Collecting, cleaning, displaying, researching, and appreciating TRIVETS and related go-withs!
Occasionally you might encounter a trivet with an inscription. The lettering might be located on the front, back, or on the handle. Inscribed trivets like those discussed here were most likely gifts, presented to a war veteran or a member of a fraternal organization.
“Provenance” documents the ownership history of an object by sales receipts, letters from owners, and other records. Other important information such as a trivet’s age, origin, design, composition, and manufacture complete the picture. Without adequate provenance it can be challenging to link a signed trivet to a specific person, place or time.
In May 2014 this handsome bronze trivet was auctioned on eBay with an ending price of $308. Signed ELI R. MANLEY within the lower front panel, it features flowers, leaves and a decorative star handle. The sprue mark on the reverse likely dates this trivet to the mid-1800s. From the eBay auction listing: “This rare trivet measures approx. 9 1/4″ x 5 1/4″ with three 1 3/8″ long feet, weighing approximately 2 pounds.” An unsigned cast iron version appears on p. 117 of A Collector’s Guide To Trivets & Stands (1990), rated Rare.
In January 2019 an identical bronze trivet signed ELI R. MANLEY came up for sale on eBay as a Buy It Now; this time for only $40. Could it possibly be the same trivet? The listing contained some additional information: “A beautiful sand cast Bronze Trivet to commemorate – ELI R. MANLEY – Civil War Veteran in the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois – 2nd Lieutenant promoted to 1st Lieutenant.”
In checking the Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls Database I found two service records for an Eli R. Manley, documenting his promotion. His pre-war occupation was listed as Joiner, a carpenter who specialized in furniture and fittings. To view the service records click the database link, then enter Manley, Eli R (no period after R) in the “Name of Veteran” field.
Do these service records alone prove a direct link to this trivet? No. Unfortunately the seller did not provide any other provenance, such family records, to validate the connection.
PS: Some might wonder if Eli R. Manley and E. R. Manley (the subject of my last blog post) might be the same person. Please Contact Me if you’re aware of other trivets signed Manley or have any information to share.
Here’s another similar bronze trivet, purchased on eBay in August 2018. It shares the same design but is signed I. E. McHATTON. On the reverse there’s backcoping, a small sprue mark, and the letter “H”. Measurements: 9 3/8″ x 5 1/4″ with three 1 3/8″ nail-like legs; the tip of the leg at the apex is broken.
Without further information, searching for the name I. E. McHATTON in censuses, veteran records or obituaries would be inconclusive. So if anyone can provide any additional information on this McHatton signature, please Contact Me.
These two articles by Harry Rinker discuss establishing provenance with antiques and collectibles.
Column 1322: Establishing Antiques & Collectibles Provenance – Part 1
Column 1324: Establishing Antiques & Collectibles Provenance – Part 2