Making do, or making the best of?

At first glance, some objects makes no sense at all.

Sure, this is a whale oil lamp. However, its font and stem have nothing at all to do with its foot.

The font and stem are typical—if extraordinarily rare examples—of hand blown lamps of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. However, the base dates to 1850 or even 1870. It is pressed from so-called 'clambroth' colored glass.

The font was fused to the blue, swirl-ribbed stem by wafers of blue glass while all elements were still hot:

The base was attached to the stem by an arrangement of metal washers, screws and a bolt, subtly visible through the clambroth base:

and even more so from underneath:

If the lamp was complete, its base would be more like this example in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I would place both lamps in the Boston area before 1830, probably 1825.

Some, in the antiques world, might consider this a make do—a practical attempt to extend the life of a functional object. Attend any antique show that includes "primitives" or "folk art" and you will see objects that have been cobbled together—the bowl of a goblet given a wooden stem and foot, or the font of a lamp with a foot made of tin. Usually they have been given enough warmth and charm to command a premium over similar objects that were unfortunate enough not to undergo damage and repair.

This feels different. A magnificent lamp underwent a tragic accident, losing its base. However, more than enough survived to preserve a sense of the whole.

Whoever contrived this base and attachment made wonderful choices. At a glance, the base almost vanishes. The clambroth glass almost hides the repair, but stops short.

This is far from a practical make do. This makes the best of that tragic accident.