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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.

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

Early American Ingrain Rug, 1840's
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Craftsman

Materials

Wool

Cupid Directs Young Lovers Toward Shore, Folk Watercolor, 1817
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Watercolor, Gouache

Rare Large Pedestal Mahogany Classical Harvest Table
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Mahogany

Carved Mahogany Classical Recamier, Boston, circa 1830
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Mahogany

Fine Narrow Classical Secretaire Bookcase, New York
Category

Antique 19th Century American Regency

Materials

Mahogany

American Victorian Mantel Pier Mirror
Category

Antique 19th Century American Victorian

Materials

Giltwood, Mirror

Maple William & Mary Bannister Back Armchair, Massachusetts, circa 1740-1750
Category

Antique Mid-18th Century American William and Mary

Materials

Maple

Maple William & Mary Dish-Top Candlestand
Category

Antique 18th Century and Earlier

Materials

Maple

19th Century American Hobby Horse Rocker
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Wood, Parchment Paper, Paint

Gothic Mahogany Burl and Rosewood Tall Case Clock
Category

Antique 19th Century American Gothic Revival

Materials

Mahogany

19th c. American Empire Carved Canterbury or Magazine Rack
Category

Antique 19th Century American Empire

Materials

Gold Leaf

Carved Mahogany Classical Sofa with Curule Legs, New York
Category

Antique 19th Century American Neoclassical

Mahogany Classical Lyre Side Chair, Duncan Phyfe, New York, circa 1815
By Duncan Phyfe
Category

Antique 19th Century American Neoclassical

Materials

Mahogany, Upholstery

19th Century American Oil Painting of a Gentleman
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Canvas

American Maple Tilt Tea Table
By A. Belokopytoff
Category

Antique 18th Century and Earlier American

Portrait of Elizabeth Van Dyck Vosburg by Pieter Vanderlyn (The Gansevoort Limne
By Gansevoort Limner
Category

Antique 18th Century and Earlier American Folk Art

Materials

Canvas

Rufus Porter Mural from New Hampshire Tavern
By Rufus Porter
Category

Antique 19th Century American Folk Art

Highly Figured Mahogany Classical Card Table on Saber Legs, Salem, circa 1820
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Mahogany

Tiffany Studios New York American "Lava" Vase
By Tiffany Studios
Category

Early 20th Century American Art Nouveau

Materials

Art Glass

Fine Mahogany Neoclassical Card Table
Category

Antique 19th Century American Neoclassical

Materials

Mahogany

Childs Riding Horse
Category

Antique 19th Century American Folk Art

Materials

Wood

19-Drawer Hand Stenciled Apothecary
Category

Antique 19th Century American Folk Art

Materials

Wood

Barnraising Log Cabin Quilt
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Cotton, Wool

Pair of Heartback Hepplewhite Chairs
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Mahogany

Lowboy with Shell, Claw and Ball Feet, Philadelphia, circa 1740
Category

Antique 1740s American Queen Anne

Materials

Mahogany

19th Century Painted Ship Weathervane on Iron Stand
Category

Antique 19th Century American Folk Art

Materials

Iron

American Mahogany Game Table. Circa 1790
Category

Antique 18th Century and Earlier American

American Mahogany Acanthus Upholstered Sofa with Brass Casters. Boston, C. 1780
Category

Antique 1780s American American Colonial

Materials

Brass

Mahogany Queen Anne Breakfast or Dining Table, Drawer, Slipper Feet, RI
Category

Antique Mid-18th Century American Queen Anne

Materials

Mahogany

Carved Mahogany Classical Drop-Leaf Table, Phyfe School, New York
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Mahogany

American Mahogany Pembroke. Rhode Island. Circa 1790
Category

Antique 18th Century and Earlier American

Pair of American Brass Intertwined Dolphin & Ship Andirons. Circa 1840
Category

Antique 1840s American American Empire

Materials

Brass, Wrought Iron

Sofa Table
By Duncan Phyfe
Category

Antique 19th Century American Neoclassical

Materials

Brass

Diminutive Chippendale Three-Drawer Chest on Claw and Ball Feet
Category

Antique Late 18th Century American Chippendale

Materials

Mahogany

Antique Quilt: Lemon Peel
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Cotton

Monumental Neoclassical Mahogany Linen Press, Southern
Category

Antique 19th Century American Neoclassical

Materials

Mahogany

Economy Patch Quilt
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Cotton

Mahogany Banjo Clock
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Mahogany

Very Rare Signed William & Mary Chest of Drawers
By William Beakes
Category

Antique 18th Century and Earlier American

Materials

Walnut

Set of Four Carved Classical Side Chairs, New York
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Mahogany

Red Painted Walnut Slant Lid Standing Desk, Probably Pennsylvania, circa 1840
Category

Antique Mid-19th Century American Sheraton

Materials

Walnut

American Breakfront Bookcase "Library Bookcase with Wings"
By Unknown
Category

Antique 19th Century American Neoclassical

Materials

Glass, Mahogany, Wood

Classical Mahogany Armchair, French Restoration Taste, Boston
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Damask, Mahogany

American Gilded Mirror
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Mirror

LeMoyne Stars and Maple Leaves Quilt
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Cotton

String Stars Quilt
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Cotton

19th Century Needle Point
Category

Antique 19th Century British

Rare Classical Federal Upholstered Armchair, Mahogany, New York
Category

Antique 19th Century American Federal

Materials

Mahogany, Upholstery

Gilt Stenciled Classical Card Table, Labeled by Rawson
Category

Antique 19th Century American American Classical

Materials

Mahogany

19th Century Mahogany Game Table With Elaborate Carved Base
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Mahogany, Satinwood

13-Star Eagle American Ship Swallow-Tailed Pennant Flag.
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Cotton, Wool

American Poplar Greek Key & Sunburst Fire Place Mantel . Circa 1820
Category

Antique 1820s American American Empire

Materials

Poplar, Wood

Rare Wooden Harness Horse
Category

Antique 19th Century American

Materials

Paint, Wood

Mahogany Porringer Tea Table, Queen Anne, Newport
Category

Antique Mid-18th Century American Queen Anne

Materials

Mahogany