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This exceptional patriotic scherenschinitte was executed by Isaac Stiehly, the most renowned of all Pennsylvania Germans who pursued this form of artistry. Stiehly worked in the Mahantango Valley, a small, pocketed area where some of the state's most valuable and sought after examples of 19th century folk art have surfaced.

While other men and women pursued paper cutting, few produced works of the quality of Isaac Steiely. His skill can be seen in several aspects of this example, including the lift work within the eagles' feathers, the chain border around both fanciful medallions, and the word "Liberty", which appears in fine script.

Some of Steihly's surviving scherenschnitte share a patriotic theme which seriously heightens their interest among collectors. It's particularly great to see the image of the rattlesnake included--a distinctly American reptile and so popularized in modern times from the reproduction of the "Don't Tread on Me" flag (Gadsen flag) of the colonial era. The eagle has a shield upon its breast and clutches the staff of a 13 star American national flag in its beak.

Note that the stars of the flag are arranged in a format that consists of a wreath of 8 stars surrounding a single, center star, with a flanking star on each corner of the blue canton. This configuration is seldom ever seen before the onset of the Civil War in 1861 and didn't become popular until the 1876 centennial and after, but it does appear in pre-1861 illustrations on rare occasion.

The 3rd Maryland design, by contrast, which consists of a wreath of 12 stars with a single center star, was not only more popular in the period prior to 1860, but is also the star pattern most often seen on early patriotic paper cuttings, most notably in Stiehly's own work. A copy of one of the Steighly's most famous works is documented in "Stars and Stripes: Patriotic Motifs in American Folk Art" by Harding, pg 242.

A brief history of Isaac Steighly (1800-1869):
According to an article by Bev Norwood, Stiehly became a Pennsylvania German Reformed pastor in 1824 and served the church and his community until his death in 1869. "[He] was a multi-talented folk artist", says Norwood. "His paint decoration on Mahantongo Valley furniture is among the best of its kind. His decoration featured stylized birds, fanciful hearts, splendid tulips, striking compass stars, corner fans and vibrant rosettes. He also carved more than 400 gravestones in 20 churchyards within a 12-mile span for his parishioners and neighbors.

In the realm of paper cutwork, Stiehly's genius ultimately defines "best" in scherenschnitte. He artfully combined sophisticated paper cutwork skill, fanciful design quality, inventive interpretation and savvy personalized features into sheer Stielhy's remarkable paper cutworks of baptismal certificates, family records and unabashed patriotism are unparalleled." (New England Antiques Journal, 2008).

Mounting: The parchment and its original black backboard are mounted in the original gilded frame with the original glass. An archival backing was loosely inserted behind the black background for stability. To read the article "A Cut Above: The Art of Scherenschnitte, With Homage to Isaac Stiehly, Marvel of Mahantongo Valley", please visit the following address:
Primary Color: white, black
Earliest Date: 1830
Latest Date: 1850
For Sale Status: Sold
Price SOLD
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