Painting Plaster Work and the History of Terra Cotta

The 1896 Victorian terracotta Bell Edison Telephone Building – 17 & 19 Newhall Street, Birmingham, England. A grade I listed building designed by Frederick Martin of the firm Martin & Chamberlain. Now offices for firms of architects. Photographed 10 May 2006 by Oosoom

[Reprint from Victoria and Albert Museum included below on Terra Cotta for non-commercial educational purposes.]

Painting on Plaster Work.—Plastering should never be painted until it is thoroughly dry. Portland cement is best left for a year or two before being painted. Plaster work not previously painted will require four or five coats, Portland cement five or six. If plastered work is required to be painted immediately, it should be executed in Keene’s or Parian cement (see Plaster Work). A great deal more paint is of course absorbed by plaster than by wood, just as wood absorbs more than iron.

Blistering and Cracking.—The blistering of painted surfaces may be caused in several ways. If on iron, it may be the result of a particle of rust which, not having been removed in the process of cleaning, has increased in size and loosened the paint. If on plaster, a particle of unslaked lime may have ” blown,” with a similar result. On wood, blistering is usually caused by painting upon a wet surface or upon unseasoned wood.

Blisters may also be caused by the use of too much oil in paint exposed to heat, or the application of one coat upon another before the latter is properly dry. To prevent blistering a method that has been tried with good results is to apply two coats of water paint (washable distemper) and follow by two
coats of oil colour or varnish. Cracking is caused by the use of too much oil in the under coats and too little in the topcoats.

Distemper.—New plaster-work must be quite dry before distemper is applied. The work should be stopped (that is, any irregularities filled up with plaster of Paris mixed with whiting and water to a paste) and then rubbed perfectly smooth with glass paper. Clairecole, a solution of thin size and whiting, is then applied to render the plaster non-absorbent, and this is followed by distemper of the desired colour. Distemper is made by soaking whiting in clean water to a creamy consistency. To this is added size which has been previously warmed, and the pigment required to colour the mixture; the whole is then well stirred and strained to remove any lumps. Many patent wash able distempers under fancy names are now on the market in the form of paste or powder, which simply require to be mixed with water to be ready for use. If applied to woodwork distemper is apt to flake off. The ” one-knot ” brush for cornices and other mouldings and the ” two-knot ” and ” brass-bound ” brushes for flat surfaces are usually employed for distempering and whitewashing. A granular surface is produced by stippling or dabbing the surface with a stiff bristled brush specially made for this purpose.

Gilding, &c.—Very rich effects may be produced both in external and internal decorations by the judicious use of overlays of gold or silver. In their application, however, it must always be borne in mind that they are metals, not paints, and they should only be used in positions such as would be appropriate for the actual metals. ” Dutch metal ” and other imitations cost about one-third of the price of genuine gilding, and require to be protected from oxidization by a coat of lacquer. Gold leaf is affixed with gold size or other adhesive preparations. The best and most durable work is oil gilding, which involves less labour, and results in a richer appearance than other methods. The work is usually primed first of all with a solution of boiled linseed oil and white lead, and then ‘covered with a fine glutinous composition called gold size, on which, when it is nearly dry, the gold leaf is laid in narrow strips with a fine brush, and pressed down with a pad of cotton-wool held in the fingers. As the slips must be made to overlap each other slightly to ensure the complete covering of the whole surface, the loose edges will remain unattached, to be afterwards struck off with a large sable or camel-hair brush. The joints, if the work be skilfully executed, will be invisible. For burnished gilding the work must be covered with various coats of gluten, plaster and bole, which last is mixed with gold size to secure the adhesion of the leaf.

[Reprint from Victoria and Albert Museum included below on Terra Cotta for non-commercial educational purposes.]

Italian Terracotta Sculpture

Relief, probably Lorenzo Ghiberti, 15th century, terracotta, Florence, Italy. Museum no. A.7-2003, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Through their masterful control of material and a superb sense of artistry, Italian sculptors have explored the versatility of terracotta to create some of the most alluring and expressive sculptures in the history of art.

