Artists’ Handmade Paper Dolls

One day I decided to hunt our Waldron Collection for handmade paper dolls by known or professional women artists. My interest was piqued after using illustrator Frances Brundage’s paper dolls from the 1890s set “Children from Many Lands,” sold by Raphael Tuck & Sons, in a library exhibit, and I hoped to find dolls that artists may have created for their own amusement. “Little Women” fans know of the paper dolls played with by the Alcott sisters, presumably made by Louisa May Alcott’s younger sister May Alcott, later known for her still life paintings. After all, creating paper dolls is an entertaining way to practice rendering poses, facial expressions, and clothing.

Sarah Goodridge’s self-portrait, 1829. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia, posted originally on Flickr as Miniature Painting, Sarah Goodridge: Self Portrait by freeparking

Our Waldron Collection database lists dolls made by Sarah Goodridge (1788–1853). What a find, for while not now a household name, miniature painter Goodridge (sometimes Goodrich) was a respected artist sought after by many famous people in the early 1800s. A humble beginning that began with first self-instruction and then evolved to training by an unidentified miniature painter, propelled her to open her own studio in Boston in 1820 and take lessons from Gilbert Stuart, the foremost American portraitist.  In several years, she was in regular demand by not only her former teacher Stuart but other notables such as China trader Russell Sturgis, newspaper publisher and author Isaiah Thomas, and Senator Daniel Webster.

Upon looking at the several dolls and various outfits attributed to Goodridge with our cataloger Laura Parrish, it was immediately apparent that at least two sets of hands, and maybe a few more, created them because while all the dolls are of a similar size between 2 and 3 inches, the clothing styles date from two different time periods. Mrs. Waldron, the collection’s donor, thankfully kept a 1940 letter by a Goodridge descendant’s husband stating one set was made by Sarah Goodridge, the other by her great niece Martha Harris Appleton Brown (1843–1919).

The first set contains one doll with four dresses in the high-waisted, slim silhouette style of the early 1810s, and therefore we can safely say made by Goodridge. The dresses have tags meant to be folded over the doll but don’t show much evidence of being played with as the creases aren’t deep. Goodridge was in her 20s at the time, early in her career, but obviously having advanced manual dexterity to execute them. Never having married, Goodridge lived with various siblings throughout most of her life and helped to support them with her artwork. In 1851 she moved in with her sister Beulah for her last two years.  Perhaps she instilled her love of paper dolls in Beulah’s granddaughter Martha and gave instructions on making them.

Doll with 4 dresses. Col. 121, Waldron Collection, Winterthur Library

Doll in 1810s dress. Col. 121, Waldron Collection, Winterthur Library

The second set consists of several dolls, four girls, a boy, and a baby, with around 36 costumes. The fashions are from the early 1860s and support the statement that Brown made them. The back of one dress shows the paper was cut from an 1862 published report. Instead of sporting tags like the Goodridge clothing, these costumes were designed showing fronts and backs with slits at the neck to be placed over a doll’s head. Interestingly, most slits aren’t large enough to fit over the dolls’ heads—was this an error in craftsmanship or were these meant to be admired and not played with? While most dolls and clothing appear to be drawn by the same hand, a few don’t display the same level of skill and precision. The eldest of seven children, perhaps Martha used paper dolls as an activity with her younger siblings making most, but not all of the examples. While we can never say with utmost certainty who created these dolls, they were lovingly preserved for several generations of the family and now by us for all to admire.

Dolls with early 1860s outfits. Col. 121, Waldron Collection, Winterthur Library

Dolls with early 1860s outfits. Col. 121, Waldron Collection, Winterthur Library

Doll and dresses, with too-small slit in the green dress. Col. 121, Waldron Collection, Winterthur Library

This is the second post in a series about paper dolls housed in the Winterthur Library’s Maxine Waldron Collection of Children’s Books and Paper Toys.

Post by Jeanne Solensky, Librarian, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Winterthur Library

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The History of Little Paper Dolls

It may seem incongruous that a renowned research library for the study of American decorative arts has an outstanding collection of paper dolls. This extensive and greatly used collection was donated in the 1970s and 1980s by Maxine Waldron, art teacher, amateur artist, and enthusiastic doll collector.  Miraculously surviving despite the medium’s fragility, these paper dolls offer much information to today’s researchers on fashion history and changing attitudes toward childhood. The collection spans several centuries and includes an assortment of dolls, such as handmade and printed dolls as well as ones from advertising, newspapers and magazines, and ones of well-known figures. The collection also includes dolls accompanied by boxes, books, cloth costumes, and greeting cards. Several sets from the late 1700s and early 1800s were fashion plates and not intended for children’s play.

The History of Little Fanny booklet. Col. 121, Waldron Collection, Winterthur Library

Chapter 6 instructions on dressing Fanny. Col. 121, Waldron Collection, Winterthur Library

In 1810, printsellers and stationers Samuel Williams and Joseph Carr Fuller, located at the imaginatively named Temple of Fancy in Rathbone Place, London, published what is believed to be the first commercially printed paper doll intended for children’s use. Known as a toy book, The History of Little Fanny consists of a paper doll, several costume changes, and a small booklet housed in a slipcase. Fanny is not a full-length doll, only a head and bust. When the doll is slipped behind a costume, it measures only 4½ inches tall. Keeping with the early 19th-century notion of children’s toys imparting a much-needed morality tale, the story of Fanny is a lesson in obedience, with instructions on dressing her to symbolize her status in society.

At the beginning of this redemption story, told in couplets, Fanny, dressed in a white frock holding a doll, is a vain, idle child who is more concerned with her fine clothing and amusements than cultivating her mind with books. Rebelling against her mother’s edict forbidding her to unnecessarily wear her new fur-trimmed coat, muff, and bonnet, Fanny skips out of her house with her “wicked maid” only to befall tragedy when a beggar girl robs her of her finery, leaving Fanny in the thief’s tattered clothes. An unidentified woman hires Fanny as an errand girl and she then proceeds to work her way up the chain, first delivering fish, then milk and eggs. Fanny sports several, fairly decent outfits during her travails: a cloak with hat in hand to denote the beggar’s clothing and three dresses and accoutrements appropriate for delivering goods. Her luck changes one day when Fanny is tasked with bringing butter to her mother. Upon recognizing her house and afraid her mother will reject her, Fanny sits on the steps to cry. Her mother, seeing her grief-stricken daughter, folds her into a hug and all is forgiven. The last chapter concludes with a repentant Fanny attired in a modest frock holding a book in hand to reflect her new studious demeanor.

