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The Historical Society of Early American Decoration Collection

 Collection
Identifier: A0031

Scope and Contents

The Historical Society of American Decoration (HSEAD) Collection includes original stencils, ledgers, scrapbooks, and ephemera. The original stencils are by several prominent individuals, including Willian Page Eaton, George Lord, Joseph A. Gibson and Esther Stevens Brazer. Ledgers, account, books, daguerreotypes and ephemera are mostly related to the Stevens and Butler families. There are also several hundred lantern slides depicting early examples of decorated housewares and both interiors and exteriors of houses.

Also included is Esther Stevens Brazer's notes on the chronological history of early American decoration.

When the collection was first given to the American Folk Art Museum, it included original materials such as artworks, ledgers, books, stencils, ephemera, etc., as well as tracings and research done by HSEAD members. At a certain point, the tracings done by HSEAD members were returned, along with any member research. Some of this research has been digitized and is accessible on site.

Dates

  • Majority of material found in c. 19th century

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Access to sensitive materials may be restricted at the discretion of the American Folk Art Museum.

Conditions Governing Use

The Historical Society of Early American Decoration Collection is owned by the American Folk Art Museum. The collection is subject to all copyright laws, and is dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship.

Biographical Note

The Historical Society of Early American Decoration (or HSEAD) is a group of practicing guild artists who conduct education programs, research and exhibitions to perpetuate and expand the unique skills and knowledge of Early American Decoration. Decorated articles from the homes of our forefathers are the focus of our work. These include furniture, cornice boards, painted tin trunks, coffee pots, trays, bellows, glass panels in clocks, gilded looking glasses, and painted and stenciled walls and floors. Thirteen affiliated local chapters carry the mission of the Society. Members work individually and in workshops taught by certified instructors in stenciling, pontypool painting, gold leafing, Victorian flower painting, penwork, reverse glass painting, clock dials, country painting, freehand bronzing and theorem painting. The society extensively researches original decorative art from the period of the 1700-1800s. In addition to several books and videos, members continue to publish articles for The Decorator (the official publication of the Society) and other publications. The Society also has an awards program for outstanding teaching and craftsmanship in various fields, and maintains a lending library of authentic original early American designs.

In 1946, a group of students formed HSEAD to honor the memory and perpetuate the work of their teacher, Esther Stevens Brazer (1898-1945). Brazer, the accepted authority on Early American Decoration, was a pioneer in recognizing it as a valuable art form. She was a diligent researcher, teacher, and the author of Early American Decoration, the first book on the topic. She devoted many years to studying and preserving original pieces, and elevating the standards of reproducing decoration.

Source: Historical Society of Early American Decoration, http://hsead.org/about-us/

Extent

9 linear feet (3 standard document cases; 1 half-size document case; 4 oversized flat cases 18 x 13 x 3"; 2 oversized flat cases 15 x 12 x 3"; 1 oversized flat cases 16 x 13 x 4"; 1 oversized flat cases 19 x 15 x 3"; 2 oversized flat cases 25 x 19 x 3"; 7 glass slides cases 11 x 5 x 5"; 2 index card cases 5 x 3 x 4")

Language of Materials

English

Overview

In 1946, a group of students formed The Historical Society of American Decoration (HSEAD) to honor the memory and perpetuate the work of their teacher, Esther Stevens Brazer (1898-1945). Brazer, the accepted authority on Early American Decoration, was a pioneer in recognizing it as a valuable art form. The HSEAD Collection includes original stencils, ledgers, scrapbooks, and ephemera. The original stencils are by several prominent individuals, including Willian Page Eaton, George Lord, Joseph A. Gibson and Esther Stevens Brazer.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged primarily by size and material, as well as by original order. Original stencils are arranged both by creator, as well as what the stencil depicts (cherubs, etc.), and where it should be stenciled (clock face, chair, etc.) when the creator is unknown. The collection has been inventoried to the file level.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of The Historical Society of Early American Decoration Collection, 1990

Related Materials

The gift from HSEAD included a substantial collection of 18th and 19th century ornamented tinware and glass, papier mache and wood, which were all accessioned into the permanent collection of the American Folk Art Museum.

Separated Materials

Four items are in library collection:
• Poetical Works of Robert Burns (87.17)
• A Select Collection of Valuable and Curious Arts by Rufus Porter (84.14) (TP857.C67 P67 1826)
• The Art-journal nos. 32 and 33 (HSEAD 233A and 233B on spines; 84.17 from inventory) (bar code 8261)
Title
A Guide to the Historical Society of Early American Decoration Collection
Author
Mimi Lester
Date
April 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the American Folk Art Museum Archives Repository

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