A history of terracotta

‘Modelling in clay is to the sculptor what drawing on paper is to the painter… In the soft clay the genius of the artist is seen in its utmost purity and truth…’

Johann Joachi, Winckelmann, History of Art, 1776

Clay is an inexpensive and abundant material that has been used since ancient times to make bricks, tiles, pottery, and ritual objects. When fired, clay becomes terracotta, or ‘baked earth’.

In the hands of Donatello and his contemporaries in early 15th-century Italy, terracotta became a fundamental medium of artistic expression and creativity, and remained so until the age of Antonio Canova in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Skill in handling clay became a requirement at art academies across Europe; the development of new technologies fed the demand for clay sculpture, and clay models took on a central role in portraiture and relief sculpture. Clay was essential to the creative process of sculpture during this period.

Origins: The Ghiberti-Donatello style

The potential of using clay to reproduce devotional images was first recognised by two of the leading sculptors in early 15th-century Florence. Lorenzo Ghiberti ran a large workshop while making bronze doors for the Florence Baptistery. He trained most of the leading sculptors, and the young Donatello, who became the most influential sculptor of the period, also spent time there. The use of clay was central to the production of bronzes and Ghiberti recognised its versatility. Clay could be moulded to replicate images which were then fired, painted and gilded, providing a cheap alternative to more expensive materials, such as marble and bronze.

The Virgin and Child was a popular theme, which found classic expression in the works of Donatello and Luca della Robbia. Donatello’s interest was in combining different materials, while Luca adapted pottery glazes to produce more durable and vibrant surfaces. This innovative technique was described by the famous painter and biographer, Giorgio Vasari, as ‘a new, useful and most beautiful art’.

Bust of Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici (later Leo X), attributed to Antonio de’Benintendi, about 1512. Museum No. A.29-1982, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Renaissance portrait bust

Portraiture is often seen as the quintessential Renaissance art form, and clay was used increasingly during the 15th century to produce life-like busts. It was an ideal medium to make models for portraits in other materials. Most finished clay portraits would have been painted to appear more realistic, like the extraordinarily vivid likeness of Cardinal Giovanni de’ Medici, the future Pope Leo X, based on a mask taken from life. In other cases, like the rare bust of a Young Man in Armour by Antonio del Pollaiuolo, the clay image was painted to imitate the far more costly material of bronze. Its torso is fashioned with coils of clay, like an earthen jar, demonstrating how pottery techniques were adapted for sculpture. The bust of Tommaso Rangone by Alessandro Vittoria was originally created as the model for a portrait in bronze. It was later gilded to produce a more decorative object for display.

Verrocchio and the terracotta model

Model, Verrocchio, about 1476, terracotta, Florence, Italy. Museum no. 7599-1861, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

By the late 15th century, terracotta models had become an integral part of the sculptor’s production. In Florence, Andrea del Verrocchio ran a large workshop which produced both sculpture and paintings. He made a variety of studies for his works, and raised terracotta to an important art form through projects like the monument to Niccolò Forteguerri in Pistoia. Five artists were invited to submit models in competition for this prestigious commission, and Verrocchio’s terracotta model was declared the winner. It is one of the earliest surviving examples of a sculptor’s model, representing the start of a long tradition which extended well into the 18th century. The Forteguerri relief is a detailed representation of the finished design, but it contains a freshness and lively handling more commonly associated with a sketch. Verrocchio also used draped models to make drawing studies for paintings, which assisted in conveying volume in his painted figures.

Full-scale statuary in clay

Terracotta was often used as a substitute for marble or bronze, especially outside central Italy where there were no available marble quarries. It was a flexible and versatile medium, which could rival painting in its exploitation of colour and movement to create credible figures in the round. Most of these works have been destroyed or remain in their original chapels across northern Italy. The Archangel Gabriel, is a rare example of what had been a common form. Agostino di Duccio, its creator, made a work of exceptional beauty, which would originally have been enhanced by pastel colouring. Traces of the original paint can still be seen. Andrea Riccio’s Virgin and Child is actually a fragment of a full-scale seated statue, which had been cut into sections for firing and then reassembled. Riccio is now best known for his small bronzes, but in his own day he was equally celebrated for his sculpture in clay.

