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Wheel Chasers: Historical Paris Street Furniture of the 19th Century.

historical chasse-roues, cast iron ball Paris street furniture and other designs.

Wandering through neighborhoods in Paris, you’ll notice that doorways are often flanked by low structures made either of stone or metal. These guard stones are called chasse-roues (French lit. “wheel chaser“) or bouteroue (“to push the wheel out of the way“). These projecting metal, concrete, or stone exterior architectural elements are usually located at the corner and/or foot of gates, portes-cochères, garage entries, and walls. They function to prevent damage from vehicle tires and wheels. During the period of horse-drawn vehicles, the wheels, including the hub, would protrude beyond the vehicle’s body, and were thus prone to collide with and damage a corner of a building or gate. Chasse-roues were developed as a warning signs: ‘keep back‘, ‘keep your distance’, ‘don’t brush up against me’, and as traffic bollards––or, in the common parlance, ‘traffic cones’ ⚠️😄.  They are a historical item of street furniture and some are still in use today. 1 2 3

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photos: Sylvaine Lang, Moments Parfait blog, Chasse-roues. February 26, 2019

Stone was the favored material for chasse-roues during medieval and Renaissance times but many different cast iron designs were installed during the Haussmannian transformation of Paris. 4 Of the surviving chasse-roues in Paris, many are from that age of economical iron and steel. Cast iron was often preferred because it’s affordablity and versatility. Initially, a pattern or mould of the design––the most expensive part of the process––would be made. Then the molten cast iron would be poured or ‘cast’ into the mould and could take many decorative forms with each subsequent casting being relatively inexpensive to produce. Many ornamental cast-iron pieces from the late 19th and early 20th centuries survive today. These decorative artifacts represent a perfect union of form and function projecting a sense of strength, durabilty and good design.

When automobiles replaced fiacres 5, chasse-roues no longer served their purpose being replaced by objects meant for automobile traffic, such as curbs and guard rails. They were, in fact, undesirable but because they were unusually difficult to remove, most of them were just left in place. Those that remain stand as silent sentinals to earlier traffic on those historic roads. 6

Today these architectural artifacts are treasured for historic reasons and are often protected as part of a city’s cultural heritage.

On one of our recent excursions into Paris, we found a lovely patinaed pair of iron ball, “boule”, chasse-roues which we had electrified and museum-mounted as an impressive pair of table lamps.7 ^jh

Pair Of Iron Ball, "boule", chasse-roues mounted as table lamps, French, circa 1870.
Pair Of Iron Ball, “boule”, chasse-roues mounted as table lamps, French, circa 1870.

Further readings and sources:

Show 7 Footnotes

  1. Moments Parfait, https://www.momentsparfaits.com/blog
  2. The Parisian Fields, Noman Ball, June 2011, https://parisianfields.com/2011/06/26/the-art-of-the-chasse-roue/
  3. Un jour de plus à Parishttps://www.unjourdeplusaparis.com/en/paris-balades/balade-belleville-menilmontant
  4. Haussmann’s renovation of Paris, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haussmann%27s_renovation_of_Paris
  5. A fiacre is a form of hackney coach, a horse-drawn four-wheeled carriage for hire. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiacre_(carriage)
  6. Revolvy : https://www.revolvy.com/page/Guard-stone
  7. Pair of cast iron ball chasse-roues mounted as table lamps, French, Circa 1870 at Garden Court Antiques, https://www.gardencourtantiques.com/shop/pair-of-iron-ball-finials-now-mounted-as-table-lamps-french-circa-1870/
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How Jeremy Irons Rescued and Restored a 15th-Century Irish Castle – Vanity Fair, October 2017

Kilcoe’s main living area, known as the “solar,” showcases art and collectibles acquired by Irons in his travels. Photograph by Simon Upton.

We are absolutely taken by this article by David Kamp for Vanity Fair Magazine and this ambitious restoration project undertaken by Actor Jeremy Irons. The fact that he’s a sailor iswell, just bonus!

Its a wonderful read. We encourage you to pick up the October 2017 issue of Vanity Fair Magazine and read it for yourself or view it online.

Below a few excerpts:

In the midst of a creative crisis, the British actor impulsively purchased Kilcoe Castle, a long-abandoned fortress near the water. VF Writer, David Kamp learns how a magical retreat came to be.  Inlaid in the wall of the courtyard, was a pale stone slab. Etched into the slab were the following words

MANY HEARTS LIE IN THESE WALLS.
FOUR YEARS WE WORKED, AND WE
JUST DID THE BEST WITH WHAT WE KNEW.
AND WHAT WE DID YOU SEE.
A.D. 2002

The hard work of making Kilcoe habitable again began in 1998 and took six years, wrapping up in 2004

Kilcoe, while not remotely a faithful re-creation of what it was 600 years ago—it offers such modern features as hot and cold running water, electricity, and Wi-Fi—is a magnificent place: at once stately-home beautiful and slightly mad, a 360-degree immersion in its owner’s eccentric psyche.

