Mechanical Castor Frame Back in ProductionBy

"Mechanical" Pickle Castor Frame Back in Production

The latest new pickle castor frame is a reproduction of a reproduction.

Most commonly sold as a "mechanical" frame, the lid rises automatically as the handle is pressed backwards. This style was first reproduced from the early 1970s through the 1980s. No old counterpart to this style of frame is known.

Ironically, the ca. 1970s reproduction is apparently the model for nearly identical new frames made in India in late 2001. New Indian-made frames have now filtered into the antiques and collectibles markets causing yet more confusion about this style of frame. This includes having the 1970s reproductions being offered as the "original" Victorian version.

Compared to the 1970s frames, the Indian-made pieces are fairly crude. Indian frames are made of cast brass pieces fastened together with very large and obvious soldered joints. Some have mistaken these joints and brass bodies as evidence of handmade Victorian construction. It's quite the opposite. Virtually no 19th century originals are made of solid brass. Soldered joints on vintage pieces are skillfully made and almost undetectable to casual view.

The Indian frames sold at reproduction wholesalers for around $65 each.

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Fig. 1

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Fig. 2

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Fig. 3

Figs. 1-3 Three views of the reproduction so-called mechanical pickle castor frame. Pressing back the handle raises the lid (Fig. 2). The reproduction from the 1970s is shown in Figs. 2 (side) and 3 (front). The reproduction made since late 2001 is shown in Fig. 1 (side).

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Fig. 4 Close up of portrait medallion and birds on base of cast brass Indian-made castor. Available in the US since late 2001.

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Fig. 5 Similar view from 1970s frame. The better detail has led some to believe the 1970s copies are 19th century originals.

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Fig. 6 Indian-made frames have very crude and obvious soldered joints. These joints on Indian frames often have very weak to almost nonexistent plating.

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Fig. 7

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Fig. 8

Figs. 7 & 8 Comparison of hook connecting lid to handle on new mechanical castor frame. Hook on Indian frame, Fig. 8, is hand-curled. Hook on 1970s frame, Fig. 7, is cast.