In prior centuries, broken ceramic articles were not routinely tossed aside. What to do in an age before superglue? Well, metal was routinely used for ceramic repair. A lost handle, the tip of a spout...whatever it was, the tinker took care of it when he did his rounds. Plates were rejoined using metal rivets. You can see many examples of truly innovative repairs on Andrew Baseman's site, Past Imperfect, by clicking here.
One of my many resolutions for 2011 is to be more tolerant of damage to my figures. I am working on it already and own a growing number of figures that I have chosen not to restore. Don't get me wrong: there are times when restoration is a must, and I am very appreciative of the extraordinary expertise of professional restorers. But when it comes to poor restoration I will never be tolerant. In fact, I have become quite adept at stripping it off. A while ago, I got a little figure in a lot at auction. The top of the bocage had been overpainted and looked lumpy. To strip off the old restoration, I applied a coat of stripper. Surprise! The green came away to reveal a perfect little squirrel sitting atop a perfect bocage. No damage at all.
About 20 years ago I knew dealers who owned an impressive Toby jug. It was a highly desirable Rodney jug but at some point it had lost its head. Almost certainly in the 1800s, somebody thought enough of that jug to have an outstanding replica of the head made in bell metal. Fast forward to the 1980s, and the dealers thought better. They had a replacement head made by casting off a similar jug in the Brighton Museum. "Metal Micky", as they called their jug, had a new ceramic head. It was a very perfect head but each time I looked at it, it looked a little less in keeping with the body. Too much plastic surgery, if you get my drift. After about a decade, I thought the head had yellowed. Perhaps they did too. Anyway, the jug was sold to a US dealer. I was talking to him about it last year, and he had no idea that the jug had once had a metal head. "Metal Micky"--an object that was uniquely beautiful and touching in that it manifested the thoughtful care that had been bestowed upon a beloved object--had just become a second-rate jug with a restored head!
In 2011, think before you demand perfection from your pots. Their scrapes and bruises are integral to the stories they tell.