Americana and Folk Art

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Americana and Folk Art

America (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.

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38 Star Colorado Statehood Flag
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques
38 Star Colorado Statehood Flag
Antique 1870s American Political and Patriotic Memorabilia
38 star American national parade flag, printed on coarse, glazed cotton. The stars are arranged in justified rows of 6-6-7-7-6-6. Colorado became the 38th state on August 1st, 1876. Thi...
Early American Silver Coffee Pot
S. J. Shrubsole
Early American Silver Coffee Pot
Daniel C. Fueter
Antique Mid-18th Century American American Colonial Sterling Silver
Sterling Silver
Engraved "T. J. Gardner", marked under base with maker's mark and "N.York". This piece is very close in style to coffee pots by Myer Myers. This is not surprising because, as David B...
Pair of Restoration Rosewood Grecian Recamier Couc...
Duncan Phyfe
Antique 1830s American Federal Chaise Longues
Rosewood
Attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1770-1854) or D. Phyfe & Sons (active 1837-1840), New York, 1835-1840. Each with undulating veneered crest rail terminating in two scrolls with concentri...
Excellent Massachusetts Schoolgirl Sampler, Dated ...
American More Folk Art
Silk
A faultlessly rendered sampler with a wonderful composition, this includes many beautifully stitched animals, birds, flowering plants and baskets; additionally, excellent bands and bord...
19th Century New England Painted Rocking Chair, Or...
Antique 1840s American Country Painted Furniture
Handsome New England rocker in fine, original yellow paint and decoration and nicely worn mahogany arms. The paint decoration focuses on a handsome bunch of fat grapes, a more unusual s...
19th Century American Walnut Sideboard
M.S. Rau Antiques
19th Century American Walnut Sideboard
Antique 19th Century American Renaissance Sideboards
Walnut
Sumptuous carvings distinguish this fine 19th century American walnut sideboard. Crafted in the Renaissance style, this grand furnishing boasts four beautifully hand-carved lion masks t...
19th Century Storage Box with Caricatures of Linco...
Antique Late 19th Century American Folk Art Boxes
Brass, Wood
Storage Box Caricatures of Lincoln/Douglas Debate Region: American Circa: 2nd half 19th Century Material: Pine, brass hinges and clasp, dark brown stain Dimension: L. 12” x...
Rare Patriotic Presidential Applique Quilt from 19...
Early 20th Century American Quilts
Cotton
This is such a fine example of Americana at its best. This fantastic applique quilt has the profile of George Washington and Abe Lincoln along with the Uncle Sam hat and the Patriotic s...
Continuous Brace-Back Windsor Armchair
Antique 18th Century and Earlier Armchairs
New York, circa 1785-1795. Having a hoop-back supported by spindles and a brace back with a shaped saddle seat supported by bulbous turned legs.
Pair Of Robin's Egg Blue-painted Benches
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques
Pair Of Robin's Egg Blue-painted Benches
Antique 19th Century American Painted Furniture
PAIR OF ROBIN’S EGG BLUE-PAINTED BENCHES FROM A PORTICO ON AN 1890’S HOME IN CAANAN, NEW YORK: Rare pair of matching high-back settle benches, made circa 1890, found on the front por...
Benjamin Greenleaf Portrait of Mrs. Nancy Wyman-Ho...
Antique Early 19th Century American Paintings
Portrait of Mrs. Nancy Wyman-Houghton. Unsigned, circa 1810-1815. Reverse painting on glass. Measures: 19 1/2" x 14 1/2" framed Condition: Some lifting of paint on glass, some paint...
Hepplewhite Mahogany, Birch Inlaid Chest of Drawer...
Antique Early 19th Century American Hepplewhite Commodes and Chests of Draw...
Birch, Mahogany
This is an interesting chest with the full complement of inlays seen on the highly developed school of Portsmouth chests that usually have French feet. (See image below from Levy’s in s...
Elaborate Silk Banner with Gilded Text of George W...
Early 20th Century American Political and Patriotic Memorabilia
ELABORATE SILK BANNER WITH GILDED TEXT, SPECTACULAR BULLION TRIM, AND A BEAUTIFULLY PAINTED RENDITION OF GEORGE WASHINGTON'S FAMOUS "PRAYER AT VALLEY FORGE", MADE FOR THE PATRIOTIC ORDE...
Pair Exceptional Paint-Decorated Windsor Chairs, P...
Antique 19th Century American Folk Art Painted Furniture
Wood
Pair of side chairs with outstanding original paint decoration, black and red faux grain with gold and green grape and leaf decoration; the legs are bamboo-turned. Massachusetts, probab...
Important Federal Inlaid Mahogany Tambour Cylinder...
