The internal rivets look very similar to Gaillard and Dehillerin work of the late 1880s to early 1900s — finished to a wide and flat surface but not perfectly flush. The external rivets also show signs of hand-hammering. I believe the rivets were hand-made, hand-inserted, and hand-finished before the era when machinery was available to perform these tasks.

The handles are a design I haven’t seen before. The rounded end with its teardrop cut-out looks French to me, but the rectangular baseplates do not. In my experience, French iron handle baseplates are rounded, but of course this would not have worked with this pan design. Look how the handle leaves the pan body at a 90-degree angle from the baseplate; the mass in the baseplate of a classic French iron handle would get in the way.

Compare this to another casserole à glacer I have, one that is certainly French and likely Gaillard. You can immediately tell them apart by the splayed handles on the Gaillard. The set of the Gaillard’s classic French handles prevents them from lining up; on the pan on the right, the handles overlap neatly. The Gaillard’s lid handle does not extend straight out from the pan, but rather at an angle, such that the pan and handle do not lie flat.

I think the design of this pan is quite elegant, and more clever than the Gaillard. The handle loop, rivets, and overall craftsmanship look very French to me, but the square baseplates are unique. Perhaps this was an item made to order as a sort of experiment, or it was made by a smaller atelier with which I am not familiar. I would consider it a modern era pan were it not for the marks of hand-work on it, but then, it could be a re-creation. Such mystery!

The pot carries a tiny maker’s stamp, so small that I didn’t realize what it was. The stamp is a dot about 2 millimeters in diameter, almost like a microdot. This is another modernist element that seems almost out of place against the hand-craftsmanship of the pan — traditional makers sized their stamps to be easily legible.

The stamp contains the letters G and R within the circle. Do you know who this could be?

But regardless of who made this pan and its lid, their thoughtful design is central to their beauty.

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