Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Leather fire buckets

Painted leather antique fire bucket

A spread wing eagle with red, white and blue shield holds a banner in beak “Columbia Eagle Fire Society” with a name that is partially obscured on bottom banner.
Above top banner is “No 2”.
Original leather handle is present.
Impressed mark on each side of seam is not decipherable.
Size: 13” h without handle.
Condition: Breaks in handle, cracks and missing paint. Decoration is still visible.
Sold for 1,000 USD

Antique painted leather fire buckets are more and more valuable each year. Unfortunately, leather is especially vulnerable to the ravages of time, and fire buckets in good conditions are growing rarer.
The good news is that much of the damage a fire buckets endures can be restored with expert care and dedication to historic authenticity. Whether your fire bucket has lost its handle, developed a hole or suffered considerable paint loss, our restoration studio can bring new life and value to your bucket.

American fire buckets from 17th century usually had the owners names painted on them. Laws often required residents to purchase them and keep them in repair (the law is pretty the same nowadays).  In the 1680s, in New York, the number of buckets a home or business needed was determined by the risk of fire. A baker must have three buckets and a brewer had to have six buckets on hand in case of fire. “Bucket Brigades” were used commonly which consisted of 2 lines of people stretching from the town well to the fire. They passed buckets of water to the fire, and empty buckets back to the well to be refilled.

Steven Lalioff, a leatherworker who specializes in historical restoration, has devoted a large part of his career to painstakingly recreating the leather buckets commonly used to fight fires from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. These buckets weren't merely tools to be shoved into the corner until disaster broke out. They were living pieces of folk art, etched with family crests, Latin mottoes, faces, or inscriptions about the public good. They were made by hand, usually by families, and passed down from generation to generation. Lalioff for the past 15 years has been the leading restorer and conservator of original antique fire buckets.

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