Late 19th Century, Early 20th Century Set of Grotesque Cast Spelter Spill Vases or Match Holders - France
I couldn't pass up these interesting guys! Whether they're musicians, court jesters or both, they are quite eye catching. Spill vases were used in the 19th century to transport flames from the fire to the whatever was being lit by way of a match or other flammable material held in the vase part of the figure. They were generally decorative and kept on the fireplace mantel. Today, they could be used as bud vases or simply interesting decorative figures.
They are marked with L & F and numbered 51 and 52. According to some publications, they are possibly the product of a well known French family of sculptures. L & F pieces are definitively French but the family name attribution (see below) is not definitive. While this family was primarily known for their sculpture, two of the brothers mass produced (for what it was at that time) cast pieces. Additionally, within the family, were other members who copied their own siblings and cousins work.
Both of the hats have a chip from the top, as seen in the last close up pics at right. Due to the shape of the hats, these are not very noticeable flaws and I had to run my finger over the one to be sure it was a chip and not just the design. There are no other flaws to the pieces. I have lightly cleaned them but you could choose to wax them for more of a sheen. Spelter is a zinc alloy and was used from the mid to late 19th century up until the early 20th century for a variety of decorative pieces. Many times it was painted or given a bronze finish. It is a slightly fragile metal that is known to chip, but I think 100 years and only 2 hat chips, is pretty strong and durable by my standards.
They measure 6 1/2" (16.5 cm) tall and 4 5/8" (11.8 cm) in diameter at the base.
You will see these listed at LSF but from what I've read and by my own view, it is L & F. Either way, very little information is available in print or online about this company.
Thanks so much for stopping by and as always, please feel free to contact me with any questions.