This is one of the first pieces Dehillerin ever made.
|Type||Tin-lined Windsor with iron handle fastened with three copper rivets|
|French description||Sauteuse évasée étamée et martelée avec queue fer munie de trois rivets en cuivre|
|Dimensions||23cm diameter by 8.5cm tall (9.1 by 3.3 inches)|
|Thickness||2mm at rim, thicker in base|
|Weight||3028g (6.7 lbs)|
|Stampings||E. DEHILLERIN 1 RUE MONTMARTRE|
|Maker and age estimate||Dehillerin; 1885-1890, maybe a little later|
|Source||Southwest Hand Tinning|
To launch his copper cookware business in Paris, young Eugène de Hillerin did what many an enterprising chaudronnier had done before him: he bought an existing business to serve as the foundation for his own. In 1885 he purchased the chaudronnerie Lagaldie Frères, which had closed its doors at 1 Rue Montmartre in 1882. As part of Lagaldie’s fonds de commerce (a French legal term that encompasses a company’s name, premises, stock, customer lists, and “goodwill”), Eugène acquired an instant lineage back to 1820. He stamped his copper with the 1 Rue Montmartre address from 1885 until he shifted his business to his eponymous kitchenware store at 18 Rue Coquillière, opened in 1890 and still family-run to this day.
I think this pan was made during that narrow window of time, and it’s a beauty.
It is a sauteuse évasée, a shape also called a Windsor (for reasons as yet unknown to me), a flared pan designed for reducing sauces. But the sides is this pan have a steep slope for a Windsor, steeper than Jules Gaillard évasées from the 1890s (see this one or this one); it reminds me more of Matt M.’s earlier dovetailed évasée, tentatively dated to 1850-1880.
To me what is truly special about this piece is the beveling around the base. After some time studying French copper, I am learning that beveled planes around the base of a pot are an “at a glance” indicator of age and quality. Bevels were added around the base of a pan to confer additional beneficial work-hardening to the copper in this vulnerable spot, but it’s a time-consuming manufacturing step. Many 19th-century pans have bevels but the practice seems to have fallen away by WWII. So when I see beveled planes around the base of a pan, especially if there is more than one facet, my immediate assumption is that I’m looking at a high-quality piece.
This pan has five beveled planes between the base and sidewalls, more than I’ve ever seen on a pan.
It’s just a beautiful piece. It’s 2mm at the rim but quite bottom-heavy and likely thicker in the lower sidewalls and base. At 23cm and 3028g, it weighs a good 500g more than my 22cm that is 3.2mm at the rim. Perhaps that thick base gave the craftsman the surface area to lay down five bevels.
It has “the dot,” a small divot in the geometric center of the floor of the pan. I believe this mark was left by the smith’s compass as he drew a circle in a sheet of copper to cut for the pan, and I associate it with hand-craftsmanship. Hand-cutting was replaced by machine presses with dies that produced perfect shapes.
The inside rivets are flattened but not flush to the inner surface. Notice that the rivets each have a small number 6 on them. This is further evidence contradicting my theory that numbered rivets are 20th-century artifacts. Rivet-making machines were invented in the mid-19th century, but I had thought that it took several decades for mass-produced rivets to make their way into the French cookware industry. But this is clearly a 19th-century piece with mass-produced rivets — the 6 is a size indicator — which suggests that at least some Paris-based makers had adopted machine-made rivets by the 1880s.
Of course they could be replacement rivets, but I’m increasingly convinced that’s not the case. Consider this: some of my (presumed) pre-Dehillerin Lagaldie Frères pieces also have numbered rivets, as does this “Dehillerin Successeur Lagaldie” stewpot (likely made immediately after Eugène acquired Lagaldie), and now this Dehillerin-post-Lagaldie pan has them as well. Could Lagaldie have been an early adopter of machine-made rivets, and this practice conveyed along with the rest of the fonds de commerce when Eugène bought it in 1885? I consider the question of how to distinguish Dehillerin-made pieces from Dehillerin-stamped pieces to be one of the great as-yet-unsolved mysteries of antique copper — could numbered rivets be a signature of early Dehillerin production? I’m going to have to go look at some pieces once I’m done with this post.
