Mysteries

Alex’s J de R stockpot

VFC

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Readers, I’d love your help to consider this mystery piece.

VFC says: Reader Alex came across this large stockpot at a brocante in France and reached out to me when he noticed that it has a “J de R” stamp similar to my Rothschild pieces. And yet, the stamping is odd…

I’ll reprint Alex’s email to me, as well as my response at the bottom.


“Condition is best described as ‘neglected’. I think it’s had water standing in it for some time at some point. The base feels thin to tap on it and it is dented and misshapen. (I do wonder how much drum skin acoustics make the base sound thin when tapped).”

“The handles are beautiful but very rusted. They are swing handles with tabs that engage against the copper to hold the handles outward. I’m not sure it would ever be intended to lift it when full. It’s volume is a touch under 100litres and it weighs 25kg by itself. Only 3/4 full it would weigh 100kg.”

 

“As to construction, the base is dovetailed. You might be able to see on the Portrait orientation photo [below], the sidewall dovetail running up behind the right hand fixing plate of the handle. Oddly, there is a second dovetail behind the left hand fixing plate. I can’t see any other vertical dovetails. It’s as if they had a large sheet, that wasn’t quite large enough, so they added in a thin strip.”

“All in, I’m not sure to what extent it is worth attempting to clean and restore it vs leaving it in its current state. I think the base would need cutting out and a new one cutting and brazing in. I’m not even sure if that’s possible.

“Hopefully you can make out the stamp. As I mentioned, it looks like the original stamp was…

• J DE R •
•  I  •

“Some time after, ‘P A R     S   0’ was added. I’m stumped as to the 0. Is it number or letter?”

“It also appears as though someone started to use a punch or pointed hammer to try and obfuscate the stamping at some point, but then gave up when they realised it wasn’t working.

“Anyway. Would love to hear your thoughts on it. No idea when it was made, though I suspect it is old. Do you think it is a Rothschild family piece?

“I would also love to hear your thoughts as to what to do with it. There are decades, if not more, of tarnish and corrosion. Cleaning and polishing that off would be somewhat irreversible and I’m not sure how easily the handles would clean up.”


VFC says: The stamping is consistent with pieces I’ve identified as belonging to the household of Baron James de Rothschild (1792-1868). I think the “PARIS 0” designates the piece for a Rothschild residence and the number zero is likely a kitchen identifier — a location on a shelf, perhaps.

After some consideration and close examination, I have come to agree with you that the J de R with dots was most likely stamped at the same time as the letter I with dots below. But I can’t come up with a solid theory as to why.

I’m starting to think a little more creatively about the origin of this piece. Most significantly, those handles don’t look French to me, but they do seem original to the piece (meaning, I don’t see evidence that the piece was drilled with a hole pattern for conventional French handles). It’s not out of the question that this pot was the work of a lesser-known French maker, and certainly there were 19th century makers working with iron handles on stockpots. But I would expect to see band-style handles — the spade-shaped baseplates and the handgrip design with the brace are like nothing I’ve seen before.

So, what if this piece is not French at all, but instead German? James moved from Frankfurt to Paris in 1812 when he was 19 years old. He lived first at a residence on rue Pelletier (about which I have been unable to find any information) and then in 1818 moved into much grander quarters at 19 rue Laffitte. What if James brought this piece with him from Germany as part of his household, and then it was re-stamped when he moved into his new residence? Another possibility could be his wife: he married his niece Betty in 1924, and she also moved from Frankfurt to Paris to join him. Could she have brought this as part of her marital household?

Mitigating against this, of course, is that James de Rothschild, even at 19 years old in 1812, could well afford to buy all new cookware in Paris. Would he have hauled something so mundane from Germany? And of course the ultimate question — could this piece be that old? Readers, what do you think?

Reader Martin has already engaged in a dialog in the comments on a post about another Rothschild piece — I’d like to invite him and other readers to pick up that thread here with the benefit of these photos and commentary.