Fanny in an errand girl costume. Col. 121, Waldron Collection, Winterthur Library

This 13-page toy book is targeted to a young audience, so adult readers shouldn’t focus on the gaps in the story (mainly the absence of a timeline that informs the length of Fanny’s suffering). Somewhat puzzling is Fanny’s ignorance of her address. However, most shocking are the lines “Had she but known her mother’s watchful eye/Follow’d her close, and was for ever nigh,” revealing her mother orchestrated or was at least aware of the punishment. This seems to go beyond a lesson in obedience.

Nevertheless, Little Fanny proved to be immensely popular, was reprinted numerous times, and even spawned other iterations. Advertised as the companion to Fanny, The History and Adventures of Little Henry also debuted in 1810 with Ellen, or the Naughty Girl Reclaimed close on its heels the following year. Ellen’s story resembles Fanny’s. It is of a disobedient girl who runs off to play in her nice clothing. The story takes a departure when Ellen falls into a muddy ditch ruining her clothes, thereby angering her father, who sends her to the school in the village kept by Ellen’s nurse. Ellen reacts very badly by throwing a book in the nurse’s face. Resisting her punishment, she runs away to the woods where a gypsy steals her cloak, which forces her into gathering sticks for work. Ellen falls ill, frightening the “cruel” gypsies, and a woman rescues her, nursing her back to health and giving her fruit to sell. Luckily, her mother catches sight of her, and Ellen’s return to grace is completed. This is a more convoluted story than Fanny’s, but at least her mother wasn’t a participant in the punishment.

Ellen in the woods after running away. Col. 121, Waldron Collection, Winterthur Library

Instead of following the same disobedient formula, Henry’s adventures show how cruel fate can alter the course of someone’s life. Born to wealthy parents, baby Henry is left unattended outdoors one day by a careless nursemaid and swooped up by a gypsy. Despite his parents searching for him, Henry is not found and is raised by gypsies until sold to a chimney sweeper. Henry, running away from this life of drudgery, becomes a drummer in a soldier band and then a sailor working his way up to midshipman, respected by all. Somehow his parents finally discover his whereabouts, and a happy reunion takes place.
What strikes me as fascinating in the latter two stories of Ellen and Henry is the appearance of gypsies as an evil force. England’s history of dealing with Gypsies, Romas, and Travellers has always been a contentious one, beginning as early as 1530 under King Henry VIII with laws forbidding them to enter the country or face deportation. Despite the repeal of some anti-Gypsy laws in 1780, the fear still existed with new vagrancy legislation enacted in the 1820s, some of which is still on the books today. These early children’s toy books reflect the anti-Gypsy sentiment of the times, giving readers today another lesson in history not intended by the original creators.

Henry as a midshipman. Col. 121, Waldron Collection, Winterthur Library

This is the first post in a series about paper dolls housed in the Winterthur Library’s Maxine Waldron Collection of Children’s Books and Paper Toys.
Post by Jeanne Solensky, Librarian, Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Winterthur Library

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Extra-Illustrated Books in the Winterthur Library

“Have you Grangerized?” might have been a question asked in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, mostly by people in the United Kingdom and United States. Rev. James Granger (1723–76), an English cleric and print collector, started a fad when in 1769 he published his Biographical History of England, from Egbert the Great to the Revolution. The book is essentially a catalog of portrait prints of noteworthy English people, including royalty, scientists, politicians, and commoners, who had somehow achieved distinction. In Biographical History, Granger supplemented his text with illustrations, incorporating portraits originally published elsewhere, thus creating an extra-illustrated book and beginning an unintended craze that lasted for decades.

Grangerizing was not without its critics. Bibliophiles and their sympathizers decried the destruction of books— books that were dismantled to create extra-illustrated volumes and books that were cut up, so their prints could be harvested for extra-illustrated projects. Englishman of letters, art historian, and antiquarian Horace Walpole went so far as to suggest that Grangerizing was responsible for driving up the price of engravings since publishers produced them expressly for the increasingly popular Grangerizing market. As well, dealers occasionally produced extra-illustrated books with a view to selling them at enhanced prices. Other dealers and collectors clipped signatures from handwritten letters and documents, ruining the originals for all time.

Extra-illustrated books typically include prints, autographs, small pamphlets, maps, original art, and handwritten letters. Many of these items are not special, but occasionally important ones turn up. For example, while assembling an exhibition of extra-illustrated books at the Huntington Library, curators Stephen Tabor and Lori Anne Ferrell discovered a pre-Revolutionary letter George Washington had written to his brother Samuel. It was thought to have been lost. An autograph collector purchased it in 1886 and had it bound in an extra-illustrated book. Henry Huntington acquired the book in 1922.

Winterthur Library’s holdings of extra-illustrated books may be modest in size, but there are noteworthy examples. An edition of The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, has an envelope addressed to a relative of book illustrator Edna Cooke Shoemaker, identifying the owner of the volume. In Description of a Plan for the Improvement of the Central Park, a letter pasted in at the front, addressed to civil engineer Montgomery Meigs, identifies Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux as park planners. And, together with annotations and pencil corrections, Box Furniture: How to Make a Hundred Useful Articles for the Home, by Louise Brigham, has a tipped-in copy of a pamphlet of Brigham’s lectures.

The most impressive extra-illustrated volume in the library, however, is Book of the Artists… (New York: G. P. Putnam & Son, 1867), by Henry T. Tuckerman (1813–71), a Boston-born writer, critic, and essayist. His 639-page single-volume work, monumental enough in its own right, was taken by Alfred Stebbins, a librarian at the San Francisco Mercantile Library Association, and Grangerized into an extra-illustrated two-volume work that includes prints, autographs, and letters from many of the artists portrayed by Tuckerman.

