This may be one of my less rational acquisitions.
|Type||Fitted lid forming a roasting pan with two brass handles fastened with three copper rivets|
|French description||Couvercle emboîtant formant plaque à rôtir avec poignées en laiton munies de trois rivets en cuivre|
|Dimensions||55cm long by 28cm wide by 4.5cm tall (21.7 by 11 by 1.8 inches)|
|Weight||5140g (11.3 lbs)|
|Stampings||Jules Gaillard 81 Faubg St Denis Paris|
|Maker and age estimate||Gaillard; 1890s-1900s|
If the proportions of this roasting pan look a little off to you, you are not wrong. It is not a proper roasting pan but instead the lid to a daubière, the style with a flat top and side-mounted handles. This type was offered alongside the conventional top-handled version, and the lid was deliberately advertised as a plaque à rôtir. You can see both kinds offered in the 1914 and 1956 Gaillard catalogs.
This particular lid was made for a 54cm daubière. That is a pan almost two feet wide. It’s a little hard to judge just how big it must have been, so I set the lid on top of a 40cm (15.7 inch) daubière, the largest size I have.
That’s a big daubière.
This is the moment where I feel compelled to explain why I bought this, and of course it’s sentimentality: this pan is from my favorite maker of copper, Jules Gaillard. My research of the early history of Gaillard suggests that this piece was made by young Jules when he was just an apprentice to the Gaillard family firm. He put out his own shingle (so to speak) for a brief period from about 1890 to 1903 and I have come to see pieces with his name as a sort of secondary line to the primary Gaillard family brand. In 1904 Jules rejoined the main Gaillard line to create J & E Gaillard, and went on to lead the family enterprise into the 1930s. I have come to see him as Gaillard’s guiding hand during the glorious period at the height of the Belle Époque, making copper for the best restaurants and hotels in the world.
I have been lucky enough to pick up a few Jules Gaillard pieces and I see in them the promise of the man who would come to lead the family chaudronnerie through the golden age of antique French copper. If you see the early French makers as artists — as I have come to do — then you may perhaps understand the special allure of Jules’s work. My Jules pieces are heavy for their time, thick in the base, dovetailed, hand-hammered, and fitted with burly handles. Some of them are made from a peculiar copper that picks up an intense surface texture that darkens and tarnishes quickly. But they are beautifully proportioned and carefully finished with great attention to detail: beveled planes, rough edges filed away, graceful curved handles. I do not know how they were perceived in their day but now, more than a century later, they are standouts for their beauty and durability.
I love all my copper but I love my Jules pieces in particular.
And so now I have this lid without its pan. It was designed to function independently of the daubière but I have to admit it seems a little forlorn without it. What shall I do with it? It is so large that it will not fit in my oven.
It could serve as a sort of plancha, I suppose. It easily spans two burners.
Ah, perhaps this is the way.
We shall see. You never know, perhaps some copper scout in France will come across its mate. If you happen to see a 54cm Jules Gaillard daubière looking for its lid, please do let me know.