TRIVETOLOGY

Collecting, cleaning, displaying, researching, and appreciating TRIVETS and related go-withs!

Reproduction vs Antique

Most collectors are familiar with the most common reproduction trivet designs. But have you discovered the  antique trivets that were their inspiration? In this blog post I compare six trivet designs, contrasting the original antique with its subsequent reproduction.

Introduction

Refer to my blog post Antique trivets for a discussion of casting marks.

I follow the rule set by Kelly & Ellwood in their book Trivets & Stands, 1990, p.97: “Measurements on trivets and stands are from the surface on which they stand to the top of the platform and do not include the rails, guides or posts.”

I didn’t specify leg length on reproduction trivets since this varied over time, sometimes even within the same foundry. Typically feet on repros were 1″ or less to allow for wall display. (I refer to shorter legs as feet.)

Trivet measurements provided in the reference book Trivets & Stands are especially useful, since antique trivets were often used as patterns. Any resulting reproductions would be slightly smaller, due to the shrinkage of molten metal after cooling. Cast iron shrinks 1/8″ (2/16″) per foot; brass and copper shrink 3/16″ per foot. This effect is commonly referred to as One Size Smaller.

See the example below, where an antique nickel-plated cast iron Ober trivet has been placed (face to face) under a 1/8” smaller cast iron reproduction trivet marked WINCHESTER, VA and 43-TRIVET.

(1) Tree of Life, also known as Peacock

Left – Reproduction: Cast iron, 9″ x 4 1/2″ with three feet. Produced by Virginia Metalcrafters (VM). On reverse: stock number 9-9 and the VM Betty Lamp logo. This design was referred to as “Peacock” in the VM catalogs. 

Right – Antique: Brass, 9 3/4″ x 4 7/8″ with three 1 3/4″ legs. Note the large, pronounced sprue mark on center reverse which suggests it was cast in the mid 1800s or earlier. The legs bend slightly inward, not an uncommon finding in an antique brass trivet. Antique brass trivets were generally polished only on the front, amounting for a buildup of dark greenish black verdigris on the reverse.

(2) Old Sturbridge Village

Left – Reproduction: Cast iron, 10 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ with three short feet. Heavy at 1 pound 8 ounces. Produced by Virginia Metalcrafters (VM) for Old Sturbridge Village. On reverse: stock number 5-21 and the OSV and VM Betty Lamp logos.

Virginia Metalcrafters named this design Old Sturbridge Village after the living history museum in Massachusetts. I contacted OSV while writing my 2 trivet books (2004, 2010). They couldn’t provide information on the history of this trivet design since gift shop inventory records from the 1960s-1980s were not available. I’ll contact them again and see if any new information has surfaced.

Right – Antique: Cast iron, 11″ x 4 1/2″ with three 1 3/4″ straight legs. No cracks or other damage. Grainy, sand cast style surface. The reverse is unsigned with a prominent wedge mark. This impressive casting weighs 2 pounds 9 ounces. There is a dark patina overall with light rust on the reverse. The wedge mark suggests an age of mid 1800s or earlier.

(3) 1829

Left – Reproduction: Cast iron, mint condition with a greenish Verdi (verdigris) finish. Measures 11″ x 6 1/4″ with three 1 1/2″ legs. Produced by Virginia Metalcrafters (VM) for Old Sturbridge Village. This reproduction is true to the antique casting in both dimensions and design. On reverse: stock number 5-22 and the OSV and VM Betty Lamp logos. Although also offered in black, the Verdi finish is much less common.

Right – Antique: Cast iron, 11″ x 6 1/4″ with three 1 13/16″ straight legs. No cracks or other damage. On handle: 1829. Unsigned on the reverse with a prominent wedge mark.

(4) Grapes & Scrolls, also known as Grapes

Left – Reproduction: Cast iron, 8″ x 4 1/2″ with four short feet. Produced by Virginia Metalcrafters (VM). On reverse: GRAPE, stock number 9-2 and the VM Betty Lamp logo. 

Right – Antique: Cast iron, 8 3/4″ x 4 5/8″ with three 1 1/8″ legs. Gate mark along edge. Unsigned; backcoping to the reverse.

(4a) Forest City variation

Below – The Forest City Foundry design is an interesting variation of the Grapes & Scrolls design. Front: Cast iron, 8 1/4″ x 5 1/4″ with four 7/8″ feet. Reverse: Forest City Foundry, on reverse: THE FOREST CITY FOUNDRY CO. CLEVELAND and NIAGARA FURNACES

This foundry existed from the late 1890s to the early 1970s. Unfortunately I have not yet found documentation as to when this trivet was produced. My best guess is that the Forest City trivet dates to the 1940s to 1970s. If anyone has any information, please Contact Me.

(5) Urn & Fern, also known as Mask or Doodler’s Dream

Left – Reproduction: Cast iron, 8 1/8″ x 6 1/8″ with four feet. Produced by Virginia Metalcrafters (VM). On reverse: DOODLER’s DREAM, stock number 9-18 and the VM Betty Lamp logo.

Right – Antique: Cast iron, 8 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ with three 1 3/8″ legs.

(6) Lincoln Drape, also known as Grain & Tassel

Left – Reproduction: Cast iron, 8 3/4″ x 5 1/4″ with four feet; made by Emig. On reverse: GRAIN & TASSEL and the stock number T-6 as documented in the 1968 Emig catalog.

Right – Antique: Cast iron, 9 3/8″ x 5 3/4″ with four 1 1/4″ legs.

🔎 This trivet was originally called “Lincoln Drape” because the design replicated the cords and tassels that adorned the assassinated president’s casket cover. 

Related Trivetology blog posts

The original George Washington trivet

George Washington trivet reproductions

The fabulous Fly trivet

MMA Leaf trivet

“Ned the dog” trivet

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