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30cm Grands Magasins du Louvre sauté

VFC

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This pan has been restored — masterfully — by Rocky Mountain Retinning.

30cm Grands Magasins du Louvre sauté

  • Type: Tin-lined sauté with brass handle fastened with three copper rivets
  • French description: Sauteuse étamée avec poignée en laiton munie de trois rivets en cuivre
  • Dimensions: 30cm diameter by 8cm tall (11.8 inches by 3.1 inches)
  • Weight: 3354g (7.4 lbs)
  • Thickness: 2mm at rim
  • Stampings: “Grands Magasins du Louvre Paris”; 30; N LS
  • Maker and age estimate: Mauviel-Gauthier Frères; 1880s
  • Source: lazylou2002 (eBay UK)

Ever since reader Tom Larham wrote his guest post, Mauviel’s Masterpieces: Copper at the Grands Magasins du Louvre, Paris, I’ve kept an eye out for copper with this stamp. As Tom points out, du Louvre pans can be few and far between, especially in larger sizes. So when I saw this one online — a substantial 30cm sauté, unrestored but in good structural condition — I was immediately drawn to it.

But it was in pretty rough shape. Here’s one of the photos from the listing.

30cm Grands Magasins du Louvre sauté

 

This is not a ding against the seller, lazylou2002. She was perfectly forthcoming with detailed photos (as you can see in this post), and she priced the pan well, knowing that I’d bear the additional expense of retinning it. I knew exactly what I was getting into: a pan with great potential that needed a lot of work.

But it was a gamble. Take a look at the handle. Crusting around handles is a common issue with antique pans. On iron-handled pans, it can be devastating: as the iron rusts, it produces secondary compounds that react with the copper and corrode it as well. The iron becomes pitted, the copper around the base gets etched, and it’s bad. (Always wash and dry carefully around the base of iron handles, and wax them against rust!)

But this pan’s handle is brass. Despite the extensive buildup, I had reason to hope that the carbonized oils hadn’t reacted with the brass or the copper. But it would be a hell of a job to get it off.

30cm Grands Magasins du Louvre sauté

 

Fortunately, there is Erik Undiks at Rocky Mountain Retinning. He did magnificent work with this pan, managing to remove every bit of surface buildup without scraping or scratching the copper or brass. It’s that combination of brute force and delicate technique that makes his restoration work so special. There is some very minor corrosion around the outer edge of the handle, but as you can see below, it’s in fantastic shape.

30cm Grands Magasins du Louvre sauté

 

Erik uncovered the beautiful pan that I hoped to find under more than a century’s worth of grime.

30cm Grands Magasins du Louvre sauté

This is an antique pan but I’m having a hard time pinning down its date of manufacture. The Grands Magasins du Louvre existed from 1877 to 1974 but I’m increasingly confident that this pan is likely from the early period of the store’s history. It was most likely made by Mauviel — at that time, Mauviel-Gautier Frères.

30cm Grands Magasins du Louvre sauté

The copper sheet feels very irregular to me, which suggests an intriguing possibility: could this pan have been hand-raised? That is, rather than pressed from rolled copper sheet, could it have been hammered into shape? That could explain the overall rippled look of the copper and the lack of dovetailing. The irregularities in the surface texture are too ordered, in my opinion, to be the result of abuse — the pan is neither out of round nor dented, nor is the base bowed out.

30cm Grands Magasins du Louvre sauté

The texture of this pan reminds me of my 23cm Victoria & Albert braisière that I believe was made between 1841 and 1860, and also of the older of this pair of daubières — the smaller oval one, likely early industrial, almost certainly handmade. I think whatever percussive force created this texture was intentional and it suggests to me that this pan is pre-1870 or so, before industrial machinery made smoother and more regular copper pans.

In addition to the Grands Magasins du Louvre store stamp, this pan is stamped with its diameter in centimeters — 30 — as well as owner stamps “N” and “LS.” Unfortunately, that’s not enough to go on to speculate as to its specific history .

I am really impressed with Erik’s work to restore this pan. Here are some more before and after photos. The photos on the left are from the pan’s listing on eBay; I tried to reproduce the same angle so you can see how the restored pan looks now.

 

The restoration uncovered additional stamps near the handle base that were completely covered with carbonized grease.

 

The interior had been completely stripped of tin and had picked up streaks of bright-green verdigris. This is a sign that this pot sat unlined and undisturbed for years, as verdigris takes time to form. This level of tin wear suggests to me that this pot has not been used since the early 20th century: before the invention of dish soap in World War I, cooks used sand to scour copper pots clean. This pan had been scrubbed of tin wall-to-wall and halfway up the sides. Erik’s smooth layer of mirror-like tin will last for decades with common-sense handling.

 

As you can see below, the pan underneath the carbonized gunk is beautiful.

This is a restoration success story and I hope it encourages you to work with a good coppersmith like Erik. As I say above, I took a gamble on this pan, hoping that its ugly appearance was only skin deep. Erik’s skill is profound but he cannot fix everything — if you’re considering buying a diamond in the rough, so to speak, make sure you fully understand its condition, and learn to distinguish surface flaws from more problematic structural issues that may not be fixable. If you’re not sure, consider emailing a photo of the pan to your coppersmith of choice to see what he or she says about it.

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3 Comments

  1. VFC,
    Thank you for showcasing our work. You do an amazing job of educating and supporting the copper cookware community!

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