Paint Decoration

Assembled Collection of Pennsylvania Paint-Decorated Canisters
  • First, please note that there are a lot of photos and the thumbnails for all of them must download before you can open any of the larger photos. Please be patient as we tried to include enough photos to show the whole story of each fabulous piece.

    We have all lusted over this type of vinegar & putty or rag-rolled faux-grained canisters from Pennsylvania. They come so rarely and, if you want a collection, the chances of finding 4 pieces that look good together is a real long-shot. So, we were thrilled to find this assembled collection of four (three canisters plus lids and a super rare cup). All have original paint with a nice dry surface and plenty of paint decoration to draw the eye. These are all true treen (i.e. the tops and bottoms of each are cut from the same piece of wood) and lathe turned. The tops have shrunk with age just like the bottoms so that all tops fit nicely, but since they are all off-round the tops only fit if turned the same direction as the body. If they had been turned from different pieces of wood, the tops would not have shrunk in harmony and you would have tops that don’t fit correctly.

    The tallest canister, A, is an ovoid form with a subtly defined lip, swelled body and a flared foot. The lid’s knob is turned from the same wood as the lid itself (not made separately and then screwed in). The decoration includes some well-defined combing through the paint as well as some single dramatic lines and some putty smudges. This one has a glued crack on one side—check the photos as I’ve pointed out the crack with arrows. It displays wonderfully with the crack turned toward the back and even facing frontward because the crack barely shows from the outside. This tall one is 7 3/4" diameter x 8 1/2" tall.

    The beautiful wide jar or canister, B, has bright, beautiful yellow and red over yellow paint decoration. It has a pronounced lip and foot with a swelled belly but gives an overall squat look next to the A canister. This is classic putty decoration created in vinegar laced pigments while the paint was still sticky-wet. You can see that the artist dipped, lifted, dipped, lifted…to create a fan and dabbed the putty or a thumb to create the circles. This is a spectacular painted piece. It measures 7 7/8" diameter x 7 1/8" tall. The lid has a repaired break and a lost piece at second break. The finial has string wrapped around it and we don’t know what that is about. We don’t see any indication of a break there. It has a good look with the string so we are leaving it. There are a few nibbles at the body’s upper edge as seen in the photos. No biggie. The B canister is the most beautiful displayed so that the lid breaks are facing the back. Truly, this type of utilitarian treen generally has developed some problems by the time it has been around 165 or so years. I mean, Randy and I don’t have nearly that much combined age and we have developed some age problems, ourselves!

    The smallest of the lidded pieces, C, mimics the shape of B. It also has the pronounced lip and foot with a swelled belly. C measures 5" diameter x 4 3/4" tall. C has a little wood loss on the inside edge of the lid—not visible when displayed at all.

    D is the first cup we have had in this type of paint. It has vibrant red over yellow paint with fans and dots like the B cannister. This little guy is only 3 3/4" diameter x 2 3/8" tall. Together they will make your collector friends green with envy because you have a collection. Second quarter 19th century—great example of both the American Fancy Period and of the Pennsylvania German culture of the period.

    #7042     $5500 set (7 pieces)