30 Comments

  1. Hi, the way the stops on those handles gouge the copper just isn’t right. They look blacksmith made and there is no reason why they should not have been crafted to fit the existing holes. If it is indeed early 19th century then a bale handle is a distinct possibility so perhaps it was updated.

  2. Roger, it’s the baseplates that have got me wondering. It’s certainly possible the handgrip pieces were changed out, but the baseplates are unlike anything else I’ve seen on French work. To my eye they resemble the baseplates on all-copper pieces that I have tentatively identified as Russian!

    1. As Martin has suggested this may not be for cooking (it is thin), so the man who made the attachments may not have been used to making pan handles. That said I have seen spade shaped attachments on bain Marie pans.

  3. The longer I look at this stockpot and its details, the more doubts arise in my mind that it should be an authentic piece from the household of one of the richest men of his time. Well, maybe the pot never served in a kitchen, but performed simpler tasks, for example, as a water barrel in a garden. If (Jules) Gaillard had been the maker, I would expect much higher quality craftsmanship (base, handles, owner’s stamp) and especially a maker’s stamp.

    I had already commented on the handles in the other post. Roger commented in addition. I don’t recall seeing this type of handle on German pots. The closest I can see are slight similarities on pots from Eastern European coppersmiths.

    The stamps: Normally, we expect a modern stamp to have a complete lettering (names, terms, date, etc.). We also see such stamps on numerous old copper pans. Sometimes they are single-line, sometimes multi-line, sometimes linear, sometimes curved, sometimes with, sometimes without border. What I see here on this stockpot are individually impressed letters and possibly a number. No serious stamp maker would arrange letters so irregularly on a stamp that is to be used over and over again. Individual stamping with single letters is also supported by the varying depth of impressions in the copper. We know different depths of stamp impressions, but the gradients are continuous. Sometimes this is caused by the curvature of the side walls or by tilted placement of a stamp, i.e. not parallel to the surface. On pieces from the 19th century, embossments with only 1 or 2 letters or a symbol (crown, rooster) are often found. But coppersmiths of distinction, working for customers with quality demands, set them carefully, almost like the arrangement in a printer’s case.

  4. Martin I think you may be exactly right, the loops look like they have been taken off a trunk and this could well be a water bodge, in which case it would have fitted into a frame with wheels and handles so it could be moved like a wheelbarrow. If the top pieces of the attachments originally joined to form an arch rather than being curled around the swing handles as they are now it would have hung in the frame and been lowered out of it by raising the barrow handles. I have only seen galvanized steel examples intended for watering gardens but tinned copper makes sense for drinking water.

  5. Roger, after my first look at the unusual swing handles, I was looking for an explanation for the strange “spikes”. The photo with the handles folded up gave me the idea that the “spikes” could be some kind of spacers. These spacers allow only a limited angle of the handles and not as usual up to 180 degrees. Large hands, possibly protected with gloves or a towel, would then have more room to grip without coming into contact with the side panel. Just as we know from the usual U-handles. However, the design of these supposed spacers isn’t perfect, as their entire surface doesn’t rest on the side panel when lifted. Rather, it looks like only the tips press on the copper and dent it over time. If, on the other hand, the spacers were to rest over a large area on enlarged mounting plates of the handles, the risk of damage would be eliminated. So I discarded this possibility again.
    Roger, your idea of hanging the container in a rolling cart would make far more sense.

  6. STAMPING: Some time after the introduction of letterpress printing in Europe, it may not have been difficult to obtain individual letters and numbers in any desired typography and use them as stamps. As is known, many pans were stamped with the monograms of the users (chefs, restaurants, “normal” owners) complementary to the stamps of the manufacturers. A variety of typographies were used. Sometimes I had the impression that they took what was available and set the stamp somewhat carelessly. In other cases, a particularly beautiful typography or one that matched the time the pan was made was apparently deliberately chosen and the stamping was done with great care.