Most of the artists are well known to us today: John Vanderlyn, Thomas Sully, S. F. B. Morse, Asher B. Durand, Thomas Cole, Horatio Greenough, Hiram Powers, Albert Bierstadt, Delawarean F. O. C. Darley, and the list goes on. To supplement Tuckerman’s words, Stebbins contacted the artists to ask for their autographs, engravings of their work, and portrait prints. Many of the artists seemed accustomed to responding to such a request. For example, Thomas Sully wrote: “I did not receive your first letter, which requested my autograph, or would readily have obeyed the request.” Morse went even further, stating that if he discovered autographs of other artists among his papers he would send them along. Daniel Huntington, president of the National Academy of Design, actually did, forwarding a note he had from John Kensett. It took portrait, miniature, and genre painter Louis Lang, who had mislaid Stebbins’s request, a year to respond, but he did.

Thomas Sully

Thomas Sully

Sully2

S. F. B. Morse

S. F. B. Morse

resized morseIllustrator Thomas Nast, known to us today for his iconic Christmas and political images, was perhaps the most generous of all, sending a handwritten reminiscence—unfortunately, now incomplete—about the beginning of his career. In it he wrote about his teenage experiences at Mr. Bryan’s gallery in New York, where he had gone to copy pictures that were on display and where, at 14 years of age, he was hired as doorkeeper. While employed he still copied: “There were seldom more than half a dozen visitors in a day, so that the taking of their money would cause but a very slight interruption to the labors of the young artist.” Two years later, Nast approached newspaper publisher Frank Leslie about a job as a draftsman. “What, my boy, said he [Leslie], so you think you can draw well enough for my paper, do you?” To which Nast responded: “I would like to try.” Leslie then asked Nast to go to the Hoboken, New Jersey, ferry terminal and “bring me a drawing of the scene just as the boat is coming into the dock.” Nast concluded his story by saying, “Mr. Leslie saw at a glance its merits and defects, and at once made a place for him in his establishment, at boy’s wages of five dollars a week.”

Thomas Nast

Thomas Nast

NastAlfred Stebbins’s Grangerized two volumes are part of another collection, that of art historian John Davis Hatch, who collected material documenting the development of American painting. Anyone interested in seeing Stebbins’s books or Hatch’s records should ask for Collection 331 in the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera.

Post by E. Richard McKinstry, Library Director and Andrew W. Mellon Senior Librarian at Winterthur

Additional Reference Information:

James Granger: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Granger

Grangerized books: http://huntington.org/huntingtonlibrary_02.aspx?id=12996

Tuckerman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Theodore_Tuckerman

Book of the artists (not extra-illustrated): http://archive.org/stream/bookofartistsame00tuckerm#page/n7/mode/2up

Thomas Nast: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Nast

Hatch finding aid: http://findingaid.winterthur.org/html/HTML_Finding_Aids/COL0331.htm

Hatch obit: http://www.nytimes.com/1996/06/09/nyregion/john-davis-hatch-museum-director-89.html

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The Remarkable Life and Career of a Free African-American Cabinetmaker

Dressing Bureau attributed to Thomas Day, ca. 1840. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle 2016.0039.

Dressing Bureau attributed to Thomas Day, ca. 1840. Museum purchase with funds provided by the Henry Francis du Pont Collectors Circle 2016.0039.

This mid-19th-century mahogany veneer dressing bureau, one of Winterthur’s newest furniture acquisitions, is a visually striking object with an even more striking history. Although the dresser conforms to popular urban furniture designs of its era (with its distinctive carved bracket feet; whimsical,  pierced looking glass frame; and the open pierced scrolls that flank the front), its maker and his career were highly unusual. The piece was made by the Milton, North Carolina, shop of Thomas Day (1801–1861).

 Thomas Day Historic Marker in front of the Union Tavern in Milton, North Carolina, Thomas Day’s home and workshop. Erected in 1999 by the Division of Archives and History (Marker Number G-93). This particular image taken from http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ncccha/biographies/thomasday.html

Thomas Day Historic Marker in front of the Union Tavern in Milton, North Carolina, Thomas Day’s home and workshop. Erected in 1999 by the Division of Archives and History (Marker Number G-93). This image taken from http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ncccha/biographies/thomasday.html

Tracing this dresser back to Thomas Day tells us an important story about Day, his family, and his exceptional career in the context of the antebellum South. He was a free African-American cabinetmaker, who, at the height of his career in the 1850s, operated the most prosperous furniture business in North Carolina. He was one of very few free African-Americans who found success as a trained artisan, in a period when most free men worked as unskilled laborers or servants. In his workshop were both white and black and free and enslaved workers, and yet he was also a supporter of abolitionist activities. Remarkably, during his lifetime he also earned the patronage and respect of his white southern neighbors. He did this despite the overarching racial tensions of the age and the fear that some power-wielding white Americans felt regarding the growing ranks of free African-Americans in their communities.

Hand-colored lithograph titled “Practical Amalgamation (Musical Soirée),” ca. 1839, by Edward Williams Clay. In the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, 153050. (http://gigi.mwa.org/netpub/server.np?quickfind=153050&sorton=filename&catalog=catalog&site=public&template=results.np)

Hand-colored lithograph titled “Practical Amalgamation (Musical Soirée),” ca. 1839, by Edward Williams Clay. In the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, 153050. http://gigi.mwa.org/netpub/server.np?quickfind=153050&sorton=filename&catalog=catalog&site=public&template=results.np

Several generations of mixed-race unions, where the children born inherited their freedom from their white mothers, established the Day family as members of the South’s growing class of free people of color. Thomas’s father, John Day Sr., was the son of a free black man and a white indentured servant. As an adult, John was trained as a cabinetmaker, and he passed that skillset down to his two sons, John Jr. and Thomas.*

President James Madison’s 1816 membership certificate to the American Colonization Society. The James Madison Papers at the Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/resource/mjm.18_0589_0590/

President James Madison’s 1816 membership certificate to the American Colonization Society. The James Madison Papers at the Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/resource/mjm.18_0589_0590/

The choices made by John Jr. and Thomas exemplify some of the few options available to free men of color in the early 1800s. Although John Jr. did work for a time as a cabinetmaker, in 1821 he began training as a Baptist preacher, and in 1830, he embarked on a new mission. That year he moved his own young family to Africa, to the newly formed free black colony of Liberia. This controversial plan was the brainchild of the American Colonization Society, formed in 1816, founded on the credo that migration and colonization could be the solution to racial unrest in America.

