Friday, April 29, 2011

Roller skate boxes

Somebody out there has put together a killer collection of roller skate boxes. This one recently sold on eBay. See another strong example on Anonymous Works. I have one at home (not as good as this one) that I picked up for a song. I've seen others that I'd love to have. Like hotrod racers, roller skaters tried to impress with their personally decorated boxes. It's an area of folk art that's still not fully appreciated.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

William Dawson doll

William Dawson was born in Alabama but spent most of his life in Chicago, where he worked as a produce distribution manager. After retiring, Dawson turned his attention to carving. In 1982 his work became really well known when he was included in the show "Black Folk Art in America: 1930-1980," which began at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. Dawson died in July 1990. A number of his carvings are for sale in the Slotin auction this weekend in Buford, Ga. The doll here features a wig and is available at Candler Arts.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rabbit run

A small shooting gallery target from a carnival or fair.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I found her at an outdoors antiques show in New Hampshire years ago. She doesn't look happy, like someone just denied her something. I like how the artist gave her prominent cheeks that emphasize the wood grain.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Haircuts here

Flanged metal trade sign with a handsome darkened surface.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Early home security?

I was told this thick clay mask was an early form of home security, displayed near a window, lit by candlelight. Definitely eerie. From New York State. 7 inches tall.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Living large

A woman's trip to Florida(?) is captured in this most unusual memento, a manipulated photograph, c. 1960s. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Woman of confidence

Not sure if this lady is dressed for an evening out or in her nightgown -- fashion is not my strong suit. Either way, she feels like a million bucks. Gotta like that.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dramatic floral painting

A large, early 20th century oil on canvas. The almost-black wood frame has traces of glitter. There is a signature in black in the lower right corner, but I could make out only the first couple letters.

Friday, April 8, 2011

11 o'clock

An antique hardwood Elks plaque that's reminiscent of Black Forest art. The explanation of 11 o'clock can be found here. Elks Lodge No. 30 is in Metairie, the New Orleans suburb, but the names on the back are not French in origin but German: Offenberg and, in the lower left corner, Hoefler. Lodge No. 30 was founded in 1885, 17 years after the fraternal organization was created. The Elks is headquartered in Chicago. In a close vote, 8 to 7, the founding members chose the elk rather than the buffalo to be the group's symbol.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Funky dart board

Homemade dart board, made from an old lid, has a pull knob on the top and nail decoration. The nails are mystifying. Perhaps they were added to make the game more challenging; darts would bounce off. The soft edges of the paint decoration give the board a sort of glow. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Similar, not identical

I mentioned in the previous post that I thought the painter of the double-sided house painter trade sign tried to make both sides identical. The two sides, it turned out, are different, but not so different that it's obvious that was the maker's intent. The same goes for this carving of the seated bathing beauty. Is she supposed to be one person or two?

Saturday, April 2, 2011


A wood, double-sided sign, 2-feet tall, showing what appears to be a house painter. If he's not a house painter, he's a handyman. The artist undoubtedly tried to make both sides identical, but luckily he failed and so we have two folky gentlemen. The paint surface is heavily alligatored and the brushwork is a bit sloppy, as you can see from the paint drips.