Author Topic: Pontil scar and age? Warning: Newbie Question  (Read 1154 times)

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Offline karelm

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Pontil scar and age? Warning: Newbie Question
« on: January 04, 2007, 08:06:26 AM »
Hi,
Is there any relationship between the pontil scar and age of a weight?
For example (and generalizing) could it be said that older weights have a more predominant pontil scar due to lack of technology and tools to get rid of them in those days. OR could it be said that a predominant or unpolished pontil is a sign of modern mass produced weights.  Or is the pontil not really of any relevance in determining age and or quality?
I had a quick look around the board but couldn’t get anything really addressing the issue, except for a reference to the shape of the pontil without any details.
Thanks for the help,
karelm
Karel
"Holy cows make the best steaks"


Offline mjr

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Re: Pontil scar and age? Warning: Newbie Question
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2007, 08:52:06 AM »
There are really 3 options in dealing with a pontil.
 - Leave it untouched
 - Fire polish it (using a flame to melt it so it recedes and smooths out)
 - polish it (with a grinding wheel)
Different makers have different approaches.
For example, Whitefriars (from 1970) always polished it out leaving a distinctive shallow round depression (although some earlier weights are fire polished leaving a smooth ponti mark).  Antique French weights also have a distinctive shallow ground out base.  Caithness weights tend to be polished flat. Chinese weights tend to be ground down flat but unpolished leaving an opaque base.
The pontil is only one of many indicators to the age and source of a weight that may aid in identification (to varying degrees depending on the weight), For some weights, a certain treatment may be expected and this may then corroborate other indicators (shape, colour, canes, weight etc). 
As a learning experience, whenever you see a paperweight, pick it up and see what the base looks like. 
 
Martin


Offline Leni

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Re: Pontil scar and age? Warning: Newbie Question
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2007, 09:18:12 AM »
Chinese weights tend to be ground down flat but unpolished leaving an opaque base. 
This is true of Chinese weights made until very recently.  However, the latest Chinese weights have a flat polished base.  (Also, there are other makers who don't polish the base of their weights smooth - Peter Layton is a famous one I mentioned in an earlier thread!) 

So while the 'opaque base = Chinese' is a good general rule, be aware of exceptions!  (Which, of course, applies to all methods of finishing, just to make life more interesting!  ::) )
Leni


Offline mjr

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Re: Pontil scar and age? Warning: Newbie Question
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2007, 03:50:11 PM »
Hi Leni
I haven't seen any recent chinese so that was newa to me! 
My answer was a very generic one - hence the word "tend" being inserted all over the place with the few examples that I gave.
However additional posts such as yours will help  kerelm appreciate that there are no hard and fast rules about this and what a confusing area it can be

And as this is my first post of 2007, happy new year to all.   
Martin


Offline Frank

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Re: Pontil scar and age? Warning: Newbie Question
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2007, 04:20:53 PM »
More specifically, there is no relation between the pontil scar and age of a weight.

Technology for polishing glass has been available since roman times and possibly earlier. The degree of finishing can be determined by many factors such as: cost, makers taste, effect on appearance, company policy. As the others have said, their can be consistency in any one maker but even that can change from time to time.

The pontil scar is just a feature to aid in identification, it rarely if ever indicates an age or identification on its own.
Frank A.
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Offline KevinH

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Re: Pontil scar and age? Warning: Newbie Question
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2007, 05:17:33 PM »
Although ... if I am shown just the base view of a range of Paul Ysart weights, I could probably say for most, with a fair degree of accuracy, whether they were 1930s, 1930s/40s, 1950s, 1960s or 1970s!!

But that sort of age-related identification is a specialist field (which anyone can learn in time), so it's not really pertinent to the general question of whether a pontil mark, or lack of, can determine age.

It would be good to one day show a few web pages of "typical" base finishing for all sorts of weights, antique to modern. This is something that is so often neglected in the literature yet, as rightly sated by others, the base finish of a weight can be a major clue towards an attribution.
KevinH


Offline karelm

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Re: Pontil scar and age? Warning: Newbie Question
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2007, 06:25:10 PM »
Thanks to all that have made an effort to respond… As a novice I appreciate the help.
I probably should have phrased my question better; but am glad I did not, as I have learned a lot.
So here is the conundrum: I was faced with two weights last week and had a look at their bums and they both had clear pontil scars, no grinding and no polishing only a "snip mark".  As I am on the cusp between eastern and western Europe (Vienna, Austria) my novice readings (mostly on the web) tells me a hundred things and at the same time tells me nothing
So if I like them should I buy them (about $200 for the two) or should I walk away and gain more experience first? ???
Thanks for all the kind assistance!!!
karelm
PS: If anyone is on their way here I have been having a look in the shops and will be happy to give some pointers….although  I was offered a Baccarat Pansy (as at http://www.selman.com/cgi-bin/htmlos.cgi/0039.1.3079116628221278136? Lot 38 and 41) for 4000 Euro today :o
Karel
"Holy cows make the best steaks"


Offline KevinH

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Re: Pontil scar and age? Warning: Newbie Question
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2007, 10:29:12 PM »
Quote
... had a look at their bums ...
:o "Bases", please ... "bases" :) ;D

Quote
As I am on the cusp between eastern and western Europe (Vienna, Austria) my novice readings (mostly on the web) tells me a hundred things and at the same time tells me nothing.
Regardless of location, that's about right for most of us when we first got into collecting paperweights.

But in Austria, you may have a bit of a bigger problem than some of us. As you suggest, being offered a standard ("type III") Baccarat Pansy for €4000 is a bit of a shock. This may equally apply to the two weights you are considering. Without seeing a photo of them, it's not possible to comment on whether $200 is a fair price or not. In Austria you may find a mixture of weights, many being of the "Bohemian Flower" type, but possibly also some very good antique Bohemian millefiori, perhaps unrecognised and therefore at low cost.

If you like the weights, and you feel the $200 is ok, then go for them. It's a good way way to learn.
KevinH


Offline mjr

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Re: Pontil scar and age? Warning: Newbie Question
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2007, 07:21:20 AM »
See if you can sneak a photo of the weights and post it on here for identification
Martin


 

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