Thomas Day business advertisement, published in the Milton Gazette & Roanoke Advertiser in March 1827. North Carolina Office of Archives and History (although I snagged the better quality digital image from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128849634)

Thomas Day business advertisement, published in the Milton Gazette & Roanoke Advertiser in March 1827. North Carolina Office of Archives and History  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128849634

In contrast, in the 1820s Thomas established himself permanently in the growing mercantile center of Milton, North Carolina, and actively cultivated his social and business ties with his white neighbors. He became a respected member of his community, admired for his work ethic and craftsmanship, and also purportedly light-skinned enough that he could be conceptualized as separate from the larger black community.

The Union Tavern in Milton, North Carolina. Photo by Tim Buchman

The Union Tavern in Milton, North Carolina. Photo by Tim Buchman

That respect ran deep enough that in 1830, Milton’s white community supported him in his legal battle to bring his free African-American bride, Virginia-born Aquilla Wilson, to live with him in North Carolina. An 1826 law banned free people of color from migrating into North Carolina, but a written petition of support signed by 61 white citizens of Milton and Caswell counties gained them an official exemption. Signed by many prominent white citizens, the petition argued that Thomas was a “cabinetmaker by trade, a first rate workman, steady and industrious man,” and above all else, “a highminded, good and valuable citizen.” Thomas Day continued to work in Milton, with his workshop in the Union Tavern building, which still stands on Milton’s main street, until just before his death in 1861.

: Minutes of the Fifth Annual Convention for the Improvement of the Free People of Colour in the United States, 1835. Fully digitized by the University of Delaware’s “Colored Conventions: Bringing Nineteenth-Century Black Organizing to Digital Life,” http://coloredconventions.org/items/show/277.

: Minutes of the Fifth Annual Convention for the Improvement of the Free People of Colour in the United States, 1835. Fully digitized by the University of Delaware’s “Colored Conventions: Bringing Nineteenth-Century Black Organizing to Digital Life,” http://coloredconventions.org/items/show/277.

Contrary to the fact that he himself owned slaves, new research has revealed his secret ties to northern abolitionists. In the spring of 1835, Thomas attended “the Fifth Annual Convention for the Improvement of the Free People of Color in the United States” in Philadelphia, where he most likely met with abolitionists.

It would have been noteworthy that an affluent southern man attended such an event. But for Thomas Day, a free man of color whose position depended upon his careful negotiation of the color line, it was radical. Evidence does suggest that Thomas kept his potential abolitionist sentiments concealed from his southern neighbors, his circumstances forcing him to live a kind of double life. Nevertheless, he did maintain ties to northern abolitionist friends throughout his life and sent his children to be educated at Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, a school run by a Methodist cleric, whom contemporaries described as a “flaming abolitionist.” Thomas Day’s life was complex and contradictory and this dressing bureau provides a fascinating portal through which to glimpse some of the struggles faced by America’s small minority of free people of color prior to the Civil War.

The bureau, along with other recent Winterthur acquisitions, will be on view in the Galleries in the spring 2017. Stay tuned in the coming months for more posts on new acquisitions!

*In the first posting of this blog, the author had reported the tale of Thomas Day’s father John being “born to a white woman and her coach driver.” However, new research by Thomas Day historians Patricia D. Rogers and Laurel C. Sneed has largely discredited this story, popularized in the correspondence of Thomas’s brother, John Day Jr. Their father was likely also of free black Virginia roots, like Thomas Day’s maternal grandparents, the Stewarts. The author kindly thanks Laurel Sneed for her comments and bringing this oversight to her attention.

Post by Nalleli Guillen, Sewell C. Biggs Curatorial Fellow, Museum Collections Department, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

 

References

Berlin, Ira. Slaves without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South. New York: Pantheon Books. 1974

Dunbar, Erica Armstrong. A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2008.

Marshall, Patricia Phillips and Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll. Thomas Day: Master Craftsman and Free Man of Color. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 2010.

Nash, Gary B. Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia’s Black Community, 1720-1840. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1988.

Prown, Jonathan. “The Furniture of Thomas Day: A Reevaluation.” Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 33, No. 4, Race and Ethnicity in American Material Life (Winter, 1998): 215-229.

Rogers, Patricia Dane and Laurel Crone Sneed. “The Missing Chapter in the Life of Thomas Day.” American Furniture (2013): 100-154.

http://thomasday.net

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Traces of Philadelphia in an Early Silkwork Picture

Needlework picture, probably depicting the meeting of Isaac and Rebecca. Attributed to Nancy Ann Carlisle, ca. 1690–1740. Mid-Atlantic region, possibly worked in Philadelphia. Embroidered silk on satin weave silk. Museum purchase with funds provided by Lammot du Pont Copeland (1953.0152.007A). Courtesy Winterthur Museum.

Needlework picture, probably depicting the meeting of Isaac and Rebecca. Attributed to
Nancy Ann Carlisle, ca. 1690–1740. Mid-Atlantic region, possibly worked in Philadelphia.
Embroidered silk on satin weave silk. Museum purchase with funds provided by Lammot
du Pont Copeland (1953.0152.007A). Courtesy Winterthur Museum.

Samplers and needlework pictures can provide a tantalizing sense of connection to early  American history, serving as rare links to the personal experiences of girls and young women of the era. Even more alluring for their mystery are those pieces passed down without signature or documentation, as is the case with a silkwork picture in Winterthur’s collections since the 1950s. Long said by family tradition to have been made in early eighteenth-century rural New Jersey, this elaborate piece is made still more complex by a reinvestigation of its origins.

Both its old-fashioned visual style and its biblical subject are suggestive of seventeenth-century English embroidery tradition (see footnote 1) . Points of comparison include the Stuart-style dress, the simply executed facial features, and motifs such as the rolling hills and distant tents, the abundant small animals and flowers, the anthropomorphized sun, and the prevalence of oak trees with snake-like trunks and lumpy leaves.

But what of the family stories that the piece was worked in colonial New Jersey by a girl named Ann Carlisle? Genealogical research reveals nothing to support the traditional creation place. Yet, there are possible connections between the previous owner and an early eighteenth-century Carlisle family, well-off settlers of Sussex County, Delaware (see footnote 2). Given the region’s proximity to Philadelphia, it’s possible that just such an affluent Delaware family may have sent their daughter to be educated in the city (see footnote 3). In further exploring the visual clues, we find additional encouragement for a Philadelphia connection.

