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American Painted Tin Trunk

Presented here is a wonderful example of American Painted Tin in very fine condition and circa 1815.  It is very similar in concept and contains many of the design elements that define the work from Oliver Filley's Shop which operated in Bloomfield, Connecticut from 1800-1846. According to Gina Martin and Lois Tucker in Volume Three of American Painted Tinware, "no signed pieces by Oliver Filley have ever been found. It is therefore difficult to identify all the types of designs that may have been done at his shop."

As a starting point they use a trunk that has come down through the Filley family to begin to identify other Filley pieces.  It is Fig 1.1a on page 10 of Vol. 3.  Like the trunk pictured the background is asphaltum.  Next, there is an opaque white band painted across the trunk front and in our case it is filled with brushstroke designs in olive green separated by four dots in the shape of a triangle.  Below the band is a geometrically balanced pattern of six red units in our example with crescent shaped  painted overtones in yellow.  You'll note that the brushstroke design found under the red units is outlined in yellow as is our example.  The trunk lid has a row of red and yellow brushstrokes (also outlined) that extend along each end.  One row of these strokes runs from front to back while the other runs from back to front.  (See also Fig 1.12 on page 14.)  With all that being said it is possible to form an attribution to the Oliver Filley shop with confidence.  Nowhere in all my research did I find a shop with as many similarities to the piece presented here.

The Trunk measures 8-3/4" long by 4" wide and is 5-1/8" high.  Both the hasp and the handle are original and intact.  Dry, lightly varnished surface with strong, contrasting colors.  The surface color is as expected on Asphaltum that has aged over the years and the decoration is 99% intact with no touch ups.  It's a lovely Trunk that is a fine example of its genre` and the years have been kind to it.  It doesn't look brand new but more like an aging dowager to whom the years have been kind.


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