  7. Roger, Martin, VFC, thank you for your comments. I’d like to start by adding a few details that were left out of my original email to VFC.

    The reason I originally assumed it to be a stockpot are that it’s dimensions perfectly respect the classical proportions of a stockpot, with both height and diameter of 50cm. Furthermore, it has been fabricated by hand from 2.5mm copper sheet, surely about the thickest that could be worked by hand at the time. The assertion that it wouldn’t be useful as a cooking utensil is, I think, incorrect. In fact, I believe the copper at least would have had to have been made by a skilled copper smith.

    Martin, I had the same thought as you regarding the design of the handles, but first, some comment on their construction from close inspection.

    The plates show no signs of having been « remade » or modified from a previous looped handle. Although heavily rusted, they are very deliberately shaped.

    The axes of the loops are not aligned due to the curvature of the pan, therefore, for the handle to swing correctly, there needs to be some play in the fitting.

    Given that the copper body and the handles would have been made by two different and individually skilled artisans, it is highly probable that they weren’t made on site together. Rather I would think that the handles were commissioned by the copper smith.

    Furthermore, I would think that the swing handle would need to have been fully assembled prior to having been drilled and riveted to the pan body.

    I believe that this is the reason for the perceived imperfect fit.

    I also believe that the design is quite deliberate, to allow 2 kitchen porters to carry the pot when laden, perhaps bearing it at shoulder height, without arms, body etc from coming into contact with the pan. Remember that the pot itself weighs 25kg and has the capability of holding 100kg of liquid.

    From an engineering perspective, the combination of the handle tabs and the 6 rivets per handle very effectively distributed the weight.

    I believe that given the design goal, the choice of forged iron over brass is likely due to materials suitability. Cast brass can be quite brittle so could be more prone to failure under the designed loads, particularly the standoff tabs. Furthermore, given the possible lack of a suitable « off the shelf » brass casting, forging, by its nature, allows for fittings to spec where none may exist.

    It is also quite possible, that over use, the ends of the handle loops may have deformed, causing the tabs to impinge on the pad body more acutely.

    All of this to say, I still believe that this was designed and built as a stockpot, with a number of very deliberate design choices. That’s not to say I’m right of course.

  8. Regarding the stamping, the original stamp of

    • J DE R •
    • I •

    Appears to have been struck much more deliberately, presumably over an anvil at the point of manufacture. Aside from the D being set a touch low, it is well aligned.

    The subsequent addition to make PARIS, was done less precisely, but of course it may not have been the original fabricator who added this stamping.

    After all that, perhaps it was made for to carry water through the gardens. But for the purposes of a thorough exploration, I thought I would add some detail and thoughts.

    To better comprehend the scale of the piece, here it is next to my favourite Gaillard 24cm saucepan…

    https://imgur.com/a/913QmdF

    Incidentally, I now know thanks to Roger that the large oval galvanised steel vessel I picked up at a vide grenier last summer is in fact a water bodge.

  9. I should add as well that while the tabs have indeed dented the copper slightly (not that badly though all things considered – likely due to the thickness of the copper) I would think that an outward set cast brass handle, such as the type normally fitted to a marmite, with the typical arrangement of rivets, would put a far greater stress on the sheet metal and the rivets due to the torque created at the point of fixing when bearing 60kg per handle.

    I would wonder, given the lack of an available brass casting deemed suitable whether they would set out to create a new casting or rather as I suspect, forge a handle of suitable configuration.

  10. Alex, you’re right of course, the proportions fit a stockpot perfectly and 2.5mm copper thickness is probably the maximum you can expect for this size. The weight confirms the use of material. However, you also wrote that the bottom feels thin or sounds thin when tapped. Here, if used on a stove, thicker material would be desirable, as we know for example from Gaillard and Dehillerin. If I remember correctly, the base and sidewall are joined using the classic dovetail technique. Or am I mistaken? This would suggest a manufacture roughly around 1900 and would thus fit the lifetime of the supposed owner Edmond James de Rothschild. I can’t add anything to the handles, especially since the construction and function are best assessed by yourself, Alex.