The picture’s mount represents a powerful piece of evidence (see footnote 4). With the needlework laced to a cedar board through a series of small drilled holes, the mount strongly resembles those of the two Sarah Wistar pictures in Winterthur’s collection and, according to curator Linda Eaton, of other work from the Philadelphia school of Elizabeth Marsh and her daughter Ann (see footnote 5). Eaton has argued that mounts and original frames are crucial, and often overlooked, factors in discerning the origins of samplers and embroidered pictures. The piece under discussion may be another case in point, with the mount providing important support for a possible Philadelphia origin (see footnote 6).

Striking visual similarities to other Philadelphia needlework pictures strengthen the possible connection to this city, and to the Marsh school, in particular. In a 1738 sconce by Margaret Wistar, sister of Sarah Wistar and a likely student of Elizabeth Marsh (see footnote 7), we see multiple points of comparison (see footnote 2). The treatment of the sun, dog, sheep, and butterfly are all notably similar to these same elements in the present picture. The flying golden birds in particular share the same positioning of body, tail, and wings, the same tufted head, and the same groupings of feathers on the tail and wings. This correspondence carries over to other examples of the same subject, including a circa 1730 picture executed by Ann Marsh herself (see footnote 8).

Sconce, Margaret Wistar, Philadelphia, 1738. Silk on silk satin with linen border. Courtesy Wyck Historic House, Garden and Farm, Philadelphia.

Sconce, Margaret Wistar, Philadelphia, 1738. Silk on silk
satin with linen border. Courtesy Wyck Historic House, Garden
and Farm, Philadelphia.

Detail of needlework picture by Ann Carlisle

Detail of needlework picture by Ann Carlisle

The five-pointed flower in the middle right section of the present picture is an additional motif that appears in the work of Ann Marsh and her students, and, as noted by Amanda Isaac, in Philadelphia silkwork in general (see footnote 9). Comparing details from the present picture and one of Sarah Wistar’s works at Winterthur, we find a particularly strong visual correspondence. In each of the buff-colored flowers shown, the center is executed in French knots, and the smooth, single-lobed leaves are skillfully shaded using multiple hues of silk, suggesting yet another similarity between the piece under discussion and the needlework of Philadelphia.

Despite a lack of genealogical or historical evidence to strengthen the proposed Philadelphia origin, these visual and technical points of comparison are compelling reasons to attribute the piece to the area. A connection to the Marsh school represents an even more tantalizing possibility: in the annals of American needlework history, Elizabeth Marsh is a major figure, credited with setting the course for the development of Philadelphia’s sophisticated style (see footnote 10). A confirmed connection to his teacher could strengthen our understanding of an important needlework school. Further, in this picture, we may have an unusual early survival of particularly elaborate work, challenging our assumptions about the level of accomplishment of women and girls of the era.

Needlework picture, detail, Sarah Wistar, 1752. Philadelphia. Museum purchase (1964.0120.002 A). Courtesy Winterthur Museum.

Needlework picture, detail, Sarah Wistar, 1752. Philadelphia.
Museum purchase (1964.0120.002 A). Courtesy Winterthur Museum.

A Winterthur Primer reprinted with permission from Antiques & Fine Art Magazine.

Post by Emelie Gevalt, a second-year Lois F. McNeil Fellow in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture.

Footnotes:

  1. The resemblance to seventeenth-century needlework, coupled with the similarities to significantly later works, as discussed in this article, make it particularly challenging to date this piece. A wide date range of 1690–1740 is appropriate until further research can be done on needlework in the early colonial period.

  2. The piece descended in the family Harry M. Wilson of Cumberland County, New Jersey; Wilson’s great-grandfather was William Carlisle, who, according to a death record, was originally from Delaware. Although no definitive link has been established between William Carlisle and the Carlisles of Sussex County, Delaware, there are instances of both families using the surname Pemberton as a first name for their sons, suggesting a common ancestry. See the 1850 Maurice River, New Jersey, census record for William Carlisle, and Esther Littleford Woodworth-Barnes, “Captain Thomas Pemberton (ca. 1655–ca 1717) of Maryland and Delaware, “National Genealogical Society Quarterly: 265-269. Photocopied record, Family History Folders, “Pemberton.”Delaware Historical Society Research Library. For additional documentation of these findings and for further genealogical research, see Emelie Gevalt, “From England to Philadelphia: Distinguishing Influences from Origins in a Silkwork Picture,” Winterthur registrar files, 2016.

  3. I am indebted to Gloria Seaman Allen, Cynthia Steinhoff, and Amy Finkel for these suggestions, in email correspondence with the author, April 2016.

  4. Linda Eaton, in conversation with the author, March 2016.
  5.  Linda Eaton, “Needlework and their Frames: Multimedia Objects. Winterthur Primer,” Antiques and Fine Art Magazine (14thAnniversary, vol. XIII, no. 1): 268–270.

  6. Further research is needed to determine whether these types of mounts are indicative of a specifically Philadelphia origin or simply of a Mid-Atlantic one.

  7. Betty Ring, Girlhood Embroidery: American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework 1650-1850 (New York: Knopf, 1993): 354

  8. See Ring, 355, for the Ann Marsh sconce; see Winterthur object number 1966.1391A for another example of this subject.
  9. Amanda Isaac, “Ann Flower’s Sketchbook: Drawing, Needlework, and Women’s Artistry in Colonial Philadelphia,” Winterthur Portfolio 41 (Summer/Autumn 2007): 152
  10. Ring, 332.
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A Woman Lithographer in Nineteenth-Century New York

Frances Flora Bond Palmer (1812–1876) is the most important woman lithographer of nineteenth-century America. She is best known for her association with Currier & Ives, where, after joining the firm in 1851, she produced more prints than any other artist. Before then, Palmer held an independent career both in England and in New York, where she settled with her family in 1844. She exhibited at the National Academy of Design and the American Institute, executed dozens of framing prints, and created lithographs for several illustrated books. Winterthur’s museum and library collections hold several examples of her early American work. Looking at these lithographic prints created before her long collaboration with Currier & Ives gives us insight into her position as an artist lithographer in nineteenth-century New York, and her contributions to the expanding field of American lithography.

One of the largest of Palmer’s early New York commissions consisted of the lithographs that reproduced William H. Ranlett’s architectural drawings of site view, elevations, and floor plans for Ranlett’s two-volume book The Architect, published in New York between 1847 and 1849. In this publication, Palmer used a two-stone lithographic technique that reflects her training with Louis Haghe (1806–1885), one of the founders of Day & Haghe, the leading lithographic firm of early Victorian London.

