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Americana and Folk Art Antiques and Collectibles

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.

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Rare George Hunzinger Rocking Chair with Patented Steel Webbing, 1869
By George Hunzinger
Located in Bridgeport, CT
Fine form and condition, with one broken strap and geometric moulding at upper right missing. The back with the wire webbing flanked by bamboo form frame, and bold swirled arms with ...
Category

19th Century American American Craftsman Antique Americana and Folk Art Antiques and Collectibles

George Hunzinger Mechanical Rocker
Located in Hudson, NY
Contabt Dealer
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19th Century American Aesthetic Movement Antique Americana and Folk Art Antiques and Collectibles

Hand-Made Pair of Boston Rockers for Mother and Child
Located in Asheville, NC
This adorable pair of mother and child Boston Rockers are wonderful examples of timeless American furniture form. At the back of the chairs there are seven turned spindles topped wit...
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19th Century American Antique Americana and Folk Art Antiques and Collectibles

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Maple, Pine, Hickory

American Walnut Rocking Chair with Rush Seat. Circa 1870-80
Located in Charleston, SC
American Walnut rocking chair with rush seat. Circa 1870-80
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19th Century American Antique Americana and Folk Art Antiques and Collectibles

Ornate Wicker Platform Rocking Chair
By Heywood-Wakefield Co.
Located in New York, NY
Attributed to the Heywood Brothers, this American natural wicker high back platform rocking chair featuring an upholstered seat cushion as well as ornate details such as woven rolled...
Category

19th Century American Victorian Antique Americana and Folk Art Antiques and Collectibles

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Upholstery, Wicker

Primitive American Side Chair and Rocking Chair
Located in Buchanan, MI
Charming 19th century primative rocking chair and side chair with green painted finish. Priced per each chair.
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19th Century American Antique Americana and Folk Art Antiques and Collectibles

Materials

Wood

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