    I continue to be most concerned about the stamps, the embossing of which I find difficult to reconcile with the quality claims of the House of Baron de Rothschild, especially since I also miss the crown of a Baron. VFC has set a high standard with the release of their Baron de Rothschild pans. I admit to being a wee bit envious here, especially since I also had the opportunity to purchase one of these sauté pans.

    Alex, I would very much prefer to burst into jubilation over your find, as I did after my spontaneous first impressions. I hope other readers can dispel my current skepticism about the provenance.

    1. Hi Martin, thanks again for your input and apologies for not clarifying in my last post. I made best efforts to measure the thickness of the base using the methods prescribed on this site, and it is apparent that the base is indeed made from the same 2-2.5mm thick material. I believe the work hardening from use and a bit of stretching and denting has given the base the tinny rapport that makes it « sound » thin. In fact, the same is true of many of my pans, such as the base sounds thinner than sides. I believe it is a matter of acoustics.

      Otherwise, it is my belief that this pan predates Edmond de Rothschild, and was actually owned/commissioned by his father James. There is nothing in the construction that would make this not possible as far as I know.

      While having been made a Baron in the Holy Roman Empire, he was not recognised as a Baron in France. Similarly, the J de R pans in VFCs collection do not feature a crown. Nor do they feature a makers mark. And in both cases, the individual initials have been stamped rather haphazardly. But we are going back a number of years here.

      Pans made in Edmond’s lifetime, come from a time of great commercial pride for the parisien makers, where the competition and thus the importance of clear branding and Royal/peer patronages were of great commercial importance and I believe this piece predates that.

      1. I have taken a photo and tried to tweak it to more clearly show the dovetails on the side.

        https://imgur.com/a/NCpU7Jm

        To my eye, these show the hallmarks of being hand cut. If i understand correctly, this would put the piece in the earlier rather than later 19th century. This would align with James de Rothschild’s time in Paris.

  11. Alex, an exciting story!
    Now that I have better enlargements of your photos in front of me, I can well understand your reasoning that the I and the dots to the left and right of it were stamped before the additions (PAR S O). Even the best close-up photos don’t offer as good an assessment as the original. But your photo suggests that a small part of the R somewhat covers the left dot (seen from the front). To me, that would be an indication of the later addition of the R. In your photo, the I and dots appear much darker, almost black, compared to the other letters. Is this in the same in the original or was this a lighting effect when the photo was taken? One could interpret the black as a sign of deeper stamping. I can now also see the “botched job” around the J better than before. The conclusions from this, however, remain hypothetical for me.

    If we assume that the original stamp . J de R . and more or less exactly amidst it . I . what does the I indicate? Theoretically, the I could also be read as the Latin numeral 1, which doesn’t help me either. It would be even more complicated if one had to exchange the J for the abbreviation of another given name.
    Now the other readers have to do it! I go swimming.

    1. Alex,
      I am beginning to think that “bodge ” may be a name that is local to south east England, having looked online for images I find them listed only as water barrows.
      Do the two vertical seams match & look like they were made by the same craftsman ? I only ask because it is not unknown for new vessels to be crafted from salvaged copper sheet. I have a lollipop lid with a cramp seam running across it & VFC featured a pan with the stamp upside down. If this pot was made from sheet cut down from say a tank or cistern that could account for the poor quality the stamping and what appear to be reused handles.

      1. Good morning Roger, thank you again for your input.

        I have taken a few additional photos, showing the exact position of the seams, how I believe the pot was designed to be carried and another of the stamp.

        https://imgur.com/a/w6AGOWs

        You can see from the location of the seams that, I believe deliberately, they are placed behind each baseplate such as there is a river on either side of the seam.

