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J. Thomson Inn Sign

Probably 1799
Origin: America, New England
Overall: 61 1/2 x 37 1/4 x 3in. (156.2 x 94.6 x 7.6cm)
Eastern white pine, oil paint, and iron
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1956.707.1
A double-sided sign. The frame is mortised and tenoned. A single board set into mortises in the upper and lower rails is secured by moldings nailed to the perimeter of the painted panel.

Artist unidentified.
Label:No information linking the makers of signs of this design to chairmaking has surfaced to date. However, the skills of the turner who made this signboard were applicable to turned-chair construction. This may explain the similarity of this signboard to the backs of certain eighteenth-century Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine bannister-back chairs. Both the signboard and the chairs' stiles have turned balusters, blocks, and finials; decorative sawn crests; and double-arched stay rails. Moreover, the proportional relationship of the signboard to the frame corresponds to that of the rectangle formed by the row of split spindles on the chairs [note 1]. Some chairmakers may also hae made signs to supplement their income, and further study of primary data may verify the practice.
Painted on one side of the panel is an American eagle perched on a shield surrounded by flags, cannon, bugles, and a sword above a beaver; on the opposite side a beekeeper and an assistant are depicted opening a beehive. Both beavers and bees were common symbols for industriousness. Thomson's sign links patriotism with hard work, and both virtues are identified with Thomson's enterprise.
Provenance:The Old Print Shop, New York, NY.
Inscription(s):Painted on eaach side of the panel is "J Thomson/1799".