Sharp-eyed reader David A. found it. He emailed me about a listing on Etsy for an unusual 30cm sauté:
Specifically, look at the mark. It appears to be a du Louvre mark overstruck on an Allez Frères mark (most visible by the word “Établissements” and the narrower oval). Do you think that this could indicate that Mauviel produced both lines and that someone made an initial mistake on the mark? The handle and rivets appear to be du Louvre.
David, I think you’re right — the layered stamps on this pan appear to link it to the same maker, Mauviel. Evidence like this doesn’t come along very often so I bought the piece so I could examine it more closely and document it.
Let’s start with a good look at the stamp.
I see three strikes: a double strike of the Grands Magasins du Louvre mark, and also a third faint strike of the Allez Frères mark. Below are two clear examples of each stamp from other pieces of mine.
Allez Frères and Grands Magasins du Louvre (GML) were retail stores in Paris, not coppersmiths. Those marks are store stamps put on by the chaudronnerie that made the pieces. According to Thomas Larham, Mauviel-Gautier Frères (the ancestor of today’s Mauviel) made copper for GML, but up until now I haven’t been able to figure out who made copper for Allez Frères.
But this pan suggests an answer.
|Type||Tin-lined sauté in hammered finish with cast iron handle fastened with three copper rivets|
|French description||Sauteuse étamée et martelée avec queue de fer munie de trois rivets en cuivre|
|Dimensions||30cm diameter by 9.5cm tall (11.8 by 3.7 inches)|
|Thickness||2.2mm at rim|
|Weight||4072g (9 lbs)|
|Stampings||“Grands Magasins du Louvre Paris”; “Établissements Allez Frères Paris”; 30|
|Maker and age estimate||Mauviel-Gautier Frères; between 1887-1908|
This is a really lovely pan. It is between 2 and 2.2mm thick at various points around the rim but it feels bottom-heavy in the hand. My 30cm brass-handled GML sauté has the same dimensions and rim thickness but is 700g lighter; I think that service à table pan is a true 2mm throughout, while this one is fort and thickens to 2.5mm in the base.
It’s in pretty good physical shape. It has been restored and retinned at some point, but not recently — I did not choose to send it for another restoration in order to prevent any further polishing of the stamp, but in truth I don’t think it really needs it. It’s a little bit out of round but the rivets are tight and the iron handle is free of rust and corrosion. The tin inside is darkened and aged but doesn’t have the dusty oxidized look of neglect. To be quite honest, I’d give it a good hot wash with soap and water and consider it fine for cooking.
The handle baseplate is the distinctive GML shape. In the photos below, compare this 30cm sauté to the 22cm GML sauté in the middle and the 22cm Allez Freres sauté on the right. The similarity of the two GML baseplates is immediately obvious. But note also the arrangement of the rivets: the GML baseplates have wide-spread rivets, while the Allez Freres rivets are set in a narrower triangle shape.
The different Allez Frères and GML rivet patterns disprove the competing theory that this was an Allez Frères pan re-made into a GML pan. Swapping out handles would be straightforward were it not for the different arrangement of rivet holes. An Allez Frères pan’s rivet holes would need to be patched and re-drilled for the wider spread of the GML pattern — not an impossible task, of course, but one that would leave undeniable traces. But if you look at the inside of the pan you can see that this is not the case. The two side rivets are cleanly drilled with no patched holes to be seen. My assessment is that no Allez Frères handle was ever attached to this pan.
The conclusion I have drawn is that this pan was shaped and stamped for Allez Frères, but before it was drilled for its handle it was re-purposed into a GML pan. It could have been a mistake: perhaps the workman grabbed the wrong customer stamp, and realizing his error too late, corrected it with a couple of more emphatic GML overstamps. Or it could have been intentional: perhaps the GML order of 30cm sauté pans was one short, and this as-yet-undrilled Allez Frères pan was a hasty substitution.
But both scenarios lead to the same conclusion: the same workshop made pans for both stores, and that workshop was Mauviel-Gautier Frères. I compared the time periods when these stores were selling copper, and the overlap is 1887-1908, which makes sense for the construction I see on this pan.
What do you think? Is this enough evidence to assert that Mauviel supplied both stores? Let me know what you think in the comments. And my thanks again to David!
PS. The GML stamp on this piece is actually a little different from the others I have: it has two little circles on either side of the word “Paris.” I have three other GML pieces with good clear strikes but none of them have these circles; I took a closer look at Thomas’s GML pieces, and it looks like his 12cm and 16cm saucepans also have the circles, but not the others in his collection. Well, now we know there are at least two versions of the GML stamp. Two time periods? Two makers? It would help to have more examples. If you have a GML pan with the stamp with the dots, I’d be grateful if you’d get in touch so we can see if we can figure it out. Thank you!