Benedetto da Maiano: The pulpit reliefs for Santa Croce in Florence

Three reliefs, showing scenes from the life and legends of St Francis, were made by the Florentine sculptor, Benedetto da Maiano, in 1481. Together with another panel in Berlin, they represent the only surviving relief cycle in terracotta from the 15th century. They were made as full-scale designs for the reliefs on a marble pulpit commissioned to commemorate the wealthy Florentine banker, Pietro Mellini, who had sat for a portrait bust by Benedetto in 1474. The panels were made within wooden boxes lined with paper. A spatula (a flat modelling tool) was used to create the background and architectural setting for each scene. The high-relief figures were modelled separately and applied to the surface before the reliefs were fired in a kiln. The loss and dark discolouration seen on the Funeral of St Francis occurred during the firing. The reliefs have been mounted to imitate the finished work, and a plaster cast of the pulpit can be seen in the Italian Cast Court (Room 46B) at the V&A.

    

The cult of the model

The sketch model owed its popularity to the preliminary studies by artists such as Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Giambologna, sculptor to the Grand-Dukes of Tuscany. Sculptor’s models were seen to reveal the artist’s initial concept and were prized by both fellow artists and connoisseurs. Giambologna’s models capture the spontaneity of his modelling technique. In the River God it is possible to see the artist’s fingerprints as he gouges and wheedles the clay into shape.

The great master of the clay sketch was Gian Lorenzo Bernini, an outstanding genius who dominated artistic life in 17th-century Rome. Bernini used his models to work out a particular aspect of the design, often leaving the rest of the work unfinished.

A River God, Giovanni Bologna, about 1575. Museum no. 250-1876, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Sketch model of Pope Alexander VII, Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, Italy, 1669-70. Museum no. A.17-1932, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Relief sculpture: From Renaissance to Baroque

Bernini famously said that he wanted to make marble as malleable as wax. But it was his great rival, Alessandro Algardi, who first applied this principle to relief sculpture. Algardi made relief altarpieces fashionable. He exploited the painterly quality of clay and translated it into more permanent marble monuments.

Relief, ‘David Dancing before the Arc’, Alessandro Algardi, Rome, Italy, 1600-1650. Museum no. A.23:1-1959, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Relief, possibly by Donatello, about 1455-60, gilded terracotta. Museum no. 57:1-1867, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Terracotta models of the Baroque: Bernini and Algardi

Terracotta model of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni, Gianlornzo Bernini, Rome, Italy, 1671–4. Museum no. A.93-1980, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The two great artists, Bernini and Algardi, were largely responsible for the significance of the clay model in the 17th century. Bernini made thousands of clay models, and around forty have survived. These remarkable works shed light on the evolution of his ideas. Bernini usually began with a quick pen sketch. He then made several clay models to study the impact of his design in three dimensions. There were a large number of models made in connection with the over-life-size marble Angels for the impressive Roman bridge, the Ponte Sant’Angelo. These were mainly made by Bernini with the collaboration of his large workshop. Most are quick sketches or bozzetti in clay, that demonstrate his endless exploration of subtle variations on a theme – almost like freeze frames in the study of movement. In contrast, Algardi’s models tend to be more finished and reflect a wider range of commissions.

The Baroque portrait bust

Model for a portrait bust of Cosimo III de’ Medici, Giovanni Battista Foggini, Italy, about 1687. Museum no. 6818-1860, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Renaissance concept of the ‘speaking likeness’ was raised to new heights by the Baroque portrait bust. Algardi’s sensitive terracotta bust of Pope Innocent X served as the basis for the pope’s official portraits and was subsequently painted white to imitate marble. A similar recycling of a terracotta model can be seen in Giovan Battista Foggini’s bust of Cosimo III de’ Medici. Two layers of metal leaf and paint have been applied to the surface to simulate the more precious material of bronze.

