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Dimensions (inches): 9.25" t x 57" w x 6" d
Carved wooden eagle, attributed to the shop of the most renowned, American, 19th century carver of the form, John Haley Bellamy (1836-1914). A prolific artisan and entrepreneur, who considered himself more the latter than the former, this is one of Bellamy’s bread and butter forms, sold as decoration for ship stern boards, to be hung above the entry doors of private homes and businesses, or for any other location, indoors or out, on boats or on land, where patriotic adornment was desired.

Although Bellamy’s career as a carver began in his boyhood town of Kittery, Maine in the 1850’s, he appears to have carved his first stand-alone eagles (those not a part of something else) in the fall of 1872, when, working from a home base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, he did so for a man by the name of Oscar Leighton on the Isles of Shoals, which bridge the border between New Hampshire and his home state of Maine. He reproduced one of the two carvings to have on hand to sell, then began producing others and selling them all over the greater Portsmouth area. By 1873 he had carved so many that he exclaimed, “If I stay here a short time longer [I] shall have them [eagles] over every door.” (Smith, p. 21). Renting bench space at first in Portsmouth and working alongside other carvers, then his own space at 17-18 Daniel Street, Bellamy established production-line methods in order to turn out carvings in quantity. Smith describes them as being “like snowflakes in a storm, alike but different” (p. 37). Bellamy was a drunk, known to be temperamental, which no-doubt led to further variation.

Many of Bellamy’s eagles are gilded. Some are painted white. Most are decorated in red, white, and blue, and sometimes black. Because his works were both commissioned and produced for stock, anything was possible.

Made sometime between the 1870’s and the 1890’s, the most profound feature of this example is the exaggerated, elongated profile that allows it to fit in a very narrow space. This adds a great measure of folk quality to the already beautiful, flowing form. The surface is gilded, with the elegant head and neck, distinctive to Bellamy’s carvings, sweeping gracefully upward. A 3-star, 3-stripe, tapered, patriotic pennant wraps about the neck of the bird, trailing off towards the tail. At approximately 57” in length, this is an especially large example.

Condition: The surface was heavily cleaned by a previous owner. I added a coat of dark wax.
Primary Color: gold
Earliest Date: 1875
Latest Date: 1890's
For Sale Status: Sold
Price SOLD
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