American Folk Art Museum

American Folk Art Museum – New York City (near Columbus Circle) Included here: carousel animals, wind vanes, pottery works, carved cake boards (to make impressions on top of gingerbread), quilts, needlepoint samplers, wood statues for outside of stores (since some people couldn’t read these helped tell what was on sale inside) and paintings. This was a small museum but interesting in that it connected the industrial history of New York City to each piece. It was definitely worth the price (FREE).

Above: Armored horse for Coney Island carousel (1912 – 1917). By Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein. Both were woodcarvers in Russia when they emigrated to the US in 1899 and worked for a carousel carving company until they opened their own company in 1909. They eventually also provided the machinery for the carousels, too.

Carousel Lion by Marcus Charles Illions, 1910, Brooklyn, New York, paint on wood with glass eyes. Illions was from Lithuania where he built circus wagons, he then moved to England and began carving carousel horses and moved to the US in 1888. By 1892 he owned his own company. He normally carved horses, not exotic animals, so this is a rarity.

Carousel Camel attributed to the workshop of Charles ID Looff, Brooklyn, New York,1875 – 1900, paint on wood.
Charles Looff emigrated from the Duchy of Holstein (then part of Denmark) in 1870 and found work as a carver at a furniture factory. In his off-hours he carved animals and in 1876 he installed these onto a circular platform at Lucy Vandeveer’s Bathing Pavilion at West Sixth Street and Surf Avenue, thus creating Coney Island’s first carousel.

Above: 1909 Hupmobile weather vane, possibly by JL Mott Ironworks or EG Washbourne & Co., probably made in New York City about 1909 made of copper with some gold leave

Goddess of Liberty Weathervane possibly by JL Mott Ironworks in Bronx, New York 1880 – 1900 paint and gold leaf on cooper and zinc
JL Mott invented the first cooking stove to burn anthracite coal as fuel. He expanded from a small shop at his home on Water Street in Manhattan to the South Bronx. There is still an area there known as Mott Haven, that arose from that foundry.

Four Wheel Wagon to Team Weather Vane by JW Fiske, New York City about 1880, copper. The horse and the patriotic eagle were the most popular choices for weather vanes at this time in history.

A view of several of the display items in the Folk Art Museum – center – an angel wind vane standing on top of the world

# 2 Two gallon crock with eagle by WA MacQuiod and Company Potter Works, stoneware with cobalt design, about 1869 – commemorates the first US “Black Friday”. On September 24, 1869 the price of gold went up to $144.50 per ounce. Speculators had tried to corner the market on gold, artificially inflating the price. President Grant ordered Treasury to release $4 million in gold driving the price down. This crushed the speculators and anyone else who invested heavily in gold.
#3. Three Gallon Crock by WA MacQuiod and Company Pottery Works about 1869. The MacQuiod works were located on Little West 12th Street in New York City. This crock commemorates Blue Laws or Sunday Laws that attempted to regulate use of liquor on Sundays – they were hotly debated by New Yorkers who felt the government was legislating morals and manners.

Punch Bowl attributed to John Crolious, Jr., New York City, 1811 salt-glazed gray stoneware with cobalt decoration. The inscription on the bowl reads: “Elisabeth Crane May 22, 1811”. The Crane family lived in Cranetown (now Monclair) New Jersey. A Caleb Crane worked as a potter at the potteryworks and it had been suggested it may have been a gift for his wife or a christening gift for his daughter, both Elisabeths.

Four Gallon Crock with Cat and Mouse by WA MacQuoid and Company Pottery Works, salt-glazed stoneware with cobalt decoration, 1863-1879

Two Gallon Crock with Church by L. Lehman and Company, W. 12th Street New York City (Greenwich Village). This crock depicts a German style church complete with a rooster weather vane. German immigrants live in the West 12th Street area so the church may have been local.

Two gallon jar by Thomas W. Commeraw, between 1793-1812, salt-glazed stoneware with cobalt decoration, New York City. Commeraw was a well known member of the free black community in New York. Commeraw’s pottery works was on Cherry Street. Coerlears Hook was a center of shipbuilding and shipping in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Flask attributed to Henry Remmey, 1804, salt-glazed stoneware with cobalt and incised decoration. The piece is engraved Henry Edoson with the date February 14, 1804.

