Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Rare and Beautiful Find

(Above) Americana and folk art dealer Tim Chambers stands next to his booth at the 2009 Queeny Park Antiques Show in St. Louis, Missouri. Click on image for larger view.


(Above) This 100-year old architectural gable caught my eye immediately. I had to learn more, and Tim Chambers obliged not only with an oral history, but a 100-year old photograph of the house it came from just outside of Rochester, Minnesota. Click on image for larger view.


(Above) Detail. Click on image for larger view.
(Above) Tim Chambers believes strongly that what you see of paint on this gable is the original paint and it was painted at the turn of the 20th century. Click on image for larger view.
(Above) Look at this beautiful detail, showing the tree of life at the center, with the rays of the sun extending from each side. Click on image for larger view.

(Above) This photo, dated 1906, is the holy grail of the architectural piece. If you click on the image, you can see the gable, right at the peak of the roof. This is a great photo, the Dee family, (Frank, John and Katharine and their Collie dog) standing proudly in front of their Minnesota homestead—a personification of the American dream. Definitely, click on this image!


WHENEVER I AM FORTUNATE TO SEE FOLK ART DEALER TIM CHAMBERS, you can bet he’ll have some great objects for sale. Tim is not only a great guy, he’s an expert in early American folk art game boards, and his book The Art of the Game is widely considered one of the finest books ever published on the subject. You can order it here (while it lasts!)

Now let me tell you about the find of the day. The architectural Victorian-styled gable from a Rochester, MN farmhouse was just outstanding. The piece is hand made and measures about 10’ long and 5’ tall overall. Gabled ends such as this were considered the crown jewel of these otherwise simple dwellings. This example is in a near perfect state of preservation. The design elements include the expected stick and ball as well a a center “tree of life” with sun bursts on either side. This beauty has survived well over one hundred freezing Minnesota winters and summers—so imagine the stories it could tell.

The house today is, unfortunately, near ruin. Tim says that some farm animals have been housed there—and hay is stored in the house as well. It is really a blessing that this particular architectural remnant could be saved, as the house is about to be torn down.

The piece is sold, but you can go to his Web site, Missouri Plain Folk here.

11 comments:

Jan said...

Great story.
Great image of the family.
Would've been tragic if that piece had not been saved.

The pale observer said...

You would be my mom's hero. She LOVES antique finds - and to have seen the piece in it's original place on the old house!

Excellent! Enjoy.

Candler Arts said...

That's a beautiful thing. So, did you buy anything at the show you want to share?

John Foster said...

No question, that having a photo like this gives the piece "the history" that almost all pieces like this NEVER have. It's a slice of the American story. And as authentic as you can get.

John Foster said...

Did not buy anything at the show—but will be featuring some more things from the collection time to time.

Joey said...

Wow, that is awesome. Ideally I would think you would want to display it against a dark wall like how he displayed it. The details just pop! And the photograph is incredible!

Hope it goes to a great home.

Jim Linderman said...

Don't you just love it? Praise the Lord for Antique Dealers. Seriously!
I think the best place to be is smack dab inbetween a picker and a museum, and that's where the good work gets done. Thanks for sharing.

Momo Luna said...

Great! I love it, the photographs and then at the end the antique piece in it's original place. I love it a lot. :-)

James Kingston said...

Really excellent, John! I love it.

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