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Winter Sports
Back in the nineteenth century when northern snows came early and stayed late, when Whittier glorified the delights of the New England winter in "Snowbound," when there were no automobiles and consequently no highways to be kept open, deep snows were accepted as a proper part of winter.
American Steel Engravings
Although many of us can remember seeing such steel engravings as "Washington and His Generals," "First Blow for Liberty," and similar historic subjects in the homes of our grandparents, these are among the heirlooms so far passed over by most collectors in favor of the colored prints by Currier & Ives and other lithographers. Yet they date from the same period.
Baseball Prints
Baseball is now over a hundred and fifteen years old. Its birthplace was Cooperstown, New York, and it was evolved from a now forgotten game called "town ball" by one Abner Doubleday, a student at a military school there. Abner could not have foreseen the far reaching results of what he started with a ball, bat, and nine boys in 1839, when sports were mainly confined to horse racing, boat racing, and county-fair wrestling matches.
Nineteenth-Century Election-Day Prints
Voting for a candidate on Election Day a hundred years ago was no private matter. Although printed lists had superseded the earlier practice of verbal voting in practically all of the thirty-one states, proceedings at the polls were still informal and uninhibited. There were few state regulations, no voting booths, no numbered ballots, and no ban on electioneering at the polling place. Ballots, usually of a distinctive color, were furnished by political organizations and distributed by party workers. Each voter, vigilantly watched by his party captain, presented his ballot to the moderator in full view of those present, and how he voted was no secret.
Portraits of George Washington
"I SIT LIKE PATIENCE on a monument whilst they are delineating the lines of my face... At first I was as impatient at the request and as restive under the operation as a colt is of the saddle. The next time I submitted very reluctantly, but with less flouncing; now no dray moves more readily to the thill than I do to the painter's chair."
Kitten Prints
Although colored lithographs of playful kittens, published by Currier & Ives and their contemporaries, have been pretty much ignored by those who write about nineteenth-century prints, there is a sizeable group of people who prize them.
Charles Loring Elliott, Portrait Painter
The outstanding portrait painter of the United States in the mid-nineteenth century was an entirely American artist. Although many of his contemporaries had studied abroad, Charles Loring Elliott never left his native land. At the height of his career, he was hailed as the successor to Gilbert Stuart. Today, an impressive number of his paintings hang in leading museums but, except for art specialists, his work is not as well known to the general public as it should be.
Krimmel, Early American Genre Artist
Called the Hogarth of America by his contemporaries, John Lewis Krimmel was born in Germany in 1789. He was twenty-one when he joined his brother George in America with the idea of following his bent as an artist. The elder brother considered this impractical and clapped him into a Philadelphia counting house.
Paintings That Tell a Story
Life in America during the nineteenth century was dramatically portrayed by a number of artists who took homely, everyday scenes as subjects for their canvases. Known as "genre" paintings, they are now records of social and economic activities in the rural United States of a century ago. Some of these artists found various phases of the New England countryside appealing, some painted scenes laid in the mountains of the South, and still others showed Indian life on the plains of the Middle West.
Portraits of Early Americans
Previous to 1839 when the daguerreotype was perfected, pencil and brush were the only means of recording human likenesses. There were trained artists at home and abroad to depict the wealthy and politically important, of course, but were it not for the unknown itinerant painters of a century and a half ago, we should have very little idea of how the average American of that time looked.
Ralph Earl, Connecticut's First Great Painter
From about 1790 to 1801 Ralph Earl was the favored portrait painter of Connecticut. Many of his paintings hang in our leading museums. Occasionally one unknown to art experts comes to light. Usually its owner knows little. more about it than the name of his forebear who sat for the likeness. He has paid no attention to the artist's signature and date, which is usually on the back of the canvas, covered by the dust of years.
American Andirons of Brass and Wrought Iron
From the start of the Colonial period to about 1835 when fireplaces were superseded by stoves, andirons were taken-for-granted household items. For two hundred years American homes depended on wood-burning fireplaces for heat and cooking. Andirons were essential. Probably they were among the necessities brought over by the first settlers.
American Animal Weathervanes
In these days of radio weather reports, without which the spot news programs would be considered incomplete, we are apt to forget that there was a time when people had to be their own weather prophets. Would the day be fair and warm or would there be rain by afternoon? Many a citizen prided himself on his ability to sense what sort of weather was imminent.
