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Birth Record for Martin Kaufmann

1840 (possibly)
Origin: America, Virginia, Shenandoah (now Page) County
Primary Support: 15 3/8 x 9 1/2in. (39.1 x 24.1cm) and Framed: 20 5/8 x 14 5/8 x 1 1/2in. (52.4 x 37.1 x 3.8cm)
Ink and watercolor on laid paper
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1974.305.5
A vertical format decorated birth record. Top and bottom borders are defined by thick red lines and, in each of them, flowers springing from hearts face one another. The center section consists of Gothic Fraktur-style lettering, the first line of lettering being much larger than the rest. The letters are filled in with various colors.
The 3-inch mahogany cyma reversa molded frame is a replacement that probably dates from the period of the watercolor.
Label:The subject was born in 1815, but probably his certificate was made many years later. Martin Kaufmann's courtship of and 1840 marriage to Jacob Strickler's daughter, Mary (b. 1822), may have occasioned the piece. Strickler's birth record for Kaufmann's sister Anna (b. 1810) also survives and likely was made about the same time.
The decorative hearts with flowers in their interiors and the style of writing are typical of Strickler's other known work. The decorator often favored small, delicate elements. Here, the tiny flowers within larger flowers, as seen in the two confronting tulips at top and bottom, and the little buds terminating the calligraphic embellishments above and below the text illustrate two ways in which he used such motifs.
Provenance:This piece was acquired, along with 11 others (see "Related Works") from Jesse Modisett, Augustus M. Modisett, Harold M. Modisett, and Mrs. Lawrence H. Modisett. Jesse Modisett's letter to Don Walters dated December 19, 1974, identifies the three last-named relations as his brothers and sister-in-law. Ownership prior to the Modisetts' has not been recorded.
Mark(s):No watemark noted.
Inscription(s):The front of the certificate is inscribed in Gothic-style lettering in dark brown ink, with spaces within letters filled in red, blue, or yellow watercolor. It reads: "Martin Kauf:/mann ward geboren/in Schenandoah caunty/virginien: den fünfzehn/ten tag jener im jahr chri/sti ein tausend acht hun:/dert und fünfzehn: seine/eltern waren jacob kauf:/mann und sein ehe weib barbara:".
The English translation, provided by Pastor Frederick S. Weiser, reads: "Martin Kaufmann was born in Shenandoah County, Virginia, the fifteenth day of January in the year of Christ one thousand eight hundred fifteen. His parents were Jacob Kaufmann and his wife, Barbara."