AT Inbox: Reader seeks help identifying father’s jardiniere

Dear Editor,

A few years back, or should I say many years back, in the 1970s, my father showed me an article and picture regarding an auction sale that took place, I believe at Christy’s. The article was in the Antique Trader, which my father subscribed to and read avidly for many years.

The article announced the sale at auction of a French milk pail that was porcelain. The origin, as I remember, was around the time of Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution.

I remember my father showing me the picture in the article, comparing the details of the milk pail to that of a jardinière that he has possessed for many years (seen above and at right). He was able to trace the jardinière to New Orleans, as he bought it from an older man who lived there and later moved to Florida. The older man used the jardinière to change oil in his car, kept it in his garage, where my father spotted it covered in black sooty oil. He purchased it from the man, cleaned it up and the result, you can see in the pictures attached.

As I remember, the jardinière appeared to be of the same pattern, type of porcelain, same floral design and same raised beehive background pattern. I have looked through many Antique Traders that my father kept from the ’70s and ’80s, searching for that article, but I must presume that he cut the article out to show friends and family. The article from the Antique Trader about the French milk pail sale has been regrettably long lost for many years.

My father has since passed on … and the article that he showed me has long been a memory that I often think about when I look at the jardinière.

Can you help me? I feel as it is a chapter in my father’s life that remains open, although he is long since gone, that is in need of closure.

Thank you for listening.


Rick Martindale
Altamonte Springs, Fla.

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Buggy appraisal way off track

Dear Editor,

Just a quick note about your answer to the person who wrote in with an heirloom buggy in need of restoration. We subscribe to the AT and have been pleased with its content. Our primary interest is the news type articles and columns and advertisements for other than upcoming auctions most of which are too far away for us to bother with.

Re: the buggy, I thought you were very generous with your $500 estimate especially in today’s market, but please be advised that the Amish and Mennonite communities are not the major target when advertising horsedrawn vehicles like this one. There is a huge market for antique vehicles in the carriage driving sport, which has grown tremendously in recent years and shows no signs whatsoever of slowing down. Here is just one Web site connection:

Further, may I make a couple of gentle corrections. I realize that you have a tremendous undertaking fielding questions about anything and everything and of course nobody is an expert in everything! However, there are a couple of glaring misuses of words in your answer, and I suppose others have written also; if so, please pardon the unnecessary e-mail. The major faux pas is that “yolk” has nothing whatsoever to do with animal harness, it is the yellow part of an egg. Calling a whiffletree a yolk seems to suggest to me that you answered this question off the top of your head and didn’t research it at all. “Yoke” is the correct term when referring to animal harness, except a yoke is what goes over an ox’s neck and has nothing to do with pulling a horsedrawn vehicle. “Yoke” also refers to the wooden bucket carriers (usually with the neck cutouts) people placed across their shoulders, and the shoulder area of a blouse or shirt.

The term you were looking for is “whiffletree” or “whippletree,” which is a crossbar to which a horse’s harness is attached. The whippletree is then attached to the vehicle. 

Also, you use the term “poles,” but the more correct term is “shafts.” I just love Wikipedia which provides so many answers to so many different topics:

If a vehicle is pulled by two horses it will have a single shaft running out between the two horses. If a vehicle is pulled by a single horse, it may have a set of 2 shafts, whose ends are run through loops on the horse’s sides to hold them. If no shafts are present, the horse(s) is instead attached to the vehicle by leather traces (see the diagram in the Web page above).   

I hope your correspondent will find a good way to market his buggy, which basically is “NOS” never used and therefore never subjected to road damage. Hopefully it is not dry rotted and the storm damage is not too horrible to fix.
Thanks again for an interesting variety of topics. 

Kind regards,

Jane Silvernail
Niverville, N.Y.

Ed. Yes, Jane, it looks like the ‘yolk’ is on me. –Eric Bradley