Models and finished works in the 18th century

During the 18th century, terracotta was valued as much for its decorative qualities as for its practical uses. Famous sculptures, such as Filippo Della Valle’s allegorical figure of Temperance, were replicated and sold in small, terracotta versions as souvenirs of the Grand Tour. A work like Agostino Cornacchini’s Sleeping Endymion went straight into a collector’s cabinet with bronze and even porcelain copies made from it. The distinguished marble sculptor, Giuseppe Sanmartino, for example, delighted in the expressive qualities of painted terracotta for use in minor works such as the famous Neapolitan nativity scenes. These often contained a vast number of figures that rival the delicacy of porcelain figurines.

Canova

Like Michelangelo and Bernini before him, Antonio Canova dominated the artistic scene of his day. Our perception of his art is based upon the miraculous perfection of his finished marbles, but his initial ideas were worked out in clay. Small sketches, such as the Venus and Adonis or Cupid and Psyche, have an extraordinary power and vitality which echoes the Neo-classical pronouncement: ‘ Conceive with fire and execute with phlegm’. The evolution of Canova’s design for the Penitent Magdalen can be traced from a tiny pencil sketch and a clay model to the finished marble. Towards the end of his career, Canova preferred not to fire his clay models, but made plaster casts from them instead. This allowed him to make copies with the freshness of the clay model but the model was destroyed in the process. Canova’s use of plaster heralded the end of the great tradition of terracotta in Italian sculpture.

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———-

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WIPO HQ Geneva

UNITED STATES PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION ACT

TITLE I – PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION OFFICE Chapter Section 1. Organization and Publications . 1 2. Legal Provisions as to the Plant Variety Protection Office . 21 3. Plant Variety Protection Fees . 31

CHAPTER 1.-ORGANIZATION AND PUBLICATIONS Section [...] Read more →

Classic Restoration of a Spring Tied Upholstered Chair

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This video by AT Restoration is the best hands on video I have run across on the basics of classic upholstery. Watch a master at work. Simply amazing.

Tools:

Round needles: https://amzn.to/2S9IhrP Double pointed hand needle: https://amzn.to/3bDmWPp Hand tools: https://amzn.to/2Rytirc Staple gun (for beginner): https://amzn.to/2JZs3x1 Compressor [...] Read more →

Clover Wine

Add 3 quarts clover blossoms* to 4 quarts of boiling water removed from heat at point of boil. Let stand for three days. At the end of the third day, drain the juice into another container leaving the blossoms. Add three quarts of fresh water and the peel of one lemon to the blossoms [...] Read more →

Guaranteed 6% Dividend for Life. Any takers?

Any prudent investor would jump at the chance to receive a guaranteed 6% dividend for life. So how does one get in on this action?

The fact of the matter is…YOU can’t…That is unless you are a shareholder of one of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks and the banks under [...] Read more →

Thomas Jefferson Correspondence – On Seed Saving and Sharing

The following are transcripts of two letters written by the Founding Father Thomas Jefferson on the subject of seed saving.

“November 27, 1818. Monticello. Thomas Jefferson to Henry E. Watkins, transmitting succory seed and outlining the culture of succory.” [Transcript] Thomas Jefferson Correspondence Collection Collection 89

Ought King Leopold to be Hanged?

King Leopold Butcher of the Congo

For the somewhat startling suggestion in the heading of this interview, the missionary interviewed is in no way responsible. The credit of it, or, if you like, the discredit, belongs entirely to the editor of the Review, who, without dogmatism, wishes to pose the question as [...] Read more →

The Fowling Piece – Part I

THE FOWLING PIECE, from the Shooter’s Guide by B. Thomas – 1811.

I AM perfectly aware that a large volume might be written on this subject; but, as my intention is to give only such information and instruction as is necessary for the sportsman, I shall forbear introducing any extraneous [...] Read more →

Sea and River Fishing

An angler with a costly pole Surmounted with a silver reel, Carven in quaint poetic scroll- Jointed and tipped with finest steel— With yellow flies, Whose scarlet eyes And jasper wings are fair to see, Hies to the stream Whose bubbles beam Down murmuring eddies wild and free. And casts the line with sportsman’s [...] Read more →

Tobacco as Medicine

The first published illustration of Nicotiana tabacum by Pena and De L’Obel, 1570–1571 (shrpium adversana nova: London).

