From Provence, home of Quimper, comes this beautifully made, rustic pair of bellows. The copper facing on European walnut features a scene of a Breton woman surrounded by leaf motifs, beading and flowers, even a tiny cross. (Can you spot it?) The coppersmithing was done using two techniques: repoussé, which created the raised designs, and chasing, which was used for the indented, sunken parts of the decoration. The copper piece was then wrapped over the top board and finished with a seam down the back. Although the era of Art Nouveau was pretty much over by 1910, we believe this is a country piece made in the 1930's, that still employed many of the "New Art" designs.
The detail on the copper is fascinating. The Provençal woman in her traditional coif (cap) wears a fringed shawl fastened with a brooch and an apron. She is holding what she is about to cook for a meal, possibly a goose? The piece is signed HR at her elbow and stamped "Made in France" into the wood (photograph #7) at the top of the handle on the back.** The black leather strips along the sides, which the red leather bellows are attached with between the wood boards, are studded with brass nailheads with a lovely chased design on them. The bottom board, as usual, was left flat so when hung, it remains flush to the wall. The hole in the back board intakes air when the handles are drawn apart, as well as allowing the bellows to be hung on a nail.
The copper and wood on this piece are both in very good condition, with no cracks or missing pieces and just a bit of verdigris in the crevices of the copper. The black leather side strips are intact and lightly worn. The red leather is worn and missing bits of the surface leather, but is not torn or broken. It measures 14 3/4 inches long, 5 inches wide at the widest point and about 2 inches in depth when not expanded. Weighing 3/4 of a pound, they are easily hung in most places. The piece still puts out a surprising amount of air, so it's useful as well as ornamental. If you love Country French, these bellows are a perfect addition to your décor.
**Given that the "Made in France" mark wasn't in common use until the 1890's, it's obvious items marked that way are not 200 years old, as some listings claim.