Northeast America, ca. 1865. This important historical "document" ironically in the form of a utilitarian potholder was likely crafted by a freed slave, or a Northern sympathizer, soon after President Lincoln signed a Joint Resolution submitting the 13th Amendment to the states in 1865. The imagery of the jubilant dancing couple symbolizes slaves coming together rather than being torn apart and sold. This imagery debuted in abolitionist antebellum times when the focus was on the potential of slave liberation rather than the harsh reality of slave's lives, and during the Civil War was employed by Union women on pot holders to sell and raise money for bandages, food and other supplies for Union troops. Pre-13th Amendment dancing-couple images were accompanied by the expression "Any holder but a slaveholder". We's Free reflects that key moment in history when the hope of being free was transformed into reality. What further elevates this little potholder to importance is that it was a personal, hand-made work, not a manufactured piece, and by the fabric wear, indicating that the pot holder was not just for celebration yet also lived with as a recurring spirit lifter. About 6 inches square. A double-sided framing would protect the fabric and enable viewing on both sides..
Northern States, ca. last quarter, 19th century. Watercolor on paper. HIGHER RESOLUTION PHOTOS EASILY EMAILED. Clearly inspired by the steel engraving of The First Battle of Bull Run, 21st July 1861, by noted artist John C. McRae of New York City. The battle was fought in Prince William County, Virginia, near the city of Manassas, not far from Washington, D.C. It was the first major battle of the American Civil War and a Confederate victory over the then poorly trained Union troops. This watercolor painting is an extraordinary interpretation of the monochromatic McRae engraving with vivid, brilliant colors by an unknown artist skilled in the use of watercolors and deeply motivated to bring the engraving to vibrant life, giving the work folk art appeal in addition to its historical significance. Pencil inscribed on the back "First Battle of Bull Run" No 95 (unknown what the 95 refers to, as this artwork is an original watercolor, not a print). Colors are saturated and unfaded. Paper condition is excellent with minor professional restoration about the edges. Frame size about 32 inches wide x 23 tall. Sight size about 27 inches x 17 3/4.
Lancaster County, PA, ca. 1800-1840. OF JUST THREE DOZEN DOME TOP BOXES ATTRIBUTED TO THE COMPASS ARTIST, THIS BOX IS THE SMALLEST AT UNDER FOUR INCHES. Poplar and perhaps pine. Dovetailed case. Tiny cut nails attach the base and hand-planed lid. Decorations laid out and scribed by compass before painting. Distinctive tinned sheet iron hinges, and punchwork-decorated escutcheon plate and fan-shaped hasp are characteristic of this maker and original. Painted with a Prussian blue ground, the scribe lines highlighted with white or red paint, inner petals filled with red, and outer lobes profusely stippled with red dots. About 3.75 inches high by 3.75 wide by 2.75 deep. Untouched condition. See The Compass Artist of Lancaster County Pennsylvania, Wendy Cooper et al., American Furniture, Beckerdite, 2009, pp 62-87 for an extensive discussion of Compass Boxes. Similar boxes are in Wintherthur and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in some of the finest folk art collections.
New England, likely Massachusetts (Hingham area) or New Hampshire, ca. 1800-1825 (War of 1812 era). Appears to be pine top and bottom and perhaps ash as the band. Intaglio stamped JR, the maker, possibly for "John Ripley" a second generation cooper working in Hingham who used the stamp JR. Paint initialed "LP." which would likely represent the owner, or the town in which the militia was mustered. Original dry blue-green paint with beautifully contrasting red bursting star and border, and remarkably retains its carved red plug. The pride of being a member of the militia was so strong that these canteens were decoratively embellished to represent the militia in parades to accessorize their clothing and hats. Excellent, robust structural condition with the minor loss of two of the three leather sling loops, and a bit of wear on the highpoints of the hand-planing, on the signed side. About 7 1/8 inch diameter x 2 5/8 tall.
Attributed to the Connecticut Filley Tinshop, Bloomfield, CT, ca 1800-1846 (as per Martin and Tucker). Rare paint decorated tinware snuff box from an important collection of American Folk Art. Paint and thin copper-colored asphaltum on tin. The lid skillfully decorated in brush strokes of dark green, yellow-green, dark red and pink; the body bordered by stylized tear-drops in yellow-green. Just 2 5/8 inches long x 1 5/8 wide x 1 1/8 tall. Excellent structural condition. Pictured on page 17: AMERICAN PAINTED TINWARE, VOLUME III, Gina Martin and Lois Tucker. Quoting from that reference: "An extremely rare form in this small snuff box. The design is similar to the geometrically balanced designs already seen [in references to the CT Filley shop]". Provenance: Sotheby's New York, January Americana Week, 2006, from the American Folk Art Collection of Jeremy L. Banta.
New England, ca. 1800. ONE-OF-A-KIND. SOULFUL. OF REMARKABLE FORM AND ORIGINALITY HAVING NOT BEEN ON THE MARKET IN AT LEAST 40 YEARS. Ash and pine. Wooden-peg and cut-nail joinery. Vent holes form the initials 'L' and 'M', likely for whom the lantern was made. The design has a compelling folk art presence with a whimsical sideward bias: two side walls vertical, the others angled toward them. Unified by a dry red-painted surface resulting from more than two centuries of handling and exposure. The character is augmented by thin, wavy glass with expected pronounced distortions, held in place by un-headed cut nails. A small leather-hinged door provides access to the interior, its diminutive opening limiting a smaller hand to pass through, perhaps that of the lady 'LM'. The leather hinges are remarkable in their own-right, well worn yet undisturbed, and encrusted with paint and grunge. The carved turnbuckle is also original. The door opens to the first wrought iron candle socket, which pierces the lantern bottom and is held in place by a wooden wedge. It is significant that the original socket remains, as many lanterns had it replaced due to deterioration from heat and from candles being pushed in and stubs pried out. It also suggests, combined with the presence of the first leather-hinges, that this lantern had limited use in period, probably not an everyday object but rather withheld for special times. Eye-catching verticality and presence as it stands about 15 1/2 inches tall not including the wire hanger; base dimensions about 6 inches x 6 1/2.....Comparable painted treen lanterns are exceedingly rare. See lot 264, Weld Collection, Skinner Auction, August 13, 2000 for comparison. For the advanced collector pursuing the best. .
Great Lakes, 19th century. Gilt paint over gesso on carved pine, even the chain links are carved from pine. This trade sign was from a Lake Erie ships "chandlery", which was a supplier of goods for ships/boats. Note that every piece is carved, including the links. This sign may rest on a table or chest, or be hung from the links. Hanging would be easy as the sign is very lightweight. Exceptional condition with minor imperfections. Clearly made by an accomplished wood worker, note the smooth transitions and the crisp carving of the flukes. Not including the links it is about 25 1/2 inches long; 31 inches if hung from the links. Width about 20 inches tip to tip. Important provenance of Betty Doran and Bill Samaha, Milan, Ohio.
New England or Pennsylvania, ca. 1840. Tiny, yet solid, colorfully paint-decorated band box with maple wall and pine or poplar base and top. Red dots and lines on white, with black vining. Probably held small jewelry or other little valuables. Excellent strutural condition. Just 3 5/8 inches long. Purchased many years ago from Sydney Gecker Antiques and Folk Art. Sweet!