Why We Love It – Minstrel Folk Art
Published on February 19, 2012 :: No Comments
Today is the first in a new series here on Tandem Antiques blog.
The idea is to look at something in our inventory, and discuss why it’s in our inventory – what is good, interesting, unusual and valuable about it. Why we love it — because most of the things we buy and sell are chosen because we love them!
So, read on! All kinds of fascinating information coming your way. With pictures, of course.
This is an early 20th century advertising sign for a minstrel show, hand-painted on paper. It came out of a bunch of papers and ephemera from a house near Albany NY. It was loose, folded over amidst other old but much less interesting items. We had it mounted and framed to preserve and protect it.
It is actually two pieces of paper, with the picture on one and the words on another. They were glued together long ago, and at one side someone put a little black safety pin on it where the glue was not holding. (It’s details like that safety pin that just get me. Do you know what I mean?) So when I took it to my framer I stressed the importance of leaving that pin in place! Luckily, he gets it too.
Another feature of this piece is the name – 9A Minstrel. If you’ve ever ventured north of New York City, you have likely encountered at least one of New York State’s Route 9′s. There’s a bunch of them! There’s 9G and 9H and 9W and lots more. So I investigated, expecting to find 9A somewhere upstate. But what I found is that NYS Route 9A is the West Side Highway starting at the Battery Tunnel, then becomes the Henry Hudson Parkway and heads north above the city up to Peekskill. Who knew? So what’s cool about that is that the minstrel show advertised here might have been right in Manhattan!
The hand painting is naive but incredibly charming, and I really love the lettering. The face, red kerchief, yellow umbrella and raindrops all add to the feel. Inside the banner on the left side it said “Let a smile be your…” referring to the umbrella above it. Sweet.
There is a long rich history of minstrel shows, and I’ve learned just a bit of it here. This painted sign dates from the 1910s or 20s and represents the waning years of minstrel show popularity.
Steve and I enjoy this piece on several levels – it is a charming example of folk art with pleasing colors and composition, it is a sign (love signs!) with terrific graphic appeal and it is a concrete piece of history, referring to a genre of entertainment that no longer exists.