Tobacco can be used for medicinal purposes, however, the ongoing American war on smoking has all but obscured this important aspect of ancient plant.

Tobacco is considered to be an indigenous plant of [...] Read more →

Rendering Amber Clear for Use in Lens-Making for Magnifying Glass

by John Partridge,drawing,1825

From the work of Sir Charles Lock Eastlake entitled Materials for a history of oil painting, (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1846), we learn the following:

The effect of oil at certain temperatures, in penetrating “the minute pores of the amber” (as Hoffman elsewhere writes), is still more [...] Read more →

Books of Use to the International Art Collector

Hebborn Piranesi

Before meeting with an untimely death at the hand of an unknown assassin in Rome on January 11th, 1996, master forger Eric Hebborn put down on paper a wealth of knowledge about the art of forgery. In a book published posthumously in 1997, titled The Art Forger’s Handbook, Hebborn suggests [...] Read more →

Chronological Catalog of Recorded Lunar Events

In July of 1968, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA), published NASA Technical Report TR R-277 titled Chronological Catalog of Recorded Lunar Events.

The catalog begins with the first entry dated November 26th, 1540 at ∼05h 00m:

Feature: Region of Calippus2 Description: Starlike appearance on dark side Observer: Observers at Worms Reference: [...] Read more →

Why Beauty Matters

Roger Scruton by Peter Helm

This is one of those videos that the so-called intellectual left would rather not be seen by the general public as it makes a laughing stock of the idiots running the artworld, a multi-billion dollar business.

https://archive.org/details/why-beauty-matters-roger-scruton

or Click here to watch

[...] Read more →

The Public Attitude Towards Speculation

Reprint from The Pitfalls of Speculation by Thomas Gibson 1906 Ed.

THE PUBLIC ATTITUDE TOWARD SPECULATION

THE public attitude toward speculation is generally hostile. Even those who venture frequently are prone to speak discouragingly of speculative possibilities, and to point warningly to the fact that an [...] Read more →

Watch Fraud on eBay

EBAY’S FRAUD PROBLEM IS GETTING WORSE

EBay has had a problem with fraudulent sellers since its inception back in 1995. Some aspects of the platform have improved with algorithms and automation, but others such as customer service and fraud have gotten worse. Small sellers have definitely been hurt by eBay’s [...] Read more →

Chinese 9 Course Dinner

The following recipes form the most popular items in a nine-course dinner program:

BIRD’S NEST SOUP

Soak one pound bird’s nest in cold water overnight. Drain the cold water and cook in boiling water. Drain again. Do this twice. Clean the bird’s nest. Be sure [...] Read more →

Naval Stores – Distilling Turpentine

Chipping a Turpentine Tree

DISTILLING TURPENTINE One of the Most Important Industries of the State of Georgia Injuring the Magnificent Trees Spirits, Resin, Tar, Pitch, and Crude Turpentine all from the Long Leaved Pine – “Naval Stores” So Called.

Dublin, Ga., May 8. – One of the most important industries [...] Read more →

Chinese Duck Cooking – A Few Recipes

Chen Lin, Water fowl, in Cahill, James. Ge jiang shan se (Hills Beyond a River: Chinese Painting of the Yuan Dynasty, 1279-1368, Taiwan edition). Taipei: Shitou chubanshe fen youxian gongsi, 1994. pl. 4:13, p. 180. Collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei. scroll, light colors on paper, 35.7 x 47.5 cm

 

Cleaner for Gilt Picture Frames

Cleaner for Gilt Frames.

Calcium hypochlorite…………..7 oz. Sodium bicarbonate……………7 oz. Sodium chloride………………. 2 oz. Distilled water…………………12 oz.

 

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Audubon’s Art Method and Techniques

Audubon started to develop a special technique for drawing birds in 1806 a Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. He perfected it during the long river trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans and in New Orleans, 1821.

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Clairvoyance – Methods of Development

CLAIRVOYANCE

by C. W. Leadbeater

Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Pub. House

[1899]

CHAPTER IX – METHODS OF DEVELOPMENT

When a men becomes convinced of the reality of the valuable power of clairvoyance, his first question usually is, “How can [...] Read more →

Indian Modes of Hunting – Musquash

Hudson Bay: Trappers, 1892. N’Talking Musquash.’ Fur Trappers Of The Hudson’S Bay Company Talking By A Fire. Engraving After A Drawing By Frederic Remington, 1892.