Haghe was a famous architectural draftsman, a watercolor artist, and the lithographer of David Roberts’s watercolor drawings for The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia (1842-1846), widely considered the culmination of Haghe’s tinted lithographic technique. Palmer was in Haghe’s workshop during the early stages of the preparation of Roberts’ watercolors. She, in turn, brought to Day & Haghe an excellent foundation in drawing, perspective, and watercolors learned at Mary Linwood’s academy for girls in Leicester. With Haghe, Palmer perfected her knowledge of drawing and drafting, and mastered the technique of tinted lithography. Combining a stone with crayon drawing with another stone of monochrome tint, a tinted lithograph could imitate the effect of the watercolor wash often used in the background of a drawing.

William H. Ranlett (1806–1865), The Architect; F. & S. Palmer, lithographers (New York: DeWitt & Davenport, 1847–1849). Printed Book and Periodical Collection, Winterthur Library.

William H. Ranlett (1806–1865), The Architect; F. & S. Palmer, lithographers (New York:
DeWitt & Davenport, 1847–1849). Printed Book and Periodical Collection, Winterthur Library.

Church of the Holy Trinity, another early New York print by Palmer, shows the artist’s mastery of multiple-stone lithographic technique. Here, Palmer prepared one tint stone with a broad expanse of solid blue tone for the sky, with small areas removed or “gummed out” to create the white clouds. Instead of limiting her use of secondary stones to tint—the lithographic imitation of watercolor washes—she created two crayon drawings on two separate stones. One was printed in black, to delineate the contours and architectural details of the church. The second one, printed in brown ink, highlighted the texture of the church’s stonework and enhanced the dramatic effect of the sunlight on the ornate facade of the Gothic Revival architecture.

Church of the Holy Trinity, Brooklyn Heights, F. & S. Palmer, lithographers; Frances B. Palmer, artist, New York, 1845. Three-stone lithograph printed in black, tan, and blue inks on wove paper. Winterthur Museum (1973.0567); Library Purchase.

Church of the Holy Trinity, Brooklyn Heights, F. & S. Palmer, lithographers;
Frances B. Palmer, artist, New York, 1845. Three-stone lithograph printed in black,
tan, and blue inks on wove paper. Winterthur Museum (1973.0567); Library Purchase.

A closer look at Palmer’s early work in New York calls attention to her role in the development of American lithography in the 1850s. More specifically, her fine use of multiple stones in the drawing of Church of the Holy Trinity suggests that she had a critical influence at Currier & Ives. Nathaniel Currier almost entirely limited his publications to black and white lithographs before hiring her. After 1851, the firm published several of their now iconic compositions, drawn by Palmer and printed with more than one stone. One of them, Wooding-Up on the Mississippi, reveals how her brilliant handling of tonal values created a nocturne landscape that barely needs the addition of hand coloring that we expect to see on a Currier & Ives print.

Palmer is one of the artists whose work is explored in Lasting Impressions: The Artists of Currier & Ives, at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, from September 17, 2016, until January 8, 2017.

“Wooding up” on the Mississippi, F. F. Palmer, artist; Currier & Ives, lithographers, New York, ca. 1863. Library of Congress (LC-DIG-pga-00976).

“Wooding up” on the Mississippi, F. F. Palmer, artist; Currier & Ives, lithographers,
New York, ca. 1863. Library of Congress (LC-DIG-pga-00976).

Post by Marie-Stephanie Delamaire, associate curator of fine arts at Winterthur. A Winterthur Primer reprinted with permission from Antiques & Fine Art Magazine

 

 

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Domestic Politics

Glass flask with the bust of Zachary Taylor, made at the Dyottville Glass Works, Philadelphia, 1846−40. Gift of Mrs. Harry W. Lunger 1973.402.6

Glass flask with the bust of Zachary Taylor, made at the Dyottville Glass
Works, Philadelphia, 1846−40. Gift of Mrs. Harry W. Lunger 1973.402.6

Every four years, after each presidential election, there are newspaper op-eds claiming that the campaign that year was longer, nastier, and more divisive than ever. The truth of the matter is that presidential campaigns of the past could be just as long, nasty, and divisive as modern political contests. They certainly could be more colorful.

The populist campaigns of the second quarter of the nineteenth century were marked by an explosion of material culture bearing slogans, icons, and portraits of the candidates. From hickory canes for “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson in 1828 to log cabin carriages for William Henry Harrison in 1840 and glass flasks molded with battle cries surrounding the bust of Zachary Taylor in 1848, a full range of decorative and useful objects was fashioned to show partisan support that lasted well beyond an election.

Material culture allowed a campaign to cross the threshold from the public sphere into the private home and become a part of daily life. Ceramics, textiles, and personal accessories populated homes with images of a favorite candidate. In the 1820s, copper lusterware pitchers bearing a brooding portrait of “General Jackson, The Hero of New Orleans” brought the volatile politicians to the dining table. Following Jackson’s win in the 1828 election, housewives could make curtains from a victorious inauguration textile, placing the general among the pantheon of U.S. presidents.

In 1840 fervent partisans showed their Whiggish loyalty by purchasing entire sets of dining and teawares decorated with a special pattern in support of William Henry Harrison. Produced by William Adams and Sons in Staffordshire, England, the pattern was named “Log Cabin,” after Harrison’s iconic residence on the frontier. The story of retired General Harrison’s welcoming an injured soldier into his modest home was also printed on bandboxes and molded into glass cup plates for use and display in the home. His log cabin became the logo of the Whig campaign, drawing a domestic connection between the candidate and the electorate.

Lusterware pitcher with the portrait of Andrew Jackson, made in Staffordshire, England, 1824−30. Gift of Mr. B. Thatcher Feustman 1966.69

Lusterware pitcher with the portrait of
Andrew Jackson, made in Staffordshire,
England, 1824−30. Gift of Mr. B. Thatcher
Feustman 1966.69

Teacup printed with the “Log Cabin” pattern in support of William Henry Harrison, made by William Adams and Sons, Staffordshire, England, 1840. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1969.1738.1

Teacup printed with the “Log
Cabin” pattern in support of William
Henry Harrison, made by William Adams
and Sons, Staffordshire, England, 1840.
Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont
1969.1738.1

Printed textile portraying Zackary Taylor, made in the United States, 1848. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1969.3332.1

Printed textile portraying Zackary Taylor, made in the
United States, 1848. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont
1969.3332.1

In 1848 another victorious general was running for president. Images of Zachary Taylor and his campaigns in the Mexican-American War were repeated on textiles that draped the homes of his political supporters. The patterns combined popular decorative motifs with campaign imagery, such as the textile for curtains and quilts that showed General Taylor and his horse, Old Whitey.

