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Americana and Folk Art Antiques Collectibles Furniture

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Americana and Folk Art (CA. 18th C. - 20th C.)

Though the pieces are timeless, folk art emerged as a collecting genre only in the 1920s. Then as now, collectors focused on American artifacts. The earliest were prompted in part by the awareness of a nation changed: in that decade, for the first time the majority of U.S. citizens lived in cities, rather than on farms and in small towns. At the same time, the ascendance of Modernism in art and design was countered by promoters of the Colonial Revival style. That movement drew from attics and barns old hand-carved furniture, stilted 19th-century family portraits, weathervanes and butter churns.

     The best folk art items were purchased by an odd mix that included bohemians and intellectuals, along with J.P. Morgan and members of the Chrysler and Rockefeller families (who began funding, for instance, the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia in the 1920s). If nostalgia played a role, the primary motivation for folk art collectors was — as it is today — a recognition of the artistic merit and cultural significance of pure, honest expressions of the human impulse toward beauty.

     Simplicity is its hallmark, yet folk art defies a simple definition — and covers a vast amount of ground. Folk art has been called "the art of the everyday": objects created by people, with no formal training in the arts, for use in their daily lives. These include everything from tools and toys to quilts, baskets, jugs, dowry chests and duck decoys. Folk art is generally made by hand; works might be carved, sewn, chiseled, knitted, hammered, woven or embroidered and more. Such techniques were passed down through the generations — one reason folk-art collecting has been described as "a kind of archaeology." Folk art reveals the inherent values and traditions of a community, through time-honored crafts, decorative motifs and pictorial subject matter.

     All folk art intrinsically reflects a sense of pride. "Americana" is folk art that does so overtly: through work that honors civic ideals and celebrates national and local achievements. Americana includes flags, bunting, carved bald eagles, and needlework with allegorical figures representing Liberty and Democracy; or helmets and buckets used by a volunteer fire brigade; or the trappings of fraternal organizations such as the Oddfellows. Collectors of Americana typically also collect American antique furniture that, while made in the workshops of a master cabinetmaker or joiner, reflects regional stylistic traits, tastes and quirks.

     Almost all folk art is anonymous — and the prominent exception being signed work by early 19th-century itinerant portrait artists like the New Englander Ammi Phillips, whose 1835 portrait of a young girl and her pets was the first piece of folk art to sell for $1 million at auction. Until relatively recently, work by Phillips and his ilk was the prime focus of folk art collectors: the folk art of the Northeast defined the category. But recently, more attention and more scholarship have been devoted to the folk art of other regions: to the South, and the artwork of enslaved African Americans and their descendants; and to the Southwestern and early Latino folk art. Born in a time of change, folk art collecting is changing along with the nation.

Halladay H37 Star Red Windmill Weight
By U. S. Wind Engine and Pump Company
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Iron

Rare Patriotic Presidential Applique Quilt from 1925
Category

Early 20th Century American

Materials

Cotton

Pair of Robin's Egg Blue-Painted Benches
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Hepplewhite Mahogany, Birch Inlaid Chest of Drawers, New Hampshire, circa 1815
Category

Antique Early 19th Century American Hepplewhite

Materials

Birch, Mahogany

Mahogany Sheraton or Federal Upholstered Open Armchair, New England, circa 1810
Category

Antique 19th Century American Sheraton

Materials

Mahogany

Rare Carved Mahogany Upholstered Classical Armchair, Possibly Southern
Category

Antique Early 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Mahogany

Classical Mahogany Settee, Brass Inlay, Dolphin Feet, Philadelphia, 1825
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Brass

American Mahogany and Églomisé Banjo Clock, E. Howard, Boston, Circa 1860
Category

Antique 1860s American American Empire

Cherry Federal Tilt-Top Table with Shaped Top, New England, circa 1810-1820
Category

Antique 19th Century American Federal

Materials

Cherry

American Architectural Wood Carved Eagles
By Unknown
Category

Antique 19th Century American Folk Art

Materials

Wood

Fine Carved Lyre Mahogany Window Seat, NY, Earnest Hagen, circa 1885
Category

Antique 19th Century American Neoclassical

Materials

Mahogany

American Carnival Wagon or Band Organ Carved Female Head
Category

Antique 19th Century American Folk Art

Materials

Wood

American Federal Period Cast Iron Eagle
Category

Antique 1810s American

Pennsylvania Backgammon Board, Signed "Wise"
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Wood

Antique Hooked American Rug
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Colonial

Materials

Wool

Tiger Maple Queen Anne High Chest with Bonnet Top, Massachusetts
Category

Antique Late 18th Century American Queen Anne

Materials

Maple

Painted Tall Case Clock, Eight-Day Moon Dial Works
Category

Antique 19th Century American Chippendale

Large School or Church Bell with Mounting Base, New England
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Metal

