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EXTREMELY RARE AND IMPORTANT HAMPSHIRE CO., VIRGINIA

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Lot 0268 Details

Description
EXTREMELY RARE AND IMPORTANT HAMPSHIRE CO., VIRGINIA (NOW WEST VIRGINIA) FRAKTUR, watercolor, ink, and gold leaf on paper. A birth and death record made for John Kelley featuring a spread-wing eagle perched on a flowering vine above "JOHN / KELLEY / Son of Thomas and Rosannah Kelley / Born June 25th 1847 Died July 3rd 1847 Aged 9 Days"; the lower section featuring birds with fanciful combs perched on the elongated leaves of a fantastical flowering plant and surrounded by a flowering vine; the whole within a drape-like border. Period green-painted frame with brass hanger. Attributed to the Shenandoah Valley Illuminated Artist, Winchester, VA area. Circa 1846. 10" x 8" sight.

Provenance: Collection of the late John and Lil Palmer, Purcellville, VA.
Purchased from Morgan Anderson, Keedysville, MD, 1997.
Dave Owings Auction, Winchester, VA, November 12, 1997.

Catalogue Note: This fraktur and the example in lot 269 are exceptionally fine and rare works of Southern folk art and represent two of only six known examples by this unidentified artist working in Frederick and Hampshire Counties in the 1840's and 1850's. The present examples record the birth dates and death dates of both Collam and John Kelley. Sadly, as was true of so many infants and toddlers of the 19th century, Collam lived to be approximately ten months old while John lived only nine days. These works were sold on November 12, 1997 at a Dave Owings Auction in Winchester, Virginia along with a third example made for their sister Elizabeth, born 1842. The details of Elizabeth’s certificate are not known at this time, and there is no record of her in later census data, so it is possible she died at an early age as well. Thus far, the majority of the known works by this artist are memorial records.
Another example sold at the June 22, 2013 Jeffrey S. Evans Americana Auction (lot 527) and may provide crucial evidence as to the identity of the artist. That example was produced for the death of Mary E. Jones in 1849. While a positive identity of Mary has not been established, it is likely that she was Mary Barrack Jones the wife of W. H. Jones. There are several candidates for W. H. Jones in the Winchester area including William Jones (b.c. 1810) who was listed as a "Painter" in the 1850 Federal Census for Frederick Co., a year after Mary’s death. The lettering and unique gilding employed by the creator of this group is atypical for fraktur work, however, it is characteristic of work by 19th-century sign painters. The 1841 instruction book, "A Treatise on Carriage, Sign, and Ornamental Painting" by Orson Campbell illustrates the EXACT Roman lettering seen on all examples in the group. This circumstantial evidence strongly supports the possibility that William Jones was the artist of this group of frakturs.
Another example, marking the 1806 birth of Elizabeth McDonald (1806-1850), was sold by Pook & Pook on June 19, 2009 (lot 66). Elizabeth's father was born in Frederick Co., and her mother was born in neighboring Hampshire Co., now West Virginia. A third example was produced commemorating the 1818 marriage of Benjamin and Rachel Stine of Frederick Co. It appears that Rachel died shortly after 1850. All of these works were likely created around 1850, the same time that William Jones is recorded as a painter in Frederick Co., VA. Research on this elusive artist is ongoing.
Condition
Excellent condition with minor areas of light staining, otherwise undamaged.
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EXTREMELY RARE AND IMPORTANT HAMPSHIRE CO., VIRGINIA

Estimate $10,000 - $15,000Apr 05, 2014
Starting Price $5,000
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Ships fromMt. Crawford, VA, United States
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