It’s gratifying that after thirty-four years and counting,
our Directory of Traditional American Crafts
continues to feature veteran artisans as well as
newcomers. We’re always happy to show the work
of those who have never entered—it’s our way of
encouraging budding traditional craftspeople to seek
the Directory’s imprimatur and join those master
makers whose work graces period homes, museum sites
and gift shops, and the settings of historical feature films.
We showcase the work of this year’s museum-quality
artisans at Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island,
New York, settled by a melting pot of ethnic groups from
throughout Europe some four centuries ago. The site has
forty-five structures to portray its history from settlement
to the present, and so plenty of appropriate display spaces
for photographing the artisans’ objects.
considered to be
of museum quality
genre appear elsewhere
in this issue.
Bruce and Barbara
while not historic
the interior of a
where fine English
antiques mix with
the work of America’s
Further, a carefully
fills every cupboard,
graces every mantel
and tabletop, and
lines long shelves
in the couple’s
The McRitchies studied with experts before choosing the
best pieces they could find, from Chinese dynasty porcelain
to 16th-Century German stoneware to 17th-Century and
18th-Century British creamware, delft, and stoneware.
Always learning, the couple has recently branched out, adding
maps and miniature portraits to their collections.
You might not envision rolling pins as museum
objects, but these ubiquitous household tools came in an
assortment of styles and materials, depending on their
purpose. Sailors sometimes made them from exotic woods
and whalebone, and the Shaker communities made them
as well—and yes, you can find them in museums.
And then there are eagles. Once Congress adopted the
Great Seal of the United States with the bald eagle as its central
motif, artists and tradesmen began incorporating it on
every type of object imaginable, formal as well as whimsical.
Mints and metal workers engraved the bird on coins
and presentation pieces. Carvers and furniture makers
added three-dimensional figures to architecture, ships,
and tall clocks. Painters limned it on landscapes and
ceramics, while printers inked it on newspaper mastheads
and magazine covers. Young girls learning to stitch and
housewives already proficient with a needle incorporated
it onto quilts and samplers.
Most of these makers took artistic license with the
all were recognizable
so too did the
what look like frog
legs to the soaring
majesty of the
real bird in flight.
In either case, its
likeness spread as
quickly as Americans’
pride in their
new and independent
within a few years
of the Great Seal’s
adoption in 1782,
the bald eagle
came to symbolize
the United States
And, as one
museum curator noted, if an object bore an eagle, it held
more appeal for early buyers. Now those objects—our
antiques—sell for more because an eagle decorates them.
See how many you can spot on the following pages.