        The seams are hand cut and are more alike than dissimilar. In fact, they are both cut on a slight angle rather than cuts at 90° to the seam, with teeth narrower than the spacing between the teeth. They are also mirrored such as the narrower teeth protrude from the smaller piece. The number and position of teeth is also as near to perfectly mirrored as possible given being hand cut.

        You can see in the second picture how I believe the pot would be carried. There would still be more than 50kg per handle so it would require 2 porters to move it around.

        The design of the handle with the tabs locks a projection of 11cm, keeping the porter’s arms away from the pan sides. Furthermore, the handle being not directly connected, would likely be somewhat cooler than the pan itself.

        I’m not sure of an alternative handle configuration that would be better suited to lifting the pan. A bar through a loop over the top from one side to the other would be too high for a porter to bear on his shoulders.

        Finally, another photo of the stamping lit from a different angle. To my eye, aside from the later attempt to deface the J, the original stamping without the PAR S 0 is, with the exception of a slight misplacement of the D, clearly struck and deliberately positioned. I would say it is of no lesser quality than the J DE R stamps in VFC’s collection. I would think that this was applied by the smith that made the pan.

        Back to the handles. The brass handles on VFCs 50cm Gaillard stewpot would seem at first glance to be suitable. However, the weight per handle in this case would be doubled. The torque at the base plate would be phenomenal, especially with the rivets arranged in a line horizontally as they are in that case. Surely that would risk creasing or bending the copper. And assuming this was indeed made for the household of James de Rothschild, quite possibly before the construction of Chateau Rothschild in Paris, this could be 100 years earlier. I haven’t been doing this for long, but I am yet to see cast brass handles on a pot of this vintage, let alone at this scale.

        Suffice it to say, I’m yet to be convinced that the handles on this pot are anything other than the original handles, very deliberately designed to allow it be moved around the kitchen.

  12. Martin, indeed the stamp appears as in my photo. The initials and the I are clearly more deeply struck than the later PAR S 0. I would also argue that the stamps used for the two R’s are not the same. VFC and I did discuss what that could indicate, and fell to the same ideas as you. However, nothing definitive.

    I contacted the Rothschild archive yesterday to enquire about this and if I receive anything useful back, I will of course report their findings.

    Regarding the attempt to obfuscate the initials… I’m aware that many of the contents of château Rothschild were confiscated by the Vichy regime during WWII. Such valuable sources of copper as found in high quality cookware would surely be confiscated for their raw material to fund the war effort. But perhaps there was some looting in the period after the Rothschilds fled to England in 1939, and the Germans installing themselves at the chateau in July 1940. Perhaps that is the source of the examples that turn up now and also why there aren’t more. I imagine a kitchen such as the one at Chateau Rothschild would have quite the batterie.

    Enjoy your swimming.

  13. First of all, I would like to thank Alex for patiently putting up with my occasional skepticism and for always responding to my concerns in a factual and constructive manner.
    After weighing all the pros and cons once again, I now share the opinion of Alex and VFC that the pot is likely to date from the first half of the 19th century and from the household of James de Rothschild. Unfortunately, I cannot contribute anything new to the clarification of the already described mystery of the twice stamped pot and its purpose.
    VFC was certainly not entirely uninvolved in the fact that over the years my demands have steadily increased and almost only pieces from the “Golden Age” found their way into my collection. As a result, I was a little out of touch with the demands and manufacturing methods of the 18th and 19th centuries. But now I remembered again some of the pans that were made in this period and not infrequently came from the palaces of nobles.
    As is well known, manufacturing standards were completely different back then, subsequent modifications were not uncommon and repairs instead of new purchases were a matter of course, if not a necessity. When you then consider how many wars and social upheavals have taken place in Europe over the last 200 years, you have to wonder if any copper pans at all have survived these rigors.
    With this in mind, my understanding grew for the somewhat plain manufacturing (including stamping) and neglected condition of the pot presented here by Alex, which presumably had to survive 3 wars and was exposed to the weather for a long time without protection. I tried to imagine what this huge pot looked like when it was new or what it would look like after a costly but quite feasible restoration. Probably some of my doubts would not have arisen in the first place.