Although women in the Jacksonian era couldn’t vote, much less run for president, they did find their own ways of participating in political campaigns. During Jackson’s campaigns in the 1820s, they could purchase, use, and display pin boxes showing support for a candidate. The pincushions on top of each box were stamped and painted with slogans such as “Victory to Jackson,” “Old Hickory Forever,” and “Don’t Forget New Orleans.” Jackson’s portrait was mounted under glass under the lid of each box. Sewing was also a prominent way women were actively involved in campaigns. From the blue and red textiles with a pattern of log cabins and William Henry Harrison on wholecloth quilts in the 1840s to a large needlework portrait of Henry Clay made by twelve-year-old Agnes D. Jackson stitchery highlighted not only a young woman’s skill but her political opinions as well.

Badges, buttons, ribbons, and personal accessories marked men as partisans and allowed them to carry their candidate with them throughout the day. In 1828 circular tobacco boxes bearing the portrait of General Jackson could be slipped into a pocket or displayed on a desk. In 1844 cigar cases were decorated with the portrait of Henry Clay. If a supporter preferred pipes to cigars, he could purchase a Clay pipe molded with the face of the candidate. “Log Cabin” beaver hats and “Rough and Ready” straw hats also allowed supporters to make their views known.

Needlework portrait of Henry Clay, made by Agnes D. Jackson, Rockaway, New Jersey, 1850. Gift of Ruth Gardiner Rathburn Pitman 2001.14

Needlework portrait of Henry Clay, made by
Agnes D. Jackson, Rockaway, New Jersey, 1850.
Gift of Ruth Gardiner Rathburn Pitman 2001.14

Leather and papier-mâché cigar case decorated with the portrait of Henry Clay, made in the United States, 1844. Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1965.2092

Leather and papier-mâché cigar case decorated with
the portrait of Henry Clay, made in the United States, 1844.
Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1965.2092

As material evidence of partisan enthusiasm, political material culture existed for all citizens, whether male or female. Campaign objects graced shop windows and dinner tables as well as the coats and heads of supporters. Not only markers of inclusion with a specific group, they were the ultimate demonstration of dedication and enthusiasm for a candidate and his party.

Post by Lydia Blackmore, decorative arts curator at The Historic New Orleans Collection and a 2013 graduate of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture.

 

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Research Never Tasted So Good

Election Day in Philadelphia by John Lewis Krimmel, 1815, Philadelphia, PA, Oil paint, Canvas, Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Francis du Pont, 1959.131

Election Day in Philadelphia by John Lewis Krimmel, 1815, Philadelphia, PA, Oil paint, Canvas, Museum purchase with funds provided by Henry Francis du Pont, 1959.131

As the 2016 election season reaches its climax, one of our research fellows has provided us with a delicious treat to celebrate the occasion. Bryce Evans, senior lecturer in history at Liverpool Hope University, England, is researching the history of an aptly named historical goodie: the election cake.

This dish has its roots in the enormous cakes New England women baked to sustain militias. However, after the American Revolution it became associated with elections and was offered as an incentive for men to cast their ballot. Although there are many variations on this treat, it is typically filled with a variety of dried fruits, spices, and plenty of booze. The cake is unique in that it contains yeast, making it resemble more of a bread than a cake.

Evans is particularly interested in how election cakes varied in size over time as America itself was changing. The original 17th-century election cakes were enormous—big enough to sustain large numbers of male voters. As America gained its independence and became more industrialized and urban, the cakes became smaller, resembling more of a sweet loaf. This can be attributed to the cake being baked domestically rather than communally and the influx of different ethnic groups who preferred cooking by stove rather than by hearth.

The Winterthur Library collection is rich in materials related to this dessert, including recipe books and other items focused on the history of American foodways. “The material in the Downs Collection has given me unique insight into the history of the election cake, and although researching cake sounds a tad decadent, it’s about more than just cake, it’s about understanding what a changing recipe says about a changing American society,” notes Evans.

H. N. Pilsbury’s Election Cake recipe, 1847. Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Doc. 275

H. N. Pilsbury’s Election Cake recipe, 1847. Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Doc. 275

Lydia Grofton Jarvis’s Election Cake recipe, ca. 1840. Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Doc. 828.

Lydia Grofton Jarvis’s Election Cake recipe, ca. 1840. Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Doc. 828.

Although the cake disappeared from popular memory around the middle of the 20th century, this election cycle has seen a resurgence in the tradition. Bakeries across the country are baking the treat again, and just last week Evans was interviewed by the BBC in the UK to provide insight into this historical recipe.

The riches of the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera are not limited to the written word—the librarians have taken a keen interest in the subject and have turned into bakers this election season to help Evans with his research. “Bryce became interested in election cake, and we were discussing how unusual it is because the recipes called for yeast, which you would use with bread not cake,” Downs Librarian Laura Parrish noted. “I checked a couple of cookbooks I had at home and found a modern recipe, so I decided I would make an election cake. His interest became my interest.”

Laura Parrish's delicious Election Cake

Laura Parrish’s delicious Election Cake

It is this creative, supportive, and dynamic environment that makes the Research Fellowship Program at Winterthur a special and integral part of the institution. Fellows do not merely pore over dusty manuscripts by themselves in the library but are immersed into a community that cares deeply about material culture research. Staff and fellows brainstorm, collaborate, and even bake in order to better understand the deliciousness of the American past—even if it means getting flour all over the kitchen!

If you are interested in coming to Winterthur to research the sweet treats of America’s past or to explore our rich collections for materials related to other aspects of American history, please come and join our community by applying to the Research Fellowship Program. For more information on the program, view our brochure.