John Aitken
American Federal Secretaires
Mahogany, Rosewood
IMPORTANT FEDERAL INLAID MAHOGANY TAMBOUR CYLINDAR SECRETARY BOOKCASE Attributed to John Aitken (1770-1814) Philadelphia, c.1798 In two parts: the upper case with projecting cornic...
Pair of Restauration Lotus Carved Rosewood Side Ch...
Duncan Phyfe
Antique 1830s American Neoclassical Side Chairs
Rosewood, Upholstery
Attributed to Phyfe & Sons (1837-1840) or D. Phyfe & Son (1840-1847), New York circa 1835-1840. The oxbow shaped crest rail above a vertical central carved and pierced splat above a...
Sculptural Tramp Art Pedestal Box with Drawer
Clifford A. Wallach Tramp Art, Folk Art & Americana
Sculptural Tramp Art Pedestal Box with Drawer
Antique 1890s American Boxes
Wood
A fine Tramp Art deeply layered pedestal box with a drawer and delicate diamond embellishment. Exhibiting a superb sculptural presence, circa 1890s-1900.
Exceptional Carved and Painted Neoclassical Countr...
Antique 19th Century American Folk Art Settees
Fine neoclassical country settee with carved and painted decoration throughout, and turned legs. A rare form. Probably made in Vermont, circa 1830; original finish and paint, updated up...
Mahogany Classical Worktable, American, c.1850
Antique 19th Century American End Tables
Mahogany
This table is in fine, undisturbed condition with the keyhole retaining its original; ivory escutcheon. The mahogany on the top and apron is of a beautiful faded, crotch mahogany. The m...
Mahogany Sheraton or Federal Upholstered Open Armc...
Antique 19th Century American Sheraton Armchairs
Mahogany
This is a Provincial example of the lolling chair form and is delicately executed throughout. Note the baluster shaped front legs and the stylized arm supports which lend a feeling of g...
42 Star Flag Arranged in a Rare Variation of a Not...
Antique 19th Century Political and Patriotic Memorabilia
42 STARS ARRANGED IN A RARE VARIATION OF A NOTCHED DESIGN, WITH SPACES FOR 3 MORE STARS ON BOTH THE HOIST AND FLY ENDS, AN UNOFFICIAL STAR COUNT, WASHINGTON STATEHOOD, 1889-1890, SIGNED...
Fine Miniature, American Classical Mahogany Chest ...
Antique 19th Century American American Classical Commodes and Chests of Dra...
This is a very fine American Classical (Late Federal) Mahogany Chest of Drawers, a Salesman's Sample of Miniature dimensions. It is crafted of solid mahogany (top, sides, drawer fronts,...
19th Century Original Dark Green Painted Pantry Bo...
Unknown
Antique Late 19th Century American Folk Art Primitives
Wood
These grungy green 19th century original painted pantry boxes were found in New England and are being sold as a stack. The condition are good and sturdy, however the largest of the stac...
American Folk Art Pine Tree and Shaker Style House...
Massachusetts Iron Works
Early 20th Century American Folk Art Andirons
MASSACHUSETTS IRON WORKS Saugus area Pine Tree and Shaker Style House andirons circa 1920s Cast and hand finished iron with a natural black/brown patina. This pair of extraord...
Chippendale Secretaire
Jeffrey Tillou Antiques
Chippendale Secretaire
Antique 18th Century and Earlier American Chippendale Secretaires
Colchester, Connecticut, circa 1770-1785. Cherry, eastern white pine secondary In a desirable diminutive size, this two part secretary has a wonderful carved broken arch pediment with d...
New Hampshire Settee
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques
New Hampshire Settee
Antique 19th Century American Settees
NEW HAMPSHIRE SETTEE, FOUND IN THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IN THE TOWN OF DOVER, CA 1800: This marvelous, country windsor settee was recently found in the basement of the public library in Do...
Set of Four Sterling Candlesticks by Black, Starr,...
Black, Starr & Frost
Antique 19th Century American Beaux Arts Candle Holders
Sterling Silver
Made by the prestigious American silversmiths Black, Starr, & Frost — founded in New York in the early nineteenth century — these four beaux-arts candlesticks are made from hand-chased ...
Rare Carved Mahogany Upholstered Classical Armchai...
Antique Early 19th Century American American Classical Armchairs
This is an interesting chair. The wood is heavy, dark, dense mahogany and is very heavy. The arms and their supports are beautifully crafted, as are the legs. Of particular interest is ...
Classical Mahogany Settee, Brass Inlay, Dolphin Fe...
Antique 19th Century American American Classical Settees
Brass, Mahogany
This settee is an absolute knockout. It is a tour de force of the classical motifs of the day, hand-carved and fully embellished. Starting from the top, note the beautiful carved scroll...
American Mahogany and Églomisé Banjo Clock, E. ...
Antique 1860s American American Empire Clocks
American mahogany and églomisé banjo clock with original signed and numeral paper dial under glass, decorative painted and gilt throat panel, with a hinged painted and gilt door conce...
