Bragging About Brass
It is very difficult to find an American home that does not include some piece of bric-a-brac, fixture or item of home decor made from Brass. While the warm golden metal has remained a staple of metal workers of all sorts for centuries, its popularity has risen and fell with the trends of the times. It is enjoying a resurgence in popularity at present, and why not? Gold/Brass colored metals have been hot in 2017. Whether polished to a bright shine, or patinated to a lovely mellow brown, there is a mesmerizing depth and beauty in these metals. As with any decorating trend, it is best not to go overboard, but to use them as accents and statement pieces. While it is true that I am currently enamored with Gold (Weekly Feature #24—All That Glitters (Gold, Gilt, Glitz)) I still use other metals in my decorating. I stuck with brushed nickel and stainless steel in my kitchen, and I am partial to rubbed bronze for light fixtures and other accents. A bit of brass looks good in any room, I think, and adds to rather than detracts from the beauty of these other metals. Though we take the many objects of brass available for granted, it wasn’t always so.
After the Copper Age came the Bronze Age, followed later by the Iron Age. There was no Brass Age. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, while bronze is an alloy of copper and tin. While the manufacture of bronze stretches back into antiquity, it was not as easy to make brass. Only in the last millennium did brass gain recognition as a useful engineering alloy. Up until the 18th century, zinc metal couldn’t be made, (it melts at 420ºC and boils at about 950ºC— below the temperature needed to reduce zinc oxide with charcoal) and without native zinc available, a crucible must be used. The process was painstaking and impractical. From the Middle Ages onward the industry in brass became a very important one, carried out on vast scale with widely differing applications. These applications ranged from the purely decorative, the homely, musical instruments, to weapons and factory parts. Brass has been made into jewelry, dishes, doorknobs, doorknockers, pipes, pots and pans, tools and clocks—and that is just a small sampling.
If you look for them, there are a great many vintage items made of Brass. I am featuring some of the sweet pieces I have recently added to my Etsy Shop this week. If you look closely, you will see that the color and quality of the brass varies from piece to piece. Some I have polished either a little or a lot to reveal the metal’s beauty, while other pieces have been left as is with varying degrees of age and patina evident. All are beautiful in their own right. Enjoy!
All that Brass—And a Bit of Copper
Large Etched Brass Heavy Tea Tray with Handles: Vintage Moroccan Tabletop Tray Marked FES With Eight Pointed Star Motif ~ $92.00
Amazing etched brass tea tray with large and decorative handles from the Middle East. It is 16 inches in diameter and could easily serve as an ornamental table top on a wooden stand or frame (not included). This tray is fairly heavy. Over three pounds without any packaging.
Depth of tray inside lip is about 3/4 inch. The Handles are 6 1/2 inches in width and 1 1/2 inches at highest point. It has been polished but undoubtedly could be more thoroughly cleaned up. There are spots of discoloration and the solder used on the handles is visible around them. Overall, nice vintage condition.
Two small brass hinged cricket boxes. They could be used for spare change, small jewelry or other trinkets, etc.
One box has cross shaped piercings, a top handle and a hasp for a lock. It is casket shaped, and measures 3 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches and is just over 2 inches deep.
The second box is a darker color, has heart motif piercings only on the top and a *Made in India* sticker on the bottom. It is rectangular, 3 inches by 2 1.2 inches and 2 inches deep.
These boxes are both in good vintage condition, no scratches, dents or other obvious flaws. they have not been cleaned or polished but are presented with their natural patina.
Brass *Pocket Change* Trinket Dish : Vintage Catch-All Dish for Change Jewelry Keys Made in India ~ $12.00
Cute dish for change or other small items, made in the 1970s. About 4 inches by 3 inches, imprinted with *Pocket Change* at top and the Initials KA on back (maker?). This retro brass trinket dish still has the *Made in India* sticker on back. Great gift for a man in your life, a groomsman, etc.
Nice condition. I lightly polished and was rewarded with a lovely golden glow. It could be polished more. Some darker spots and slight discoloration that might or might not buff out. Overall, very good vintage piece.
Beautiful brass and copper basket-weave style oval trinket/jewelry/storage box. I am not certain of its origins, but there is some faint lettering etched into the bottom which I think says a name and the word “design” followed by India. Judging by the look and materials, I would believe that it was indeed made in India. The quality marks it as quite vintage.
It is in very good condition. I gave it a light polish, but it could be either polished more, or left to acquire a deeper patina. It is 6 inches long, almost 4 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches deep. A beautiful container for treasures or just out for display.
This heavy etched brass container made in India for World Gift may have been made to hold tobacco or cigarettes, tea, trinkets or other valuables.
It is an exceptionally lovely piece with a leaf and flower pattern on both sides and lid. An attractive finial adorns lid to open.
About 5 inches tall including finial (3 1/2 inches without lid). Three inches diameter at top. Very nice condition.
Brass Double Swan Trinket Vanity Catch-All Dish: Vintage Metal Home Decor Candy/Serving/Catch All Bowl ~ $20.00
Lovely Double Swan dish or bowl, almost organic in it lines and curves. The heads of the two long necked swans meet and overlap to form a handle on the double/divided bowl. There are the remains of a manufacturer’s label on the bottom, but only the word brass is legible.
Patinated to a soft golden glow. I polished lightly. There are some spots of discoloration commensurate with the age of the piece. Six inches or so across the width of the double bowls. Each section is 5 1/2 inches long. Bowl depth is about 1 inch and height at top of handle is about 4 1/2 inches.
Pair of Mid Century Brass Angel Candle Holders: Made in India Heavy Metal Candlesticks With Wings ~ $18.00
Lovely patinated pair of brass candlestick holders. These Mid Century beauties are shaped like angels with cone skirt, wing shaped handles and the candle bowl representing a head. Would be nice in a Christmas vignette or for year round display. Made in India. One of the holders still has the remains of a paper label inside. These come apart and can be reassembled without wings for a more streamlined look.
Overall nice vintage condition. I polished them very lightly, but they could be buffed to a brighter finish. 4 1/4 inches tall. Made for about a 3/4 inch diameter taper. 2 inch wingspan and 1 3/4 inch skirt diameter at bottom.
That’s all for today! Go by O Deer Mercantile Etsy Shop to see lots more vintage treasure. Whether you’re looking for glass, wood, metal or rattan, we’ve got something for most tastes.
Till next time…