It was the special genius of 18th and 19th C. craftsmen to make ordinary objects
extraordinary. Utilitarian furnishings like small looking glasses and watchholders were
carved and painted. Color and design turned pantries and table top boxes into decoration. And early lighting took on a gallery of forms limited only by the gifts of the individual
artisan. We do our best to bring you the rarest and most distinctive accessories in the
hope that they will brighten your home as they did other homes centuries ago.
Halsey Munson Americana
2707 Twin Oaks Court
Decatur, Illinois 62526
All rights reserved.
18th C. Walnut Slide Lide Spice Box
Extremely good curly walnut dovetailed slide lid spice box with a raised panel lid. The interior is divided into six compartments. Figuring on all sides of the box. No breaks or repairs except a single helper nail in the bottom. The rest are forged iron sprigs and the box is almost certainly 18th C. 9” x 6” x 2¼”. Shrinkage split in the one-board base.
Early 19th C. CT Tole Bread Tray
Excellent American painted tinware bread tray with a very good crystallized bottom. The repeated red and green motifs on the rim are classic design elements used by the Oliver Filley shop in Bloomfield, CT. And the yellow band enclosing a dark wavy line is a design form first seen in the Connecticut Filley shop. 12 5/8”L. Ca 1805-1825. Ex-Harry Hartman.
19th C. Pantry in Verdigris Green
Ca. 1850-1875 pantry box in a striking shade of verdigris green that matches almost perfectly the honest weathered surface of a really good 19th C. weathervane. 9½” with several helper nails with irregular heads and the painted initials “OH” on the bottom.
Small Mulberry Pantry Box
Pure 19th C. 6” pantry box in undisturbed crusty mulberry paint so deeply oxidized it looks almost black. Two old lid cracks, both tight. Iron nails and wooden shoemaker’s pegs and not one missing. An extremely solid box. I love the way this one looks on a stack.
Painted and Signed Oval Pantry Box
Excellent oval three-finger pantry box from the first half of the 1800s. Two bevel-edged swallowtail fingers on the base, one short finger on the lid. Copper nails. The initials “P n B” are deeply incised into the lid. The unusual sea foam green paint is unquestionably original. 8” x 5 3/8”. The box has two small holes just beyond the tops of the fingers, that suggest its owner may have used it as a thread box and fed the strands out through the holes—a colonial archetype for the Shaker sewing box.
Four 19th C. R.C. Remmey
Stoneware Tavern Mugs
Rare set of four ca. 1850-1860 barrel form pint tavern mugs, attributed to Richard Clinton Remmey of Philadelphia, the last of the legendary Remmey family of potters. Cobalt decorated, with a cobalt infilled inscription to a patron known as “Mc C.” Save for one in-the-making salt drip, all four are quite literally perfect.
Late 19th C. Carved Apple Tray
Elegant apple or fruit tray carved from a single block of maple. The tray has canted sides, arched ends that are thicker than the sides, and a slightly domed base carved like the bottom of a kitten head basket. Probably the late 1800s, possibly early 1900s. 12”L x 8”W. This is the only apple tray of this sort I’ve seen.
Rare George & Martha Washington Chalkware Portraits
Extremely rare pair of chalkware shadowbox portraits of George and Martha Washington in original polychrome paint. Following his death, images of George became enormously popular. As his legend grew, portraits of Washington appeared in oil, reversed on glass and carved in wood. This, however, is the only example of our first president and his wife I’ve ever seen created as glass enclosed high relief chalkware images. The glass is original—wavy and with imperfections—and glazed into the rim of each chalkware box. I’ve seen only one other example of this form and I suspect they were created in Pennsylvania in the first half of the 1800s. Ex-David Good. $1,575
18th C. Native American Burl Bowl
This unusual 18th C. hewn maple burl bowl is in the shape of a basin. Classic deep swirling grain pattern. Dry interior surface. A very rare form illustrated in plate 7/16 of Steve Powers definitive study, North American Burl Treen, in which he estimates that only 3-5% of all American burl bowls were made in maple. The date 1818 is incised on the underside, accompanied by the initials “EES” and “EHS,” probably those of early colonial owners. 8” x 11 ¼” x 3 ¼”. Great Lakes region. Notch in the rim of one short side, smooth and ancient, that was clearly there in the making. 1770-1800. A choice piece of early American burl.
Small Early 19th C. Wallpaper Box
Very good dome topped wallpaper box just 7” long. Marbleized paper over pine, with original iron latch, plate, lock and brass lid boss. Faceplate is attached with small rosehead nails, one of which at the lower right corner has lost its head. Paper coverage on the exterior is an amazing 90+%. The blue polkadotted interior paper is almost perfect. The matching cloth hinge may be an early replacement. 7”L x 3¼”H x 4”D. Ca. 1810-1820. A sweetheart!
