The stamps on these pieces are from two stores in Paris at the turn of the 20th century.
|Type||Two tin-lined sauté pans in hammered finish with cast iron handles fastened with three copper rivets|
|French description||Deux sauteuses étamées et martelées avec queue en fer munie de trois rivets en cuivre|
|Dimensions||18cm diameter by 5.5cm tall (7.1 by 2.2 inches)||28cm diameter by 8cm tall (11 by 3.1 inches)|
|Thickness||2.3mm at rim||2.8mm at rim|
|Weight||1544g (3.4 lbs)||4620g (10.2 lbs)|
|Stampings||Tisser 90 Rue Rivoli Paris; 18||Emile Duval 86, avenue Malakoff Paris; GUIBON D ∗ F; 28|
|Maker and age estimate||Unknown; 1900-1910?||Unknown; 1907-WWI|
I’m perpetually on the lookout for copper stamps because there is always something to learn from them. These two pieces lead me to research two stores in Paris that sold kitchenware in the first years of the 20th century.
18cm sauté for Tissier
One of the tricks that French copper likes to play on you is that it’s so beautifully proportioned that you can’t always sense how large (or small) a piece actually is just from a photo. This pan is 18cm (7.1 inches) across and I suspect it was made for the home cook and not as a restaurant piece. But it is substantial for its size. It measures 2.3mm at the rim, but at 1544g, it weighs just 120g less than my 3mm reference sauté of the same diameter. I suspect this sauté is thicker in the base than in the sidewall that I measured, and that is a great thing. The floor of the pan is where heat enters the pan and also where the food rests, and this is the area of the copper that does the most work to spread and even out the heat from the hob below — especially for a dry-cooking pan like a sauté. This is why I advise you to assess not only the sidewall measurement of an antique pan but also its weight: there could be extra copper in the base that is hard to detect just from photos and dimensions. When you find a bottom-heavy piece, consider that it will likely perform like a thicker piece than its sidewall measurement suggests, and the thinner sides mean that the pan delivers that performance while reducing the overall weight of the piece.
This is a well-made little pan. The cast iron handle is shaped in the classic French lozenge style. The exterior rivet heads are smooth round buttons; I think this must be the original finishing, and these rivets have not been hammered since manufacture. The inside rivet heads are flattened flush to the inside surface. I looked carefully but did not see any evidence of numbers on the interior rivet heads.
The handle is cast iron. It has undergone some deterioration — you can see pitting on the surface of the iron.
The floor of the piece is perfectly flat. I looked carefully but did not see evidence of a dot. The edges of the base have been beveled with three planes, a sign of quality in the manufacture.
This sauté was restored by Erik Undiks at Rocky Mountain Retinning and he did a lovely job with it. Here are before and after photos. The exterior of the pot was in pretty good shape, but it needed new tin. The handle also benefited from a thorough cleaning to get rid of the rust in the pits.
The stamp on this piece reads “Tissier 90, Rue Rivoli Paris”. Tissier is a very old name in Paris but not for copper. I believe this is Louis Paul Tissier, négociant industriel (industrial supplier) born October 1861 in Paris. He would have been just about 20 years old in 1880 when he opened a shop at 15 Champollion, fabricant d’instruments de physique en verre — a maker of medical instruments in glass. In 1885 he had joined forces with Bertin, graveur sur cristaux (engraver on crystal) to form Bertin-Tissier et Compagnie, verrerie, porcelaines, et cristaux (glassware, porcelain, and crystal) at 90 Rue Rivoli. The company continued to expand, and by 1890, the names Acloque, Vimeux, Collin, and Bertin-Tissier had all been rolled into Tissier. The 90 Rue Rivoli address was the business’s storefront and the firm had a factory at 204 Faubourg Saint-Denis.
The company was listed as Tissier as late as 1925, but by 1931 the firm was Etablissments Tissier, an incorporated company, which suggests that the founder had passed away. (Indeed I also see in 1931 an address for Tissier veuve — widow — living at a different address.)
My conclusion is that Tissier did not make copper, but resold copper cookware under its own stamp alongside its glass and porcelain housewares. The company was in operation for at least forty years from 1890 to the 1930s and I’m not sure how to narrow the time window. If prompted I would guess this is a 1900-1910s piece.
28cm sauté for Émile Duval
This is exactly the kind of piece I would recommend to get started with cooking on antique French copper. It is the perfect size for a home cook: 28cm (about 11 inches) in diameter, enough space for proteins and vegetables for four people (or fewer). I also recommend at least 2.5mm of copper thickness and this piece measures 2.8mm at the rim. This is, in my opinion, the size and shape of shallow pan that can do the most in the kitchen.
But there is one unusual thing about this piece that bears examination: this pan has been fitted with a cast-iron handle proportioned for a much heavier piece. The baseplate is massive: it appears to span more surface area than handles on similar-sized pieces and is also thicker in profile. It resembles the bulbous handles I see on my restaurant-size sautés, scaled to brace against the levering force imposed by 15 pounds or more of metal in the body of the pan.
