Saturday, January 30, 2010
RANDOM 341 OBJECT
Antique SKULL Print w INK POEM, W W Denslow of ROYCROFT-sold $236
William Wallace Denslow, a cranky old coot who smoked a corncob pipe and chewed tobacco, was the first professional artist to join the ranks of Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft shop, but he became very well known for another endeavor. He was the illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Lyman Frank Baum. And that’s not all by any means. His biography is worth reading just to get a feel for this old boy’s cantankerousness.
This framed piece is an original print of one of Denslow’s works with a section of Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Man,” apparently hand written in ink. When you read it, you may be reminded of Nietzsche or Sartre or maybe even Peggy Lee – “Is that all there is?” Futility, fatalism and downright despair – those are the obvious messages in this very small section of Pope’s long, rambling essay in verse.
Sorry ‘bout the reflections and glare. The work is behind glass with about a 1” space between the glass and the paper. The title is “What’s the Use?” It is signed “Denslow” with his trademark logo of a seahorse below. (Have you ever seen the iron seahorse andirons produced by the Roycrofters? They were the result of a design collaboration between Denslow and Hubbard.)
See the copyright date of 1899?
“Behold the child, by Nature's kindly law,
Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw:
Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite:
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper state,
And beads and prayer-books are the toys of age:
Pleased with this bauble still, as that before,
Till tired he sleeps, and life's poor play is o'er.”
Peggy Lee would have followed that up with; “If that’s all there is, I’ll keep on dancing.”
Random 341 object
BIG Antique FLOW BLUE PLATTER & Vegetable BOWL w CASTLE-sold $142
If you’re trying to fill a great big old cupboard with authentic antique flow blue, you’ll be able to live with the issues you’ll find on both pieces. The platter has a gouge in the surface, and the bowl has some chips, dings and other infirmities.
I could probably grab some books off the shelf and identify both the ink stamp and the impressed mark, but I’m going to leave that to you. At my age, staring at pictures of flow blue china patterns and marks for too long gives me the blind staggers.
Some people would say the two or three chips and the two tight hairline cracks would qualify the condition as “rough as a cob.” I wouldn’t. I’d find some gentler way of putting it. After all, I’m trying to eke out enough to make ends meet.