Indian Modes of Hunting.

IV.—Musquash.

In Canada and the United States, the killing of the little animal known under the several names of [...] Read more →

Salmon Caviar

Salmon and Sturgeon Caviar – Photo by Thor

Salmon caviar was originated about 1910 by a fisherman in the Maritime Provinces of Siberia, and the preparation is a modification of the sturgeon caviar method (Cobb 1919). Salomon caviar has found a good market in the U.S.S.R. and other European countries where it [...] Read more →

The Field of the Cloth of Gold

Reprint from the Royal Collection Trust Website

The meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I, known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold, took place between 7 to 24 June 1520 in a valley subsequently called the Val d’Or, near Guisnes to the south of Calais. The [...] Read more →

Gout Remedies

Jan Verkolje Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first person to describe gout or uric acid crystals 1679.

For one suffering gout, the following vitamins, herbs, and extracts may be worth looking into:

Vitamin C Folic Acid – Folic Acid is a B vitamin and is also known as B9 – [Known food [...] Read more →

Proper Book Handling and Cleaning

Book Conservators, Mitchell Building, State Library of New South Wales, 29.10.1943, Pix Magazine

The following is taken verbatim from a document that appeared several years ago in the Maine State Archives. It seems to have been removed from their website. I happened to have made a physical copy of it at the [...] Read more →

King Lear

Edwin Austin Abbey. King Lear, Act I, Scene I (Cordelia’s Farewell) The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dates: 1897-1898 Dimensions: Height: 137.8 cm (54.25 in.), Width: 323.2 cm (127.24 in.) Medium: Painting – oil on canvas

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Slaughter in Bombay

From Allen’s Indian Mail, December 3rd, 1851

BOMBAY. MUSULMAN FANATICISM.

On the evening of November 15th, the little village of Mahim was the scene of a murder, perhaps the most determined which has ever stained the annals of Bombay. Three men were massacred in cold blood, in a house used [...] Read more →

Of Decorated Furniture

DECORATED or “sumptuous” furniture is not merely furniture that is expensive to buy, but that which has been elaborated with much thought, knowledge, and skill. Such furniture cannot be cheap, certainly, but the real cost of it is sometimes borne by the artist who produces rather than by the man who may [...] Read more →

Antibiotic Properties of Jungle Soil

If ever it could be said that there is such a thing as miracle healing soil, Ivan Sanderson said it best in his 1965 book entitled Ivan Sanderson’s Book of Great Jungles.

Sanderson grew up with a natural inclination towards adventure and learning. He hailed from Scotland but spent much [...] Read more →

Traditional JuJutsu Health, Strength and Combat Tricks

Jujitsu training 1920 in Japanese agricultural school.

CHAPTER V

THE VALUE OF EVEN TEMPER IN ATHLETICS—SOME OF THE FEATS THAT REQUIRE GOOD NATURE

In the writer’s opinion it becomes necessary to make at this point some suggestions relative to a very important part of the training in jiu-jitsu. [...] Read more →

Shooting in Wet Weather

 

Reprint from The Sportsman’s Cabinet and Town and Country Magazine, Vol I. Dec. 1832, Pg. 94-95

To the Editor of the Cabinet.

SIR,

Possessing that anxious feeling so common among shooters on the near approach of the 12th of August, I honestly confess I was not able [...] Read more →

Birth of United Fruit Company

From Conquest of the Tropics by Frederick Upham Adams

Chapter VI – Birth of the United Fruit Company

Only those who have lived in the tropic and are familiar with the hazards which confront the cultivation and marketing of its fruits can readily understand [...] Read more →

Cup of Tea? To be or not to be

Twinings London – photo by Elisa.rolle

Is the tea in your cup genuine?

The fact is, had one been living in the early 19th Century, one might occasionally encounter a counterfeit cup of tea. Food adulterations to include added poisonings and suspect substitutions were a common problem in Europe at [...] Read more →