Memorial to John J. Marselis by Ann Marselis, New York City; silk, chenille, paint and ink on silk
Ann Marselis stitched this silk-on-silk embroidery in memory of her younger brother, John (1791 – 1808) The symbols of weeping willow trees, women bowed in grief, and urns were taken from ancient iconography of death and mourning. It belongs to a recognized group of New York folk art memorials popular between 1810 and 1825.

Log Cabin Quilt, Courthouse Steps Variation by Samuel Steinberger, New York City, 1890 – 1910.
Samuel Steinberger, a Hungarian immigrant and tailor, came to New York in 1884 and married his wife, Sarah, also from Hungary in 1889. According to anecdotal information given to the museum, Steinberger used remnants of satin and velvet linings from his tailoring business for his quilt, which was probably used for a parlor through.

Reconciliation Quilt by Lucinda Ward Honstain, 1867 , cotton, Brooklyn, New York
Lucinda Ward Honstain made this quilt in the wake of the Civil War. She used fabric from her father’s and brother’s dry goods store and her husband, who was a tailor. One square shows a man with a driving a horse-drawn wagon labeled “W.B. Dry Goods”. Another square shows a man selling ice cream from a goat cart. The man is probably a free black man that was formerly enslaved by her brother but was freed.

Carved figures:
Left: Mariner, artist unknown, 1850, paint on wood, probably a countertop display at a shop that sold supplies to the nautical trade
Middle: Tea Shop Figure attributed to William Demuth, 1870 – 1900, paint on wood. The Chinese-styled figure was used in front of tea shops as an Indian used to used to indicate a tobacco shop. For many years this figure stood in front of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company’s shop on Broadway and Meserole Street in Brooklyn
Right: Captain Jinks Show Figure possibly by Thomas J. White, New York City, 1880, paint on wood

Cakeboard with Cornucopia and Horse – Drawn Chariot, 1825 – 1835, New York City, wood, stamped J. Conger. In Europe knowledge of carving was part of the apprenticeship program for a baker. The tradition was found only in areas where gingerbread baking was well established by the eighteenth century, including New York City, where the New Year’s cake, a large cookie made of stiff white dough was popular. To print the large New Year’s cakes, professional bakers would chill the dough to near freezing, then place it in the press picture side down against the dough. Pressure was exerted, and the dough was literally printed with the carved design.

op: Cakeboard with Pumper workshop of John Conger, 1825 – 1835, wood
Bottom: Cakeboard with dog, horse and rider and floral medallions, workshop of John Conger, 1825 – 1835, wood

Sampler from June 20, 1786 by 8 year-old Hester Moore

Left and Center: Portrait of Mrs. Ann Eliza Sloan Dorrance and Dr. Benjamin Brewster Dorrance, New York City or Sullivan County, New York, 1824 – 1825, by Ammi Phillips, oil on canvas
Ammi Phillips was one of the most prolific folk portrait painters. Dr. Dorrance practice was listed at 69 Pump Street in the 1825-1826 New York City Directory
Left: Portrait of John Totten; Staten Island, New York; 1834 by John Bradley, oil on canvas – the artist John Bradley was an emigrant from Great Britain. The subject John Totten was a wealthy land owner on Staten Island.

Oystering at Prince’s Bay; Staten Island, New York; about 1853; Oil on canvas

Portrait of Peter Williams, artist unidentified, 1810-1815, oil on canvas Peter Williams (1750-1823) was born to enslaved parents in a cowshed next to their owner’s home on Beekman Street. He was purchased an a young man by a cigar maker and became an expert cigar maker. He became a leader in the movement to establish an independent Methodist church for the African-American community. In 1778 the Wesley Chapel on John Street, which was open to black congregants, purchased Williams for forty pounds and made him their sexton. In 1796 Williams and his wife purchased their freedom from the church and he opened a successful tobacco store on Liberty Street.

Landscape (possibly Staten Island, New York) artist unidentified, 1850

The Third Avenue Railroad Depot by William H. Schenck, 1859 – 1860, oil on canvas