Trace Mayer Antiques

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Antique Academy: Anglo Indian Tea Caddy

Trace Talks: Video Series!

We understand that you all can't all make it to the shop to visit,   so we are delighted to bring our talks to you.  We plan to cover antiques and fine art and introduce specific pieces in this 'behind the scenes' tour of the art world.

In our first talk, I'm delighted to introduce you to a piece that I have only seen once before in twenty years, and haven't had the opportunity to handle until now.  This is a rare object made in India under British rule from the 1830's.  Click here to go to the video on our YouTube Channel:

Look for more Trace Talks in the near future on our Blog/ and other Social Media outlets.  If you would like to be added to our mailing list send us a note at

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

From Han to Eternity!

I am frequently amazed with what I find in the houses in Louisville, KY. 
Nicknamed Fred by my oldest, this Han Dynasty Terracotta Horse dates from 200 BC to 200 AD.   It is large example that is four and a half feet tall.  These pieces were traditionally housed in wooden beamed underground chambers, the majority of which collapsed.  For that reason, we expect to see damage.  If the condition of a piece is too good to be true, it often is not to be trusted.  The best diagnostic tool anyone can have is their eyes and gut instincts. 

In Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink, he recounts the perils of relying on technology at the expense of your instincts.  Gladwell details The Getty Museum's purchase of a statue based on scientific results to their detriment.   With that in mind, we still will use the best diagnostic tools at our disposal, but always weigh those results with other analysis.  With this piece we have used two tests.  The first is a TL test (Thermoluminescence).  This we can't illustrate here, but a TL test will measure when the clay was originally fired.  The second test is a good old fashioned X-Ray.  Luckily, in Kentucky there are plenty of Horse Vets with portable X-Ray machines.  Below you will see the results of these X-Rays, detailing where this piece was restored.  Each of the lines in the X-Rays show where the horse was broken and re-assembled. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wax on ... Wax off!

  WAX ON!   Nothing like a Karate Kid reference to get things going. I am excited to show you this.  This is an 18th Century English Elm Cricket Table.  Though I think the table is great- I'm going to address the finish- not the piece.  When we saw the surface for the first time I was really hopeful, but having had my hopes dashed before- I was cautiously optimistic.  You see, when a table has survived this long- many MANY bad things can happen, even with the best of intentions.  I've seen 18th Century pieces refinished, sanded, coated in poly-urethane, shellacked, varnished, lacquered, oiled, and painted to name a few.   The conservation of these surfaces can become a tricky endeavor- and usually requires us to put our best 'chemistry hats' on to discover what lies on top of and imbedded into the grain of the wood.    What we had hoped for came true.  This table had been benignly neglected through the years, so it is the perfect candidate for a good old fashioned coat of wax.  Less is usually more, and this is a great example of just that.  So here you have the before and after pictures from a dry and thirsty surface to one with a single coat of wax.