William? William Who? Williams?

Something just crossed my mind so here I sit, writing. I should be watching the "American Idol" but....

If your name was "William" you could have been cutting profiles in the early 19th century:
William Bache, William Doyle, William King, William Chamberlain, William Henry Brown, Henry William(s), Moses William(s). Did I miss some? Probably, but that is a lot of Williams!

I did not sleep well last night as many unanswered questions kept popping in my mind.

1. If sitters paid a shilling for a pair of hollow-cuts, did they take home the "inside" cuttings that Carrick called "hole in the doughnut" as well? Or were they the property of the cutters? I understand that Moses Williams kept two full barrels of those "hole in the doughnuts."

2. Where did artists get an idea of making hollow-cuts? It seems more appropriate to present the sitters with the "insides."

3. Artists never used black paper for hollow-cuts and then back them with white paper? Why?

4. Why couldn't cut-and-paste artists use white paper cut-outs and then mount them on black paper?

I "think(ed)" myself to sleep yesterday! It looks like it is back to square one again tonight.

Did Moses Williams walk around with an embossing device in his pocket? Or was the device mounted on to a wall for anyone to use? What is this silhouette that is being attributed to Moses William with the inscription, "Moses Williams, cutter of profiles"? Some writers have "etched" its attribution in stone. The penmanship, at least to me, does not even resemble that of early 19th century, and there is no provenance attributing the profile to Williams either. A simple inscription can always be added by anyone, anytime.


Silhouette Collectors Club

There is a very interesting, and a very informative, as well, "club" across the Atlantic. The writer/publisher is one knowledgeable researcher on the subject of British silhouettes. Each quarter, she sends a club bulletin packed with new information on silhouettes. I understand that she does not make a use of the internet nor does she have an access to a computer. Everything is done the "old-fashioned-way."She would take photos of silhouettes; make enough duplicates for each member of the club, and cut-and-paste the same onto each article contained in the bulletin! So each issue is filled with clear, actual photos on the subject. She also covers the auction routes (no internet auctions), providing readers with "prices realized," comments on rarity, condition and the like.

The cost of a year's subscription, four issues of the bulletin, is a nominal twelve pounds or about twenty us dollars within UK. Since airmail postage overseas is quite costly, as common courtesy, it is a good idea to remit double the required amount.....$40 US.


Update 1/23...Just rec'd the latest edition and she is now using a word processor. The newest edition has a "clean look" but I thought typewritten pages were nostalgic and charming.

c1805 Hollow Cut Silhouette

This is a very interesting piece for study. The frame seems to be original to the silhouette, made of wood over plaster, with the glass being an older replacement. Originally, the frame was quite chipped so I have taken the liberty to "fill-in" the plaster and touched up on the paint. Not the best job for sure but it is quite displayable.The wove paper has toned to a light coffee brown color and it is an even toning. To the observer's right, you will notice vertical stress marks of the paper along with a hairline stain. The actual cutting measures 85mm from the tip of her head to the tip of the bust, while the frame measures 4.5 inches in diameter.The image is a typical machine cut, c1803-1810, somewhat resembling the works from "Peale's Museum." It has no maker's mark. I believe I was able to attribute this work to a particular artist, with good confidence. Who do you think it may be? And why?

Gotta Have This Book

Don't let the word "British" have a negative affect here, please! I bet this author must have taken three lifetimes to complete this monumental work. This book weighs a ton, printed on quality stock with 800 pages! Talk about "illustrated." There is no other work on the subject that is more thoroughly illustrated! How can anyone write such a reference is totally mind-boggling. In order to understand American silhouettes, one must first understand its origin. Let's face it; British artists were "the cream of the crop." Mckechnie introduces the readers to different types of silhouette frames, which in most part were used here in this country as well. Then there are clearly defined illustrations of men, women and children, and what to look for in an attire to date the silhouettes. She goes even further with details of headgears etc. etc.and to top that of, there are very detailed biographies of artists, many American as well. And then, in-between those pages are ....You just gotta get the book!

Book You Must Have

This is the "bible" on the subject of American silhouettes. Although the original edition is long out of print, it is quite commonly available. The publisher must have printed plenty as it was the roaring twenties and the silhouette collecting was very popular. If one can not locate the original, which is unlikely, a collector can acquire a reprint edition under another title. Carrick (1875-1951) was born in Tennessee, married Prescott Skinner in 1901 and lived in New Hampshire. She was a contributing editor for The Magazine Antiques. After 77 years since its publication, collectors and dealers, alike, still thumb through the pages of this book, almost daily! It is just an amazing book with a wealth of information. This is not a catalog-like reference but a well-written book that is totally readable and quite charming and fun. I must have read each and every line well over one-hundred times! The book was published with its dust-jacket. Today, most copies are without it. This is a well-bound book and can take some real "kicking." if you can find a copy with "minty" jacket, price unclipped, with nice content and binding, you got yourself a real treasure. I have been looking for such a copy with no luck.


Silhouette Identification Guide

My Carrick's book is all torn apart. You may not believe this but I read it every night in bed. I fall asleep with it. I must have read about Saint Memin, Bache, Peale, Williams and the like over a thousand times. It is tough to remember what I read half asleep so I read them again and again. Still, I scarcely remember what I have read.

Why would anyone want a reprint of this book is beyond me. The original is quite common, priced right and "smells" good.

I have cut out most of the illustrations from the book and made identification guides, at a quick glance. They are pasted onto two panels of poster boards. I can see them from my bed. Perhaps that is why I dream about them. I am working overtime about silhouettes even in my dreams. A real nut case, you may say. I can not argue with you.

I think I found an unfinished Williams, quite similar to what Carrick illustrates. This, too, looks ugly and bald headed. Get the Carrick out and compare her silhouette with mine. Carrick does not mention whether that specimen has an embossed "WILLIAMS." Mine does not. Why would any artist put a signature on an unfinished work? But then, without the embossed mark how would Carrick know that it is by Williams? Strange! Many mysteries go unanswered.

With all due respect, and more, to Carrick, I believe she was shooting the breeze sometimes with her writing. I am not talking about Williams. Carrick sometimes got carried away with her words. Perhaps that is why the book is so enjoyable and readable. Nevill Jackson, a superb author on silhouettes, could not write like Carrick. Desmond Coke wrote with interest. But then, he was a novelist as well.

Carrick wrote about a hollow-cut silhouette by Martha A. Honeywell in the Magazine Antiques, in 1925 if I remember correctly. She does not mention it in her book. Did it turn out ot be misattributed or a bogus? Does anyone know?