Ca. 1810-1840 Painted
Pennsylvania Knife Tray
Excellent early 19th C. cutlery tray in untouched condition. Canted white pine walls with rabbeted corners and deeply scrolled rims on all sides, meticulous square nail construction on a projecting base, all in absolutely original deeply worn salmon-red wash. The inner surfaces show the abrasion of decades of metal utensils. I caution any who are looking for pristine paint (eg. early 20th C. repaint) that this is not for you. This is the real thing and the surface is an aged, scrubbed red wash that fades from base to rim like a sunset. 14½” x 11”. I don’t think country treen gets much better than this. Ex-Dr. James Sutherland collection.
Rare 18th C. Japanned Bible Box
Mid-18th C. English pine bible box in original japanned surface with polychrome figural decoration. This decorative style started, not surprisingly, in Japan in the 17th C., done there painstakingly with multiple coats of tinted lacquers. The style traveled to England in the early 18th C. (then to Boston and New York in the Mid-18th C). Japanning was used on everything from papier mache to highboys, usually in Oriental themes. But this is the first japanned bible box I’ve ever seen on these shores. Boxes like this were also used to store the periwigs that were obligatory for refined men and women of the period. Apparently, the box is all original with the possible exception of the lock which may be an early 19th C. replacement. Forged iron hinges with rosehead nails; the box is constructed with T-head nails. The decoration is definitely the work of a non-professional, perhaps a young woman educated in one of the seminaries, and the tableau on the lid appears to be a courting scene. 15½ x 10½ x 6¼”. $875
18th C. Bowl in Original Paint
Fine late 18th C. maple food bowl in original oxidized red paint, almost identical to the surface illustrated on p. 34 of Steve Powers book on North American Burl Treen. Ca. 1780-1800 with sharply sloping sides up to a thinned rim and terminating below in a flat jack-planed base. Two ancient tight rim fissures. New England. 8½” x 8⅞” x 2⅞”H.
A Box That Really is for Documents
It’s become an unfortunate habit to refer to small antique wooden boxes as “document” boxes when many if not most are too small in fact to have held documents. This one, I suspect, at 15” long and 6” deep actually deserves the name. It is signed twice in graphite on the underside of the lid, once by what appears to be Laura Jackman and dated 1822 in that same hand, and again by Mary Jane Jackman in a more carefully formed script. They may have been Mother and Daughter. Basswood, square nails, original snipe hinges, original dry red paint, subtle bevel on the edge of the lid. No cracks or splits. It was made with a fine wire catch, that was lost early enough in its life for the leather replacement to have hardened over the years and eroded at one edge. One nail at the lower edge of the back is missing. New England, 1822. Nice to see the real thing. $675.
Pennsylvania Spice Box
One of the best paint-decorated boxes I’ve had in quite a while. Poplar and walnut dovetailed case with poplar interior dividers that were reconfigured within a few years of when it was made. Original dry red paint with black decoration on all sides as well as corner spandrels and dot elements on the lid. Paint retention is virtually 100%. Extended one-board base with molded edges and the distinctive feature of seven carved finger notches on the slide lid. Three tiny brads added to reinforce each side rail. Ca. 1810-1820. 12”L x 8”W x 4”H. A gem!
Rare Pair of Maker-Signed
Pair of 19th C. fireplace bellows deeply carved with a version of the North Wind face (only the second one I’ve seen so far to include carefully detailed teeth). The handles are elongated hearts and the serpentine iron nozzle terminates in the form of an open-mouthed serpent. Clearly by the same hand that produced the carved bellows sold at Skinners in 2007 as part of the legendary Meryl Weiss collection. That pair was signed, “W.H.Pries, 433 Canal of New York.” Both were made in the mid-1800s by an imaginative New York craftsman named William Pries, who opened a shop in 1841 at 433 Canal St. in downtown Manhattan. This pair has his incised signature on the inner face of the rear handle: “W.H. Pries.” Professionally re-leathered and fully functional, although the leather hanger loop is worn through. All in the original black paint. 23” long.
Rare 18th C. Metalsmith’s
Uncommon mid-1700s hammer-formed brass and copper apprentice “trial” measure. Many nations have since the Middle Ages had strict guilds that controlled the quality of work produced by artisans in various crafts. They also oversaw the training an apprentice went through to master his trade. Before an apprentice could call himself a craftsman he had to produce a piece that would prove his proficiency. This piece is unusual in that at 6½" tall it’s a fraction the size of the dry measures typically used for gathering produce and carrying water. Duplicating a much larger piece in miniature was an exhibition of impressive skill. Frame edges are subtly beveled and file-worked. Apprentice pieces from this period rarely come on the market and the survival of a mid-1700s example is rare.
Unusual Freehand Watercolor Theorem
Nicely rendered 19th C. watercolor version of the classic still life elements—assorted fruits in an earthenware bowl resting on a rust-colored plinth. Wove paper with minor foxing on the lower edge that doesn’t intrude into the mellow tones of the painting. Original deeply ogee-carved frame with gilt surface and an applied bead molding with pinned metal bosses at the corners. Surface chipping has been retouched with yellow paint—a folky solution that makes me smile. 14 ¾” x 11 ¾”.