Brass Candlesticks from Birmingham
Although some of our more opulent ancestors had candlesticks of silver or Sheffield plate, Americans of moderate means felt well served if they had one or more pairs of brass. Kept gleaming by repeated polishings and brought out on special occasions, they were luxuries to be treasured. For everyday use, simpler ones of pewter or wrought iron were adequate.
Early American Door Knockers
"THE LATCHSTRING IS OUT,- is now only a figure of speech, a symbol of hospitality. But the door with a latchstring was a commonplace in early America and continued as part of log-cabin equipment as our forefathers pioneered westward and established new settlements. Then the latchstring was a leather thong attached to a wooden bar on the inside of the door. When passed through a hole to the outside, it served as a latch when pulled. Therefore, a latchstring on the outside was a tacit invitation for the visitor to pull it and enter. When the latchstring was pulled in, the reverse held, of course.
A Nineteenth-Century Painter of Outdoor Life
Among the finest of the prints published by Currier & Ives and their contemporaries were reproductions of paintings done by leading artists of the period. Because these artists pictured interesting phases of American life during the years of development and expansion that marked the nineteenth century, both prints and paintings are in favor today, both for their historic importance and their artistic value.
Coach Lamps
For about fifty years, state laws have required vehicles to be lighted from sunset to sunrise. Before the motor-car era, whether a coach or carriage was fitted with lamps was a matter of the owner's preference. Then eight miles an hour was a fast pace. Night traffic was at a minimum and lighting one's carriage was not considered essential to public safety.
Iron Candlesticks for Common Use
Probably the first settlers in America read or worked after sundown by a flickering rushlight or the murky glow of a betty lamp. By the time their children had homes of their own, there was sufficient leisure for candlemaking to be included in the household chores. Candles were dipped or molded from tallow or beeswax and holders for them were in demand.
The Paul Revere Lantern
Lanterns of pierced sheet iron were made in America long before Paul Revere was born. They were a commonplace household article when he was a child. There is no record that the versatile Boston silversmith ever made one but, according to Longfellow's rhymed account of the Patriot's famous ride, he did direct their use as signals from the North Church steeple on that night. So, "one if by land and two if by sea" was enough to give such lanterns the name they have borne for some ninety years or shortly after the poem was published.
Pewter-Making in the Nineteenth Century
ONE OF THE first indications of easier living in the American colonies was the use of pewter for household items. It was the first step up from the wooden trencher for table use and from the wrought iron candlestick which served to light the hardworking pioneer to his night's rest.
How To Know Good China
There are five factors to keep in mind when judging a piece of china-(1) the body or paste of which it is made; (2) the glaze that covers its surface; (3) the kind of article and its contour; (4) the manner of its decoration; and (5) the mark affixed by its maker.
Collecting Pottery
Pottery is one of the most diverse of the collectibles. Where can one find such a cast of characters with little in common other than being made of clay? Collecting pottery can be very costly. One must do a bit of homework if they intend to become a serious collector.
Rockingham Pottery 1820-1842
The Rockingham china factory, at Swinton in Yorkshire, was established by Thomas Brameld about 1820 as an outgrowth of the potteries that had flourished for some time previously.
Paris China History
From about 1760 onward, but chiefly in the later years of the eighteenth century, a number of porcelain factories sprang up in Paris and in its immediate suburbs.
We Call It Satsuma
SATSUMA is probably the most familiar name to Western ears of all the names associated with Japanese potteries, and there seems to be general agreement that the old Satsuma takes foremost rank in its field. The princedom of Satsuma is in the southern part of the island of Kuishu, one of the larger isles of Japan.
Old Land Deeds
It has been a habit amongst lawyers in recent times that, when purchases are made of land, only the deeds that immediately concern the title are handed over, and early ones, unnecessary to quote in the abstract of the title, are considered as of small importance.
Old English Ironwork
Previous to the time of Lady Dorothy Nevill few persons seem to have made a really careful study of the history of old English domestic ironwork.
Antique Color Prints
In an old house, in a low room, and especially in one looking on to an old-fashioned garden, there is hardly anything that can form a more pleasing decoration than a collection of old prints.
Traders' Tokens
Most collections of coins, however small, contain some few examples of the two series of tokens known as those of the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries.
Lace Bobbins
Amongst the curious things that people are now collecting are the bobbins used in lace-making, in the counties of Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Devonshire.
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