Pair of Walnut Queen Anne Side Chairs with Shell, Philadelphia, circa 1740-1760
Category

Antique 1750s American Queen Anne

Materials

Walnut

Antique Quilt, "Robbing-Peter-to-Pay-Paul"
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Cotton

Small Mahogany Queen Anne Oval, Drop-Leaf Table with Six Legs
Category

Antique Mid-18th Century British Queen Anne

Materials

Mahogany

Vintage Miniature Train Depot
Category

Vintage 1930s American

Materials

Sheet Metal

American 18th Century Child's Chair with Original Woven Seat
Category

Antique Late 18th Century American American Colonial

Materials

Wood

Mariner's Compass Quilt with Swag and Bow Border
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Cotton

Rare George Hunzinger Rocking Chair with Patented Steel Webbing, 1869
By George Hunzinger
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Craftsman

Classical Painted Armchair, Baltimore, circa 1820
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

American Empire Side Table with Writing Surface in Mahogany, circa 1825
Category

Antique 1820s American American Empire

Materials

Mahogany

Hepplewhite Shield Back Armchair, Mahogany, New York, circa 1790
By George Shipley
Category

Antique 1790s American Hepplewhite

Materials

Mahogany

Mahogany Chippendale, Six Leg Claw and Ball Drop-Leaf Dining Table
Category

Antique Mid-18th Century American Chippendale

Materials

Mahogany

Patriotic Crib Quilt
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Velvet, Satin

George Hunzinger Mechanical Rocker
Category

Antique 19th Century American Aesthetic Movement

Jewish Captives at Babylon by American Painter Edward Harrison May
By Edward Harrison May
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Paint

Pair of 19th c. Filigree Wicker Fan Back Arm Chairs
By Colt
Category

Antique 19th Century American Victorian

Materials

Velvet, Wicker

Important 19th C. American Steer Horn Chaise
By Wenzel Friedrich
Category

Antique 19th Century American Rustic

Materials

Leather, Horn

Classic Work Table with Original Brasses
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Mahogany

Early 19th Century Original Surface Child's Chair
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Pine

American Mahogany Classical Swan Sofa, Philadelphia, Circa 1815
Category

Antique 18th Century and Earlier American American Classical

Cherry Corner Chair, Probably New Hampshire, Late 18th Century
Category

Antique 18th Century and Earlier American Chippendale

Materials

Cherry

Mahogany Drop-Leaf Table with Eight Reeded Legs, Probably American, circa 1810
Category

Antique 19th Century American Sheraton

Materials

Mahogany

Unusual Paint Decorated Windsor Writing Armchair, Mid-19th Century, MA
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Wood

American Fancy Painted Grape Vine Spindle Bench . Baltimore , Circa 1820
Category

Antique 1820s American American Colonial

Materials

Paint, Wood

60" 19th Century American Hooked Rug Framed
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Early American Silver Salt and Pepper Service
Category

Antique 18th Century American

Materials

Sterling Silver

Log Cabin in Stars Quilt
Category

Antique 19th Century American

19th Century American Water Gilt Gold Hand-Carved Eagle
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Pair of American Eagle Gilt Carved Wood Girandole Mirrors, Circa 1800
Category

Antique Early 1800s American American Colonial

Materials

Bronze

Charleston Classical Hepplewhite Mahogany & Satinwood Inlaid Sideboard. C. 1790
Category

Antique 1790s American American Colonial

Materials

Brass

Rare Hoofed Queen Anne Pembroke Table
Category

Antique Mid-18th Century American Queen Anne

Materials

Mahogany

Monumental and Important 19th c. New York Harbor Panorama
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Colonial

Materials

Paint

Early American Turned Burl Bowl
By Unknown
Category

Antique 1790s American American Craftsman

Materials

Birch

Monumental Overmantel or Pier Mirror in the Aesthetic Taste
Category

Antique 19th Century American Aesthetic Movement

Materials

Mirror, Pine

Recumbent Dog Hooked Rug
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Wool

Early American Hooked Rug
Category

20th Century American

Materials

Wool

Patent Timepiece Banjo Clock, Providence, RI by Walter H. Durfee, circa 1900
By Walter Durfee
Category

Early 20th Century American Neoclassical

Materials

Mahogany

Caesar's Crown Quilt
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Cotton

Cherry Candle Stand with Drawer, CT, circa 1780
Category

Antique Late 18th Century American Queen Anne

Materials

Cherry

Rare Swiveling Windsor Stool in Black Paint
Category

Antique 19th Century

American Federal Bostonian Game Table , circa 1815
Category

Antique 19th Century American Federal

Materials

Brass, Ormolu

Pair of American Gilt Bronze and Crystal Argand Lamps, Philadelphia. Circa 1820
Category

Antique 1820s American American Empire

Materials

Crystal, Bronze, Bronze

"Variable Stars" Pieced Antique Quilt.
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Cotton