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COBRE Matl

Matilde Poulat Copper Candlesticks

by Fred Zweig

I had just delivered an order of my silver forged collars to Sam Pataniaís shop and stopped in to visit a shop that features pre-Columbian art, Spanish colonial, Mexican  items and the like.  Shortly after entering I spied three heavily patinated copper items in their display case.  When the case was unlocked I was thrilled to discover that each was marked Matl and above that "COBRE."



Cobre Matl mark

I was familiar with the religious silverwork of Matilde Poulat.  During the late 60ís I had seen the religious items coming from her shop in an upscale shop in Nogales, Sonora.

 The case held a copper covered bowl, a copper pitcher with silver wire decorations and a single copper three armed candlestick.  The shop attendant asked if I knew who the artist was and I told her what I knew and that I had never seen any copper items by this maker.  I then asked if I could get images of the items to see if I could find a buyer for all three pieces.  She graciously used the store's digital camera and gave me the disk.

Cobre Matl copper covered bowl, copper pitcher, and copper candlestick

For the next several months I made attempts to contact those who I thought might have an interest in acquiring these unusual Poulat pieces.  The Maestros de Plata exhibit was soon to open in San Antonio and many of those I contacted were busy preparing for the show or expressed no interest.

The price for all three was above my budget and I felt I could not afford to pay for even one item from the group.  So, as I visited the shop over the next few years, I saw the items disappear from the display case as they were sold.  The bowl, then the pitcher, and lastly I did not even see the candlestick there.

Cobre Matl pitcher with silver wire decoration

Cobre Matl
 copper bowl

A year and a half ago I visited the antique shop of a friend and found the candlestick on top of one of her cases.  Suspecting that she had acquired it from the previous shop, I thought I would surprise her by telling her where she got it.  She corrected me by saying that she had bought it at a local estate sale and had always suspected that it had a mate.  I asked if I could put it on lay-away and by the next year I had it paid off.  For some reason I never asked the first shop owner if he still had the other candlestick.

Cobre Matl candlestick

After almost three years since first seeing the Matl items, I decided to walk into the first shop to see if the owner could tell me more about the pieces he had sold.  It was then that I noticed the original candlestick on the top shelf of a reference archives bookshelf in his office.  The owner was not there but I asked his assistant If the candlestick was still for sale.  She said she would contact the owner of the shop and would get back to me.

Eventually I received a phone call from the owner of the shop and I told him that I had found the mate and wanted to know if he would allow me to buy the candlestick in trade and payments over time.  We came to an agreement and now my wife and I own the pair!

Cobre Matl copper candlesticks

Slowly I began compiling the provenance of these wonderful items. I learned that they had been acquired at the estate sale of Albert Keating.  Keating is the son of Arthur Keating and grandson of Edward Katzinger, founder of EKCO kitchen utensils.  During the 1940s, Arthur changed his name from Katzinger to Keating. The story I was told was that when Arthur was eleven year old, he had accompanied his father on a business trip to Mexico.  Arthur told my friend that he himself had chosen the copper items and that his father bought them for him.  My friend explained that he had seen the copper items in Arthurís house, but had never seen the second candlestick.  The dealer who sold me the second candlestick said she caught a glimpse of it under the bed at the estate sale.

I feel privileged to have been able to reunite the candlesticks and to share this find with others.

Fred Zweig

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Fred Zweig it is a metalsmith living in Tucson, Arizona.  His love of hand wrought metal, together with his admiration for those craftsmen who made it, has given him the drive to learn as much as possible about the history and culture of silversmithing, metalwork and jewelry.  Fred is an avid collector who uses his collection as a study tool and to assist him in understanding processes.  He willingly shares his experience and knowledge with others.

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Article by Fred Zweig
Photos courtesy of Fred Zweig
Web design by Marbeth Schon
www.mschon.com


 Copyright © 2006 MODERN SILVER magazine
 
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