As Irons took on the massive project, his wife, the actress Sinéad Cusack notes: it was no coincidence that Irons, who was born in 1948, was soon to turn 50. “I did see it very much as Jeremy’s midlife crisis, and that he should get on with it,” she said. “Also, I understood where the need came from. Jeremy can’t bear waste. He can’t throw things out. I think he saw that castle as a beautiful ruin that needed to be saved, that needed not to die.”

But generally his instincts proved sharp. Early on, Irons noticed twig-like striations in the mortar on the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the main tower’s second floor, which is now a game room occupied by a large snooker table. Doing some research, Irons learned that, in medieval times, builders formed arched ceilings by bending into place a series of large wicker panels made of pliant, weaving-friendly woods such as hazel and willow, and holding these panels aloft from below with strong timber posts. The builders would then lay stones and mortar above the panels. Once the mortar squeezed through the woven panels and dried, the arches would hold themselves, and the underlying timber posts were removed. This backstory warmed Irons to the idea of using wicker panels as a decorative element throughout Kilcoe. He found a German-born weaver based in Cork, Katrin Schwart, to make such panels for the game room’s ceiling, and the results proved so spectacular that Schwart’s ornate wickerwork is now a motif throughout the castle, appearing on guest-bedroom ceilings, in the headboard of Irons’s own bed, and even on the outer frame of his bathtub.

“There’s something about the castle that generates the most extraordinary energy,” Irons said to me. “Everybody stays up ‘til three, four in the morning—talking, listening to music, drinking. You just want to go on, go on. It takes a bit of getting used to, this place. Because it does somehow produce an energy. Have you felt it?”

Kilcoe.
Article by David Kamp.
Photographs by Simon Upton.

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Read the article in it’s entirety in the October 2017 issue of Vanity Fair Magazine and online at https://www.vanityfair.com (yes, we are all subscribers :) ^jh

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Reminiscences of Summer.

Jim Gallagher, age 5, Summer, Milford, CT.
Jim Gallagher, age 5, Summer, Milford, CT.

Sitting at my desk on this mid-August weekday morning; my mind wanders and my eyes drift, landing on one of our handsome pond yachts here in the gallery and I allow myself a moment of repose and reflection.

Growing up in Connecticut, my family used to take a vacation every summer to the beach in Milford. We would rent a big old seasonal house on Silver Sands Beach.
It was there that I fell in love with sailing. My oldest brother loved to sail and had a number of different boats over the years.He taught me to sail on a Sunfish just one sail, a rudder and a centerboard. It fascinated me that with just those basic things along with the wind and the water, I could ride along the Long Island Sound for hours.

Jim Gallagher, 1993, Lake Champlain Sunfish Sailing
Jim Gallagher, 1993, Lake Champlain Sunfish Sailing

It was magical!

When I moved to San Francisco, I could not wait to get out on the Bay. It took a couple of years before I met some sailing folks and began my love affair with sailing on the Bay. The boats were a lot bigger and more complex than that first Sunfish back in the 1970’s but the feeling of freedom, of connection to the elements and the exhilaration of chasing the wind across the water was still the same.

When you are sailing, there are so many things to watch out for. How are the sails set? Where is the wind? What is the current doing? All of the stresses of life and work seem to fade so that you can focus on this one task. It is both energizing and calming and at the end you are physically drained and mentally calm. It is my happy place.

I always have a couple of pond yachts in the gallery. Part of the reason is that they are handsome and make great accent pieces in a room. The other part is because at different times throughout the day, I look up from my computer at them and think about being at the helm coming up into the wind with the Golden Gate in front of me the boat is heeling bit with some spray from the waves hitting my face and I smile.

Garden Court Antiques, San Francisco -Handsome English Pond Yacht Circa 1920 On Later Stand
Handsome English pond yacht circa 1920 on later stand
height: 51 in. 129.5 cm., width: 52 in. 132 cm., depth: 8 in. 20 cm.

 

Garden Court Antiques, San Francisco -Very Large Scale English Pond Yacht, circa 1920, on Later Stand
Very large scale English pond yacht, circa 1920 on later stand.
height: 96 in. 244 cm., width: 89 in. 226 cm., depth: 15 in. 38 cm.

^jg/jh