Applications due January 15, 2017

Post by Thomas Guiler, Manager and Instructor, Academic Programs, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

 

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Decking the Dollhouse Halls in August

Our recent blog posts have chronicled the dollhouse donated to Winterthur, with the most recent posts detailing the cleaning and conservation treatments. After completing those intricate tasks and treatments, it was time to begin the re-installation process. This meant using photographs showing the way the dollhouse was last assembled by its creator, Nancy McDaniel. We wanted to arrange the miniatures in a manner true to Nancy’s vision.

Every room had an average of 50 miniatures, and as we secured each item into place, we documented it on a Canon T4i camera. These videos allow a viewer to enjoy each room as it comes together piece by piece. Altogether 18 stop-motion videos were made, one for each room.

The only thing these videos are missing is the installation of Christmas, Nancy’s favorite time of year. She was an enthusiastic gift giver throughout the entire year, but Christmas was the season of giving. We know she ran a number of charities and fundraisers; most notable among them was her community’s Festival of Trees. And of course, it was Nancy who saw to it that garlands and wreaths draped her town during the holiday season. So it should come as no surprise to learn that dozens of miniature Christmas decorations accompanied the dollhouse as well. Unfortunately, the photographs we referenced to re-install the dollhouse did not include pictures of the house decorated for Christmas. So what to do? How would we deck the halls without all the necessary information?

First, we reached out to Nancy’s friends and family. Perhaps they would remember. Through her friends and family, we learned the ways in which Nancy decorated her own home. To start, there were seven Christmas trees, one of which was decorated entirely with unique silver ornaments, while another was covered in 474 needlepointed ornaments made by Nancy herself. Nutcrackers stood guard in almost every room, and her handmade crèche greeted visitors near the front door.

After spending nine-and-a-half weeks tending to her dollhouse and talking to her friends and family, we felt like we had gotten to know Nancy a little. So, equipped with what we had learned about her own home, our own studies of Nancy’s attention to color and arrangement in the rest of the dollhouse, and just a little dash of good old-fashioned fun, we installed the delightful Christmas decorations. In total, we used 45 of the 116 miniature wreaths and three Christmas trees as well as dozens of other irresistibly festive details. To fully appreciate the scale of Nancy’s achievement, you will have to visit the dollhouse and see it decked out for the holidays during Yuletide at Winterthur.

dollhouse 2

Post by Karissa Muratore and Amanda Kasman, University of Delaware Art Conservation undergraduates who completed a summer internship at Winterthur Museum preparing  the dollhouse for display.

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Sticking Around

The use of harmful adhesives in historic dollhouses is controversial as it poses risks to museum objects’ longevity. It is for this reason that a previous post on the dollhouse at Winterthur explained in depth the method we developed to avoid the use of any adhesives. However, many miniatures other than wall décor required innovative securing methods. To be clear, we could have chosen the easy way out, a plan that would have saved us days, even weeks, in our tight schedule, producing a final result that would have looked almost exactly the same. We could have secured everything with large amounts of museum wax. From its name, you may be able to tell that it is commonly used in museums and is widely trusted to hold objects in place in the event of vibrations, even earthquakes. But that wasn’t good enough for the dollhouse. Why you may ask?

First, the majority of our time has been spent cleaning excess wax off of the miniatures and out of the dollhouse. Excess wax isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it does provide a conveniently sticky surface for dust and grime to attach to and build up on over time. Second, as we learned from our own experience, wax loses its effectiveness on small surface areas. This means if the smallest miniatures in the dollhouse had been secured with wax, they could potentially break loose and become lost quite easily. This would be tragic as our smallest miniatures are also some of our most valuable. The tiny sterling silver flatware in the dining room posed the largest challenge. The pieces are so tiny, it was often easier to handle the 48 pieces of miniature silver, including salad and entrée forks, soup and dessert spoons, knives, and even napkin rings with tweezers rather than gloved fingers.

Silver fork before polishing, photo, Evan Krape / University of Delaware

Silver fork before polishing, photo, Evan Krape / University of Delaware

So how did we secure all these miniature pieces? We made placemats! Even though we were technically adding an unoriginal element to the house, we came to the conclusion that sewing the silver pieces in place would be significantly better for both the silver itself and the table than using a sticky adhesive or wax. Using one of the many handkerchiefs among the extraneous items donated with the dollhouse, we fashioned eight placemats from its lace trimming. In a way, we were following  the lead of Nancy (the original dollhouse owner) because, as we later discovered, she had used a similar handkerchief as a bed sheet in the girl’s bedroom. After 18 hours, the flatware was sewed to placemats, and the placemats were sewn to each other, all with a thin, hardly visible polyester thread. Those teeny tiny spoons are not going anywhere now.

picture 2

Another issue with wax is the way it embeds itself into textiles. Among the miniature textiles in the dollhouse, the most notable are the 17 needlepoint rugs made by Nancy herself. Apparently she was never without a needlepoint project in her hands. We recently learned that she had a regimen of creating one rug each winter for her beloved dollhouse, often consulting with friends over patterns and color choices. Unfortunately, these rugs slide when the dollhouse is moved, endangering the numerous pieces of miniature furniture resting on them. Preventing movement of the rugs during the migration from storage out into the stair hall for its display during Yuletide at Winterthur was of particular importance. Wax would certainly have solved this, but we wanted to create a barrier between the textile and wax. Our solution was to acquire 68, super-thin earth magnets, four for each rug, measuring ¼” x ¼”  x 1/32″  thick. Two of these magnets were sewn under the front two corners of each rug. The magnets’ counterparts were then waxed to the floor. This solution, in addition to avoiding direct contact between wax and textile, carried with it the benefit that the rugs can be easily removed from the rooms. We would only need to release the magnets in the front and slide the rug out. Additionally, when we want to put the rug back in the same location as before, it simply snaps into place.

picture 3

It is our hope that the methods we developed to secure these and other items in the dollhouse are equally safe and subtle. We can’t wait for the unveiling of the dollhouse on November 19, when we hope the public will be as captivated by this dollhouse as we are.

Post by Karissa Muratore and Amanda Kasman, University of Delaware Art Conservation undergraduates who completed a summer internship at Winterthur Museum preparing  the dollhouse for display.

The unveiling of this fabulous 18-room dollhouse, charmingly decorated for the holidays, coincides with the opening of this year’s Yuletide at Winterthur on November 19!

[Sources for link to tiny magnets]

K&J Magnets

https://www.kjmagnetics.com/proddetail.asp?prod=B4201

https://www.kjmagnetics.com/blog.asp?p=pacemaker-safety

 

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