Portrait Attributed to Mary E. Yorke
Jeffrey Tillou Antiques
Portrait Attributed to Mary E. Yorke
Antique Late 19th Century American American Classical Paintings
Portrait of the Sloop Yacht "Defyer" Sailing in New York Bay. Unsigned, New York, late 19th century. Oil on canvas, original carved gilt and gesso shadow-box frame. Dimensions: 20 1/...
Rustic Cane Group and Early Stand, 19th Century
Antique 19th Century North American More Folk Art
Iron, Lead, Wood
Rustic Cane Group and early Stand Region: Northeast Rural American Circa: 19th Century Material: Wood, iron ferrules, lead Dimension: Approximately 32 to 38 inches Condi...
Cherry Federal Tilt-Top Table with Shaped Top, New...
Antique 19th Century American Dessert Tables and Tilt-top Tables
Cherry
This table has beautiful lines with feet that seem to go on forever. The shaft is a slender baluster form and the top, in general oval form. This is a very delicate table with cherry th...
Federal Mahogany Mirror with Eglomise Panel, Ameri...
Antique 19th Century American Federal Mirrors
Federal mirror in mahogany frame with excellent cornice molding and outstanding turned pilasters. Fine eglomise (reverse paint on glass) painting of a woman on a stage in vibrant colors...
Pair of Substantial and Iconic American Wood Carve...
Unknown
Antique 19th Century American Folk Art Sculptures
Wood
Terrific find! A wonderful pair of carved architectural American eagles. Found on the east coast and were said to have originally been part of a circa 1876 Federal building in St. Louis...
Classical Carved Mahogany Sideboard with Busts of ...
Edward Priestley
Antique 1820s American American Classical Serving Tables
Mahogany
Baltimore or Philadelphia, 1815-1825. The broken-front wooden top with a shallow back splash on three sides above a conforming case with three cock-beaded drawers with cut-glass knob...
Classical Carved and Gilt Stencilled Mahogany Cent...
Antique 1820s American American Classical Center Tables
Mahogany, Marble
With figured marble inset top, New York, circa 1825. The circular top with dark figured marble inset held by a wood frame, above a conforming apron with three large foliate gilt-ste...
Carved Mahogany Mechanical Armchair, circa 1830
Thomas Cook
Antique 1830s American American Classical Lounge Chairs
Mahogany, Upholstery
Possibly by Cook & Parkin (active1819-1833). Philadelphia, circa 1830. The lotus-carved arched crest rail above a beaded frame holding an upholstered back, hinged at the base, allow...
Chippendale Wingback Chair, circa 1780
Antique 18th Century and Earlier American Chippendale Wingback Chairs
Probably Massachusetts, ca. 1780. Mahogany, pine secondary wood Condition: Frame is all original with some replaced blocking and structural reinforcement. This wing chair has many f...
American Copper Full Bodied Horse Weathervane
Golden & Associates Antiques
American Copper Full Bodied Horse Weathervane
J.W. Fiske & Company
Antique 19th Century American Weathervanes
American copper full bodied running horse weathervane with Zinc head and mounted on iron bracket. Attributed to J.W. Fiske and Co. (ACTIVE 1870-1893), New York. Dealers please call f...
Wood Cut-Out Hand Pointing to the Heavens
American Primitive Gallery
Wood Cut-Out Hand Pointing to the Heavens
Unknown
Antique 1890s American More Folk Art
Wood
Unusual architectural piece with a cut-out pointing hand in a heart. This architectural piece hung down from the peak of a Victorian house with a form sometimes referred to as a Hand of...
Early 19th Century New England Painted Mantel and ...
Antique 1820s American Folk Art Painted Furniture
Pine
Large, architectural pine mantel with stepped long-leaf pine shelf and excellent details columns, moldings and tombstone registers. The summer cover was made for it, but slightly later,...
Classical Tilt-Top Center Table
Spurgeon Lewis Antiques
Classical Tilt-Top Center Table
Antique 19th Century American American Classical Center Tables
Brass, Ebony, Gold, Mahogany, Ormolu, Pine
This New York table has a stunning flame mahogany veneered top laid in pie wedge sections to create a wonderful sunburst effect. Ormolu mounts adorn the base. Additional subtle decorati...
34 Star Parade Flag with Endearing Wear from Obvio...
Antique 1860s American Political and Patriotic Memorabilia
34 stars with scattered orientation on a rare, large-scale, civil war period parade flag with endearing wear from obvious extended use, kansas statehood, 1861-1863: 34 star American...
Fine Carved Lyre Mahogany Window Seat, NY, Earnest...
Antique 19th Century American Neoclassical Benches
Mahogany
As Peter Kenny talks about in his recent book on Duncan Phyfe: without Hagen, we wouldn't know of Phyfe and his work. It seems Hagen bought Phyfe's tools, etc. and continued to make Phy...
