An unknown stove maker. A circular tile stove

19th century
Glazed pottery, central part diametre 70 cm, mantelpiece 90 cm, height 190 cm
Restored by Martin Rosenberger in the years 2015 – 2017, restoration documentation is in the museum archive under No. 2015/02-R

A circular tile stove

This circular tile stove stood in the building of the Spiš Museum in Mäsiarska Street in Levoča. It had been built in 1937 and served as an exhibit in the first museological exhibition. In 2014, prior to the reconstruction of the object, it was necessary to dismantle and restore it. During the restoration research several interesting facts had been discovered. The stove is incomplete, some tiles are missing. Only the stove shell had originally been constructed, without smoke flues and the fixation to the chimney. Stoves of this type usually have a cascaded finish and there is an antique vase on the top. It was generally used in the 19th century and one could find them also in the households of the upper middle class. It is a type of a circular tile stove which was operated by the servants from the corridor (wood was added through a small opening in the chimney from the corridor). Inside, there was a metal grating to protect the tiles from breaking during the addition of the wood on the fire. However, it had no inner blasts as they are known from later tile stoves. The stove was constructed as one inner space with the rear wall directly connected to the chimney, which the exhausts would flow through. This tile stove from the museum collections has been restored with the aim to do away with the imperfecions as well as find a way of quality presentation, so that it could give an impression of a clean design and style, however, without the reconstruction of the stove upper edge. First, the individual tiles were cleansed of potter’s clay and dirt. After the tiles had been glued, the missing parts were added by plaster infillings. The missing ornaments were made of alabaster plaster by means of silicon forms and tiled with sand paper into the required shape.
The missing tiles were made as copies of the same shape and material. They were made from a lighter clay so that they are easily recognisable. The production of the copies required a more complicated calculation of the percentage of clay shrinking, production of plaster forms and tile models as well as glazing colour tests. The stove is constructed by means of a metal construction that would allow its safe transfer in case of a possible exhibition presentation of the stove outside the depository.

An unknown stove maker. A tile fireplace

End of the 18th century
Glazed pottery, height 160 cm, width 89 cm, depth 61cm
Restored by Martin Rosenberger in the years 2013 – 2015, restoration documentation is in the museum archive under No. 2015/01-R

A tile fireplace

This tile fireplace stood in the building of the Spiš Museum in Mäsiarska Street in Levoča where it had probably been put together from tiles of several previous stoves that had a similar character of artistic decoration and came, most likely, from one workshop, having been made for one commissioner.
Prior to the restoration, this fireplace stood in the old museum exposition. It was constructed by the classical stovemaking technique using potter’s clay and wire, however, without flues, in other words, it was not functional. It had been dismantled due to the reconstruction of the museum building. During the restoration research it was discovered that several tiles had been incorrectly put together and tile shards from different places had been applied (e.g. the mantelpiece from the bottom socle section was applied on the tile under the tympanum).
Following the drawing and photo documentation the tile fireplace had been professionally dismantled. We proceeded from the upper inner side downards. Some tiles, mainly from the upper part of the stove, were contaminated with soot. It was detected mainly between the glazing and the shard. It happened during the heating in the fireplace when the soot would penetrate through tile shards and settle under the glazing. The contamination could not be cleansed from the surface. What had turned out as most effective were packs of cotton wool soaked with water mixed with a cleansing agent. Nevertheless, it was not possible to clean it completely. The final presentation was proposed indentically with the previous museum installation. Thus the restoration of individual tiles had to follow suit.
In the restoration proposal it was suggested to construct the stove in the classical manner by means of potter’s clay and wire in the museum building in Mäsiarska Street in Levoča (an open depository). However, in such a case the stove could not be used for exhibition purposes, because the dismantling and re-building would be very demanding, jeopardising also the restored sections. Therefore, a wooden construction was made which serves as a skeleton of the stove. With it, individual tiles can be attached without using the potter’s clay. The stove can simply be dismantled by means of glued-on eyes and hooks and re-build again. This makes it possible to use the stove as an exhibition item and then deposit it in the depository without any further interventions.

At the foot of the Spiš Castle

At the foot of the Spiš Castle

The Spiš Castle hill is a remarkable natural sight and one of the dominant landmarks of the eastern part of the Hornád Valley. It was the mineral springs in the primal ancient times which had given rise to the origin of the castle hill. They started springing out millions of years ago, during the late Tertiary Period. Nature had created a rocky acropolis protected by steep cliffs thus providing a safe haven already to prehistoric men. Equally, it had inspired the medieval builders to construct the most important fortified residence in the Spiš region. The whole of the rocky massif is inwrought with a network of crevasses and clefts which had torn it into numerous blocks and floes, slowly moving along the unstable bed. With the movement of travertine blocks the crevasses were getting bigger and some of them had acquired, in the course of time, the character of a cave space. One of them is a large crevasse which was given the name the Dark Cave. The entry to it is on the north-western side of the castle hill. In 1970 it was speleologically mapped for the first time, and in detail, by Ivan Cebecauer and Milan Liška. The cave got into a wider public awareness in 2005 when a unique find of human skeleton remains was published. It was discovered in situ with the Roman coins, two leather purses and other artefacts. Until recently nobody knew that this was not the first remarkable find from this area.
When building up the museum exposition at the Spiš Castle in 1985, they came across a prehistoric earthen amphora, in the permanent exhibits illustrating the prehistoric settlement of the castle hill and its surroundings, with characteristic features close to the Baden culture. It was registered as an archaeological find from the Spiš Castle, without any further accompanying information. However, it was possible to obtain further information about the find from the materials acquired as a heritage from Adrián Vallašek, head of the archaeological section of monuments research at the Spiš Castle in the years 1969 – 1978. In the discovered list of rather significant pottery finds from the above mentioned research there is also a torso of a vessel corresponding to this amphora with its description. They had managed to take it out of the undeground space during the measuring of the biggest cleft in the castle hill. According to its description it must have, undoubtedly, been the above mentioned Dark Cave. It is quite likely that, during the millennia of settlement in this locality, numerous artefacts had ended up in bigger clefts, in addition to alluvia and debris. The overall composition of the finds taken out of the cave space (ancient finds from various periods, from prehistory up to modern times) is an evidence of it. Although, they surely represent only a modest part of the objects which had been bogged down inside the castle hill over the ages. At the same time, they make us think how many other remarkable finds will, apparently, for ever stay hidden in the inaccessible space of the underground.

At the foot of Spis Castle 2

Clay pot

the Middle Ages
Unglazed pottery, height 38cm, central section diametre 22,9 cm, bottom diametre 6 cm
conserved by Martin Rosenberger in the year 2017, conservation documentation in museum archive under No. 2017/004-R

Pot-like vessel

the Púchov culture, the 2nd century BC – the 2nd century AD
unglazed pottery , height 40 cm, neck diametre 27 cm, bottom diametre 19,5 cm
conserved by Martin Rosenberger in the year 2016, conservation documentation in museum archive under No. 2016/018-R

Clay plate

the Modern Age, the 17th century
unglazed pottery, height 7,5 cm, diametre 30,5cm, bottom diametre 13cm
restored by Martin Rosenberger in the year 2016, restoration documentation in museum archive under No. 2016/019-R