This chonky handle is a mixed blessing because of its weight. This pan is 4620g (just over 10 pounds), and that’s a lot of mass for a home cook to sling around. The argument I make to justify this is that the extra copper in a heavyweight pan delivers better heat management qualities that make cooking more predictable and enjoyable (at least, that’s what it does for me). But in the case of this specific pan, I suspect a fair portion of that 10 pounds of weight is sitting in that iron handle where it doesn’t do much good for cooking. Now, don’t get me wrong: at 2.8mm of thickness, this is a fine piece of copper cookware — there is plenty to do the work. But if I were debating which 10-pound pan to haul out of the cabinet on a nightly basis, I’d choose thicker copper over a heavier handle any day of the week.
But there’s also the blessing part: this handle is a beautiful piece of metal. It’s one of those cast handles that is so finely done that it’s easy to mistake it for wrought. The surface is lightly scored with file marks that could be mistaken for the slag lines in wrought iron, but they are a surface effect and not the innate texture of the metal. Look particularly at the area where the handle shaft rises away from the baseplate — this is where a wrought handle is stretched the most and where the striation lines would show most clearly. Here, on this cast handle, that area is a smooth, untroubled expanse of gleam.
The interior rivets are compressed mushroom heads. I also believe I see traces of numbers on the rivet heads. I think these were mass-produced rivets with size indicators. The cast handle already puts this piece the late-19th-to-early-20th-century timeframe in my opinion, and the numbered rivets support that conjecture.
The base of the piece gives a few more clues. I don’t see a dot, which suggests to me that the copper was machine cut. But I do see three planes of hand-applied beveling around the edge of the base. This is a moment in time of copper production when machine-powered tools were supplanting the more laborious elements of hand-craftsmanship, but the finishing touches remained.
This piece was restored for me by Val Maguire at Southwest Hand Tinning, and she thoughtfully provided before and after photos of her work. She did a beautiful job to clean the pan thoroughly inside and out while preserving its character, and gave the pan a mirror-bright lining — truly the sign of a skilled tinner. Thank you Val!
About Émile Duval
The stamp on this piece reads “Emile Duval 86 Avenue de Malakoff, Paris” and I thought for sure it was related to the chaudronnerie Duval at 2 Rue Miromesnil. You may recognize that rue Miromesnil address: Alfred Duval operated it from 1885 until his death in 1894, and then Paul Legry bought the business and it became the foundation for thirty more years of copper production under the Legry mark. Pieces with a Duval stamp are hard to find — I only have one, a lovely 40cm daubière. I thought perhaps Émile was an offshoot of Alfred, possibly a son or nephew who picked up the family craft after Alfred’s death.
But that does not seem to be the case. My research shows that Émile Duval opened a store on Avenue de Malakoff selling articles de cuisine in 1907, more than a decade after Alfred Duval’s death. As far as my research can tell, this was not a chaudronnerie; there was no pre-existing manufacturing at that address, and the business is described as a retail enterprise. I also can’t find a family connection to Alfred. The name Duval is a relatively common one in France, and it may well be coincidence that more than one person with this last name was in the kitchenwares business.
The store at 86 Avenue de Malakoff is listed until 1914, but the commercial records I can consult have a gap from 1915 to 1920 (perhaps for understandable reasons). The next issue I can find is in 1921 and the store is no longer listed. There are instead two Duvals in the cookware business: E. Duval, chaudronnier, at 4 rue Mesnil (not Miromesnil!), and F. Duval, articles de ménage, at 133 Boulevard de l’Hôpital. I cannot establish a connection between either of these persons to the Émile of Avenue de Malakoff. But for the purposes of estimating the age for this piece of mine, that question is moot: the Avenue de Malakoff stamp sets a time window from 1907 to sometime around World War I.
But the Duval stamp is not the only interesting mark on this piece. In addition to the Emile Duval stamp, there are two others: GUIBON (repeated twice) and D∗F. The DF is clearly an untraceable owner’s mark — two stamped letters applied somewhat amateurishly — but the word Guibon is more intriguing. What sort of person or entity has a pre-made copper stamp lying around? I am inclined to think “Guibon” refers to a hotel, restaurant, or even a prominent chef who owned enough copper to have a need to label it. But who? The only Guibon I could find in the hospitality industry in Paris is too early: Léonce-Frédéric Guibon was the proprietor of the Cafe du Cirque at 2 Boulevard du Temple, but the height of this cafe’s history was in the 1860s. Did Léonce-Frédéric continue on in the business for another forty years? It seems doubtful — his estate was liquidated in 1901, six years before Emile Duval opened his store.
A little further afield, in Bordeaux, is a wine named for Chateau Guibon. But as far as I can tell this is a small wine-producing property and does not seem to be the sort of grand establishment that would commission a copper stamp of its own.
What are your thoughts? I know there are some clever researchers in this site’s readership — any ideas?