    1. Thanks Martin. At the very least, I’m going to clean up the tarnish and try and clean the rust off the handles. I’ll be sure to take photos. It would be lovely to see it retinned and with a flattened base, but that may have to wait for a professional. To think, it made it through probably a century of abuse in a busy kitchen, evaded the nazis and stood up to decades of exposure, only to be pointed out on top of a wardrobe in a dingy warehouse with an accompanying «  ooh, if you drill a couple of holes in that, it’d look great in the garden »

      1. I’ve given pans with badly rusted handles to a professional for restoration a few times and have been more than amazed at how great the results have been. There is certainly still enough good material under the rust. But you have to be careful not to sand too much off to still get a hint of patina. Great that you have the goal of preserving this pot along with its intended use. Best thing we collectors can do.
        Even if I am not yet completely convinced by the design of the spacer or the complementary support on the handle, but in this I recognize the ideas of safety, comfort and distribution of forces.
        By the way, I found your supplementary photos very helpful. Your “lovers” on the old garden bench I find delicious and it helped me enormously to better imagine the true size of this pot and the proportions also of the details. Without known references, this does not succeed.

  14. I don’t think the piece is industrial, or made for garden work, however it doesn’t seem fit for routine stocks. Having a simmering/boiling pot of that size/magnitude on a stovetop 36” high in a kitchen is unduly awkward.

    I would opine that the piece is a scalding pot for game, birds, and the properly sized shoat.
    It wouldn’t need to be filled to the scuppers, probably was used/heated out of doors on a low grate.

    1. Roger, what an interesting hypothesis, thank you. I agree that as a stockpot, it would be incredibly unwieldy. Perhaps it would be better suited to have a tap for drawing off stock in that case, but there is no evidence of such. I’m not overly familiar with the idea of a scalding pot. Is such a thing a normal piece of equipment amongst the stately homes of history? And would one source such a thing from a kitchen supplier or a some other coppersmith? That would help to explain the handles not otherwise seen on kitchen equipment.

      1. The more that I think about it, the more I believe that you’ve hit the nail on the head. The copper work on the pan, for its supposed age is impressive in scale and quality, but as others pointed out, something about the handles just doesn’t sit right as a high quality kitchen piece as would be expected.

        However, if we look at it as a scalding pot as you describe, many would think it very luxuriously made, where and old bath tub or cast iron cauldron would be more normal. But of course, we’re talking about one of the richest men in the world here, so to have such an expensive and needlessly beautiful interpretation of a scalding pot is hardly surprising.

        Furthermore, it lends credence to the possible change of location evidenced by the updated stamping, if indeed it was a bespoke item. As VFC suggested, it is more likely that a whole new batterie of utensils would simply be picked from a catalogue for the new kitchens at Chateau Rothschild.

        Thank you again for your input. I’m not sure what the others think, but I feel more confident in this identification.

        Kind regards

  15. I like the idea of a pot for scalding game. I imagine a hunting party returning with, for example, partridges, wild ducks or a wild boar. With any poultry, the feathers must be removed before slaughter. These can only be plucked out after a scalding with hot water. In the case of wild boar, the bristles must be removed, and the pig is virtually shaved. Depending on the poultry or game, a temperature of between 60°C and 75°C is required. After plucking or shaving, the animal is still flamed to scorch (singe) the last remnants of feathers or bristles.
    French hunting party: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_G91nZG3io (start at about 10:30)

      1. I am not an expert, I only know this much that opinions differ here (killing the bacteria). The German-language commentary of the video mentions this explicitly. In France, however, this method shown here seems to be at least not uncommon.

        1. May be a linguistic difference. But the scalding happens after slaughter/culling and before butchering. On a commercial scale this would be handled at the abattoir, but assuredly, the animal is dead before being scalded.