Am. Classical Gilt Mantel Mirror
Antique 19th Century American American Classical Mantel Mirrors and Firepla...
Gesso, Mirror
An American Classical Mantel Mirror with robustly carved acanthus corners, maintains brilliant and unrestored gilt frame
Hepplewhite Shield Back Mahogany Armchair
Jeffrey Tillou Antiques
Hepplewhite Shield Back Mahogany Armchair
Antique 18th Century and Earlier American Hepplewhite Armchairs
circa 1790-1795. A fine Hepplewhite shield back mahogany armchair having carved stiles and rolled arms on tapered legs with spade feet.
Pair of Knuckle Arm Windsors
Just Folk
Pair of Knuckle Arm Windsors
Antique 18th Century and Earlier American Windsor Chairs
Maple, Hickory, Paint
Knuckle Arm Sack Back Windsors Massachusetts Maple with hickory spindles.Turned legs. Original green under paint with black over paint.
Set of Ten 19th Century Prints of American Propert...
Unknown
Antique 1890s American American Colonial Prints
Absolutely beautifully done images removed from a book featuring colonial American homesteads printed in 1896. These prints were temporarily mounted into mats for protection several yea...
American Federal Period Cast Iron Eagle
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques
American Federal Period Cast Iron Eagle
Antique 1810s American Political and Patriotic Memorabilia
This cast iron eagle is one of the earliest sculptural forms that one will encounter in the marketplace. It is also one of the most attractive and iconic depictions of what some America...
Federal/Hepplewhite Mahogany Mirror, Flowered Urn ...
American Hepplewhite Wall Mirrors
Mahogany
This mirror, retaining its early glass, is in a fine state of preservation and is complete in all its parts. These mirrors are very delicate and often lose their embellishments. The sur...
Early American Silver Teapot
S. J. Shrubsole
Early American Silver Teapot
Unknown
American Sterling Silver
Boston, circa 1790, by Ebenezer Moulton. Both sides with monogram EH to JD. Provenance: Jonathan Trace, May 1996. Exhibited: Seattle Art Museum, Shaker Exhibition, October 5, 2...
Pennsylvania Backgammon Board, Signed "Wise"
Antique 19th Century American Game Boards
Found near the town of Milford, in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania, is one of the best painted backgammon boards that I’ve ever encountered. Made ca 1870-1880, this is an unusually...
SIX Padauk Klismos Dining Chairs
Antiquario Villas and Cottages
SIX Padauk Klismos Dining Chairs
Anthony Gabriel Quervelle
Antique Early 19th Century American American Classical Dining Room Chairs
Padouk
Six gadroon crested padauk klismos sabre-legged dining chairs, with hand-stitched needlepoint slip seats in mint condition. Attributed to Antoine Gabriel Quervelle, French trained Phila...
Early Sheraton and Federal Mahogany Tall Post Bed
Stanley Weiss Collection
Early Sheraton and Federal Mahogany Tall Post Bed
Antique 18th Century and Earlier American Sheraton Beds
Mahogany
This is a tall bed and makes an impressive statement, no doubt, for a large-scale Philadelphia house. Slightly taller than most of this type, it has earlier square tapered legs and not ...
Steer Weathervane
Jeffrey Tillou Antiques
Steer Weathervane
Antique 19th Century American Folk Art Weathervanes
Copper
Attributed to Cushing & White, Waltham, Massachusetts. Ca. 1875-1890 Full-body copper, copper tubing. Excellent condition, untouched original verdigris surface 23 3/4"h x 30 1/2"w
Garden Maze Quilt with Wild Goose Chase Border
Stella Rubin
Garden Maze Quilt with Wild Goose Chase Border
Antique 1850s American Quilts
Cotton
This early garden maze quilt is done with the richest of colors. The deep indigo is beautifully offset by the wonderful and unusual rose printed fabric. It is nicely quilted with circle...
Restoration Grecian or Recamier Couch, circa 1835
Duncan Phyfe
Antique 1830s American Federal Chaise Longues
Mahogany
New York, circa 1835. The undulating veneered crest rail terminating in a scroll with a characteristic rimmed disk boss above an upholstered back and seat with a scrolled arm at one ...
Antique Hooked American Rug
Nazmiyal
Antique Hooked American Rug
Antique 19th Century American North and South American Rugs
Wool
This spectacular antique American hooked rug features a grand latticework frame with beautifully executed ribbons that are carefully braided together in a stunning under-over pattern. S...
S.R. Boyce "Horse and Sulky with Rider" Painting
Antique 19th Century American Folk Art Paintings
Canvas
American School Horse and Sulky with Rider Signed (l.l.): S.R. Boyce, 1876 This wonderful composition of a Horse and Sulky with Rider on a track with a lake view in the background is...