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  #1  
Old 02-12-2009, 02:19 AM
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Landseer Landseer is offline
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Copper mask

I recently made arrangements to acquire this copper cornice that came from a 28 story hotel whose 1916 facade was stripped in 1979 to it's 16,000 ton steel frame, and sheathed in glass to become Trump's non-descript "Grand Hyatt" hotel.
It was next to Grand Central Station whose architects also designed the 2000 room hotel for the railroad.
It had the largest ballroom in the country, with a 40 foot high ceiling.

180 of these stamped copper masks were part of the rooftop cornice that was installed around the perimeter, the section is 44" wide, 32" high. Most of them were torn up and scrapped for the 60 cents a pound by the contractor, a few were salvaged, at least one was on the wall of the salvage place I worked one summer at- priced $1800 back then, another was sold at auction in 2004 for an undisclosed amount ( past auction price results can only be viewed with a paid subscription) this one was cut into a smaller section 30" wide and the photo shows it had some damage to it.

They were made using multiple metal dies to form the pieces by stamping the sheet copper on a heavy press, the individual pieces were trimmed, soldered and riveted to form the 3D masks which were then soldered and riveted to a shaped backing.
The masks were on the vertical face section of the massive cornice which projected out from the wall a couple to three feet.
The sections were further soldered and riveted on the job-site into a continuous cornice.

Stone carvings can be replicated, terra cotta, bronze casts, cast iron easy enough in the same materials.
These copper stampings however would be so prohibitedly expensive to even make the sets of dies required, that it could be considered irreplaceable.

At the time- 30 years ago I climbed up the outside scaffold around 3 AM intending to salvage one of these but was unsuccessful due to their size, a watchman on duty, and construction work lights on up there.

The design reminds me of a theater for some reason... the hotel had a nautical theme as it was named after Commodore Vanderbilt.
In the photo of the hotel taken in 1928 from some distance away the masks can be seen which shows how massive they were.

Last edited by Landseer : 05-15-2010 at 07:55 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-12-2009, 10:54 AM
tobias tobias is offline
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Re: Copper mask

This mask is amazing. Trump is a jerk then again most were in 76. Take some good pics of it when you get it and post them. Or could you email me some high quality shots?
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  #3  
Old 02-12-2009, 01:59 PM
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Re: Copper mask

Quote:
Originally Posted by tobias View Post
This mask is amazing. Trump is a jerk then again most were in 76. Take some good pics of it when you get it and post them. Or could you email me some high quality shots?
Yeah it's a cool design, not sure what it represents or what the connection of the design is to the building's nautical theme. There were on the lower 4 floors carved panels in limestone with ship prows and human figure sculptures on them among other designs, they were jackhammered flush with the stone- totally destroying them.
The brick and carved stone caryatid type sculptures above the 4th floor were torn off to the steel frame, they left the stone on the lower 4 floors but destroyed all the carvings.

The top floor had 16 huge limestone figure sculpture/busts that were destroyed as well.
I have some pictures I'll post tonight, for now a side view of the copper, when I get it I'll take good pics and post em.

Easy to see from the side how these had to be made in multiple sections, that's 32" high in the photo.

Last edited by Landseer : 05-15-2010 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 02-12-2009, 09:03 PM
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Landseer Landseer is offline
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Re: Copper mask

Here's an attached pic from 1917 during construction, a bacchus keystone can be seen- note the scale of it compared to the man on the scaffold nearby, and there were pairs of 3 faced lion mask pedistals under columns on either side of some of the windows, one pedistal and column can also be seen- all of this was jackhammered flush.

And a photo taken in 1918 from Park Avenue towards Grand Central Station and the hotel which was almost topped out, a remarkable view which is no longer possible- a building was built on the corner, the elevated train tracks were removed, and a ramped elevated viaduct was put in the center of Park Ave where the crane is- towards and around the terminal for traffic to go around it.

The terminal's clock and carved limestone figure group is the largest ever made and depicts and eagle with spread wings, Mercury, Atlas and Minerva, the heads alone of which are around 5 feet tall, chin to top. The terminal was almost demolished in the 60's, and some bright bulb proposed building a huge office tower over the top of it on "stilts"



Minerva, carved limestone, shows the scale and detail even though this is around 12 stories above the street;


Last edited by Landseer : 05-15-2010 at 07:55 PM.
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  #5  
Old 03-04-2009, 01:36 PM
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Re: Copper mask

I found a good photo of one of these in a book on decorating with salvage that I just bought, looks pretty coo,l and looks to be around 7- 8 pieces or more soldered together.

It is tentatively being delivered Friday evening.
I have 3 places on the wall to choose from to hang it, so which location it will go I'll decide this weekend I guess.
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Old 03-06-2009, 09:30 PM
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Re: Copper mask

The sculpture has arrived, 44" x 36" it weighs 20#, the seller delivered it- very nice fellow, seems he bought it from a Florida collector 15 years ago who had 2 of them, the Florida guy decided to CLEAN and shine up the other one, after he did that he seriously regretted it!

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