Just about any culture with paper has a form of paper-cutting decoration, but establishing much of the history is tricky because of the fragile, ephemeral nature of paper. Still, we know that China and Japan were practicing paper-cutting very early, and the usage depends on the culture. In Japan, paper-cutting was used to create decorations for the home, while in Jewish and Eastern European cultures, the cuttings often had a religious theme. The [...] Click here to continue reading.
In the 1810s, a group of German religious separatists left Wurttemberg in what is now southwestern Germany, after several decades of separation from the primary church in the region, the Lutheran Church. After years of persecution and oppression which included imprisonment and property seizures, the separatists, under the leadership of Joseph Bimeler (sometimes Baumeler), decided to flee to the United States in the hopes that they could establish a new community there.
One [...] Click here to continue reading.
Clementine Hunter (1887 to 1988)
Clementine Hunter (pronounced Clementeen) was born to Creole parents, Antoinette Adams and Janvier Reuben, in late December of 1886 or early January of 1887 at Hidden Hill Plantation near Cloutierville, Louisiana. Hunter would never learn to read or write, later saying she only had about ten days of schooling, and was put to work in the fields when she was very young. At 15, she left Hidden Hill, which [...] Click here to continue reading.
Apocryphal – Definition
Apocryphal, the adjective form, means “of doubtful authenticity,” according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Apocrypha, the noun form, means “writings or statements of dubious authenticity,” again according to Merriam-Webster.
Apocrypha is actually a Greek word that means something closer to “obscure” or “hidden away.” The original meaning of the word, the Apocrypha in the proper noun sense, refers to religious texts outside of the traditional or accepted religious canon. Through connection with [...] Click here to continue reading.
The Sarcophagus in Decorative Arts
Derived from the Greek sarx, meaning flesh, and phagein, meaning eat, a sarcophagus is, essentially, a container for a body, much like a coffin or casket. Historically, sarcophagi were typically made of stone (though sometimes of other materials, such as wood or metal), with a relief-carved or pediment top, and designed to be above ground, and have been used by many cultures since ancient times.
An ancient [...] Click here to continue reading.
Elijah Pierce (1892 to 1984)
Elijah Pierce was born on March 5, 1892 on a Mississippi farm, the son of a former slave. After receiving a pocketknife from his father, Elijah began carving. It might not have amounted to much without the guidance of his uncle, Lewis Wallace, who helped him learn the basics, like choosing the right kind of wood for a project. By the age of seven, he was carving small animals [...] Click here to continue reading.
Cartouche – Definition
The decorative arts world has many â€œsquishyâ€ and vague vocabulary words, but few are â€œsquishierâ€ and vaguer than cartouche. Originally, the term comes from Egyptology and is used to describe a oval enclosing hieroglyphics and having a horizontal line at one end. (The line denotes royalty.) The oval had significance not unlike that of a closed circle, in that it was believed that an oval around a personâ€™s name provided protection [...] Click here to continue reading.
Scandal & the Story of Bakelite Bakelite hit the market in 1907, heralding the arrival of the modern plastics industry. Bakelite was the first completely man made plastic, as until then, plastics such as celluloid, casein, and Gutta-Percha all had as a base a natural material. It was developed by Belgian-born chemist Dr. Leo Hendrick Baekeland who started his firm General Bakelite Company to produce the phenolic resin type plastic. Bakelite was inexpensive [...] Click here to continue reading.
The objects in this collection evoke a brief moment, barely a century long, when Times Square, the “Crossroads of the World,” was defined by neon, that glorious and now almost extinct medium that for many years was the supersign’s soul.
Neon spectaculars, examples of which you will find in this auction, represent a golden age of handmade industrial artistry, lost now to digitalization and prefab vinyl displays, but of ever-growing interest, due [...] Click here to continue reading.
Baleen, Plastic of the 18th Century
Baleen comes from a suborder of whales, Mysticeti, which includes, among others, humpback whales, gray whales, right whales and blue whales. What sets these whales apart is baleen. These whales do not have teeth, but have upper jaws filled with two rows of baleen plates fringed with fine baleen hair. These plates are so closely aligned that they act like a comb or a sieve; whales pull water [...] Click here to continue reading.