  16. Alex
    Some comments and questions –

    I did a ctrl F on the notes listed this far and saw nothing to indicate that the pot was
    ever tinned. Is there evidence of tinning? That might help narrow down it’s use.
    Food preparation (requiring tinning), or water heating, or other.

    In Wikipedia there’s an interesting excerpt regarding a Scalding-house as
    “…the office in a medieval household responsible for scalding the carcasses of animals,
    as well as utensils. It was also the room in which this activity took place. It was headed by
    a scalder. The office was subordinated to the kitchen, and existed as a separate office only
    in larger households. It was closely connected with other offices of the kitchen, such as the
    saucery and the scullery.” This seems to fit the scale of the Rothschild estate(s).

    On self sufficient farms and larger estates (at least with my ancestors – Amish and old New England Yankee), very large pots and calderons (usually brass or cast iron) were used for:
    A. Cooking and food related preparation on a large scale – think apple butter, scrapple
    B. Scalding of hogs and fowl
    C. Rendering of fats
    D. Soap Making
    E. Laundry
    F. Dyeing

    There may have been other uses, but those are the primary ones.
    After that you’re into more specialized or industrial uses.

    In regards to restoration of the iron handles on your piece.
    Avoid heavy mechanical stripping. No emery paper or wire brushes. Soda blasting might be ok,
    but you’d get flash rusting immediately afterwards.
    A number of conservators use a tannic acid solution to convert the rust to ferric tannate,
    which in my experience is black to blue black.
    Here’s a link https://www.canada.ca/en/conservation-institute/services/conservation-preservation-publications/canadian-conservation-institute-notes/tannic-acid-rusted-iron-artifacts.html
    and you can find others in the conservancy field who use it.
    I’ve used pre-mixed ‘Rust Converter’ from auto supply stores which I just apply
    with a bristle brush, and let dry. I’ve used it on cast iron garden urns and statuary
    and had superlative results.

    Other:
    Once scalded, pigs are scraped with ‘hog scrapers’ which look like the bottom of a round candlestick base. This scrapes/pulls rather than cutting the bristles off. You wouldn’t want to eat cracklings from a pig that was merely shaved.

    Finally:
    Does anyone have any other potential household/estate uses for a large pot?

    1. Hi Roger.

      Thank you for another very constructive comment.

      Regarding the interior finish, for what it is worth, I did take a bit of very fine steel wool to a small area of the base, which removed some of the tarnishing to reveal a distinctly silver colour. I’ve just been to have another look and the inside walls are, amongst the patches of verdigris, also similarly silver coloured. There is no evidence of clumping or gathering of tin or droplets around the rivets or the corners around the base. However, I see that most frequently on heavy use culinary pieces that will have been subjected to numerous retinnings. I believe that I am seeing the original tin here, as applied at fabrication.

      To me, this would suggest two things…

      1. It was intended for food preparation.
      2. It’s intended use likely didn’t subject it to heavy wear, such as would necessitate retinning.

      Unless of course, there is any other reason for the silver colouration I am seeing?

      I feel that the size of the piece, the tinned lining, possibly original, and the lack of excessive physical damage to the rim normally seen on cooking pots of this age from cooking utensils, would further support the hypothesis that this could be a scalding pot.

      As you suggest, a household of the scale of the Rothschild estate would almost certainly have a dedicated scalding office, and being the Rothschild estate, it would surely have been equipped with hardware of the highest quality and craftsmanship.

      And thank you for your links and comments on the conservation of the iron handles. A rust converter is a fine idea, one I will surely follow up on.

      Kind regards

    2. Hi Mr. Bowker, the term “shave” I used was not meant literally. Although I watched this procedure a few times as a child and teenager, I don’t remember the exact term for the tool used to remove a pig’s bristles, but it is visible in the video. There are certainly different terms for this tool, and they also differ again from country to country. Translating such terms into English from French or German is difficult.

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