The external rivets are small and rounded. The handle is cast iron with a slight casting defect on the neck of the handle.
The handle is otherwise very well made. It has been filed or ground on the surface at a consistent angle to produce an attractive uniform finish. The top plane of the handle is flat but the underside is curved to produce a pleasingly ergonomic feeling in the hand. (It was reader Matt M. who first drew my attention to this type of handle contour on his 1850-1880 dovetailed Windsor and his other J. Gaillard pieces.)
I am really pleased with this pan. It comes to me from Val Maguire at Southwest Hand Tinning; in addition to restoring pieces, Val offers a select few for sale that she has expertly restored. This pan is testimony to her eye for quality copper.
I checked my early Dehillerin pieces and the 18cm soup pot (showcased on your site) appears to have the number 3 stamped on the rivets.
Well well well! Isn’t THAT interesting. I’m going to take down my Dehillerin pieces and see if I can find more numbers. Thank you for checking!
It’s great to get to know this early work of Dehillerin.
This pan is exceptional for its rarity, age, and quality! What a beauty, VFC! The beveled planes are also really fantastic. They are definitely a defining characteristic of this piece!
It is not unusual for an ordinary pre-1900 saucepan to have a very slight outward flare to the sides, could it be that Windsor shape gradually evolved as chefs discovered the advantage of sloping sides and began to request that the walls open out a little more. Missing link transitional piece?
Roger, that’s an interesting possibility. I wonder when the flared shape was “invented” — was it an accident or an adaptation? I have my copy of “Les cuivres de cuisine” but Renard doesn’t have much to say about this shape. I’ll start looking through the old cookbooks to see if I can spot the first appearance. And if anyone knows where the term “Windsor” came from I’d be grateful for the tip!
This style of manufacture seems to be one of his early traits as my early Pommes Anna has 4 bevels between the base and side walls.
Windsor is I think only an English language term and not one the French use. In 1917 decreed that the royal family of England would become the house of Windsor, this was to distance the family from German ancestry which was problematic during the war.
By the 1920,s Brown Windsor soup was well known and seems to have been a poor form of potage a la Windsor which was apparently a favourite of the Royal family.
Could it be that these reduction pans became linked to the production of this once fashionable soup. Pure speculation but the times are about right.
Roger, I replied to Martin on this as well — a professional research librarian was unable to find an answer either!
The Brown Windsor soup, which consisted of a variety of cuts of meat and vegetables, was simmered for 1-2 hours like other similar soups. I have no idea whether this soup was made in a Windsor pan in early 1900’s, I myself would simmer this and every soup in a tall, slim soup pot (bain à potage) or in a stockpot. Windsor pans are ideal for quickly reducing sauces (with the risk of the contents sticking (baking) to the sloping walls). When simmering soups, however, as little liquid as possible should evaporate. If you prefer a thicker consistency to a soup, you either use less liquid (broth) from the start, push the lid on the pot a little to one side or simmer without the lid.
Apart from that, some dishes can be prepared in different pans if you know the properties of the pans well. So you can of course make a soup in a stew pan or in a larger sauce pan.
Martin, believe it or not I asked a librarian at the U.S. Library of Congress to help find the origin of the term “Windsor” for this pan, and after several weeks she also came up empty-handed. (She did note that due to the pandemic she is limited to online research, though she does have access to professional book catalogs and the like.) My current idea is to review early 20th century cookbooks to see if I can catch the first instance of its use, just to narrow down the timeframe. The search continues!
Wow, still a very good idea! Unfortunately, Google & Co do not have our intentions: I have the impression that the tsunami of purchase offers on sites is getting more and more violent. If you don’t know any specific addresses that will direct the search in the right direction from the outset or if you are not very clever with the search terms, you will hardly find what you want. When I was still working, I had a subscription to access a university library. It is a shame that there is nothing comparable for online research on cultural goods. On the other hand, our somewhat adventurous search is also fun.
A strong possibility is that Windsor is a corruption of a probably French word or expression that was not understood by English speaking kitchen workers.
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