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Set of three roasting pans, “Les trois sœurs”

VFC

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These three sisters belong together.

Trio of roasting pans

TypeThree tin-lined roasting pans with brass handles
attached with three copper rivets
French descriptionTrois plaques à rôtir étamées avec poignées en laiton
munies de trois rivets en cuivre
Dimensions30cm long by 20cm wide by 5.5cm high
(11.8 by 7.9 by 2.2 inches)
35cm long by 25cm wide by 6cm high
(13.8 by 9.8 by 2.4 inches)
40cm long by 30cm wide by 6.5cm high
(15.7 by 11.8 by 2.6 inches)
Thickness1.5mm1.8mm1.8mm
Weight1580g
(3.5 lbs)
2584g
(5.7 lbs)
3462g
(7.6 lbs)
StampingsNone
Maker and age estimateUnknown;
1880s-1900?
SourceEtsy

It was the handles that drew my eye. The Etsy seller posted a roasting pan whose baseplates had a scroll-like flourish that I know well. I have a couple of pieces with handles like this, and they show skilled 19th century hand-work including dovetails and the dot.

Trio of roasting pans

I purchased the pan and the seller remarked that he had two others just like it and asked if I was interested in them as well. Of course I said yes.

Trio of roasting pans

They are truly a matched set, measuring 30cm, 35cm, and 40cm in length. I have nicknamed them les trois sœurs, the three sisters.

Trio of roasting pans

Nested within each other, the tops of the handles step down slightly from largest to smallest.

 

All four corners of each pan are neatly dovetailed.

Trio of roasting pans

The interior rivets are flat and set nearly flush to the surface. It’s possible some of them have been replaced over the lifetime of the pans; some of the rivets are fully flat, while others have a flattened dome shape. They all are of a uniform small size, however, so if replacements or repairs have been done, they have been done well.

Set of three graduated roasting pans, “Les trois sœurs”

Someone has cared for these pans: they are not dented, stoved in, nor crushed, which I consider to be excellent physical condition for antique pans less than 2mm thick. The most serious thing I saw in the listing photos below was accumulation of verdigris around the handles — this certainly needs to be cleaned away before the pans are used for cooking. The other issues were cosmetic — they needed a good polishing and a new tin lining.

 

I sent all three to Erik Undiks at Rocky Mountain Retinning for restoration and he did a magnificent job, as you can see in the photo below and throughout this post.

Set of three graduated roasting pans, “Les trois sœurs”

I wish I knew who made these pans. The information wouldn’t alter my appreciation of them, but I am curious who was making pieces with these beautiful and distinctive handles. I had never seen an example with a maker’s stamp until reader Stephen Whalen provided photos of a stockpot with a Gaillard stamp; this information only deepens the mystery, however, as I suspect that stockpot — like these pans — was made in the late 19th century while that particular stamp did not come into use until the 20th. I’m looking into that stamp but it’s slow going given the paucity of information I can find online.

But. This site is about my curiosity about antique and vintage copper, but my findings don’t change what these lovely things are. These three sisters have stayed together for a century at least and are just as beautiful and useful today as the day they were made. Whoever made them should be proud; whoever owned them along the way should be praised for keeping them so well. It’s my turn now, and I’m glad to welcome them.

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10 Comments

  1. Hello VFC,

    I’m curious – is there a reason you didn’t link to the seller’s site on Etsy?

    I really enjoy your website – you’ve taught me a lot!

    1. Hey S T! Thanks for your kind words. I’ve had a good experience with this seller so far but I’d like to experience a few more purchases. I’m pretty careful with my seller endorsements and I like to take my time with it.

  2. Hi, I have just been looking at the 36cm saute pan that you posted Dec.2018, bought from Scotland. I think that the BTHS stamp on it is for British Transport Hotels. Crockery similarly marked on the back and cutlery stamped presumably to discourage patrons from liberating items sometimes turns up. There is also a list of these station hotels on Wikipedia and a few were in Scotland. Hope this helps .

    1. Roger, thank you so much for making this connection! I have updated that post accordingly. I am so grateful! And what a nice bit of history. I’m looking over the list of hotels to see if any of them corresponds to another of that pan’s stamps — it has so many! Thank you again!
      ETA: There’s another copper pan with the BTHS stamp and the same large “R” as well. Wonder if that’s some sort of identifier? The “R” doesn’t seem to correspond obviously with a specific BTHS hotel.

  3. Hi, since I posted I have found a video on YouTube, a 1930,s promotional for LSM (London Midland Scottish )hotels pre-nationalisation. Halfway through there is a few seconds showing a chef preparing lunch at a stove covered in copper pans. BTHS was also responsible for on train catering so R could be for Rail?

  4. Roger, it’s not a wild guess at all but a very good one. Thank you for another great find! I’m now trying to find rail schedules to see if the other numbers on the pot could indicate a particular line or route. According to my early look at things, it looks like the British Transport Hotels corporation came into being in 1948 and operated in one form or another until 1984 or so. I’m having trouble tracking down firm dates for the Caledonian Sleeper — I’m swamped with info on the current restored service, but I am still looking for information on a route by this name in the mid-20th century.

    Alternatively, do you think “C.S. B.T.C” could stand for “Central Station”? I ask because I’m seeing vintage postcards for “Central Station Hotel” in Glasgow, for example, and there are other “Station Hotels” in the BTH lists. What do you think?

    1. It’s possible but could be as mundane as Central Stores. It seems unlikely that you can pin this down to a particular establishment with any certainty. The pan is older than the period of nationalisation so was likely owned by any one of the big four railway companies. Britian’s telephone system was state run and instruments were routinely refurbished and reissued with a stenciled mark on the bottom. Government forms, paperclips, pens, paperweights ,hole punches etc. all issued marked HMSO (His/Her Majesty’s Stationery Office)

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