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Pump

1907-1915
Origin: America, Pennsylvania, Germania
Overall: 29 x 14 5/8 x 12 3/4in. (73.7 x 37.1 x 32.4cm)
Wood, steel, iron, and paint
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1968.701.1
A mechanized painted wooden sculpture activated by a hand crank. The crank is an extension of an indented rod that rotates a wheel on the opposite side of the piece; in between, the rod is held by figures of two men standing on a balustraded platform about 1/3 up from the bottom of the piece. Turning the crank makes the men appear to labor at turning the wheel; a wire attached to the wheel at a point near its rim it also attached to a horizontal platform above it, which supports a wagon on which two birds perch. The rotating wheel causes the upper platform to rock, which causes the wagon to roll back and forth. A man at the top of the sculpture works a water pump, activated by a wire attached to the wagon platform through the central shaft of the piece. The lowermost part of the sculpture consists of white-painted, quarter-round ribs or arches that adjoin the central shaft. The base is flat and painted green.
Label:John Scholl, a German immigrant, settled around Germania, Pennsylvania, in 1853. As a skilled carpenter, he set about building his own house and eventually other buildings in town, including the village church, brewery, and general store. Only after his retirement at the age of 80 did he began to make fanciful carvings. Using only his jackknife, he created some 40 works between 1907 and his death in 1916. He did not intend his pieces as playthings, but got satisfaction from his ability to plan and construct complex whimsies like this pump. When the crank is turned, two men turn a wheel that is attached by wire to a platform supporting a wagon with birds. As the wheel rotates, the platform rocks causing the wagon to roll back and forth. Meanwhile, the man on the top works a water pump.
Provenance:Probably Alma Knecht (the artist's granddaughter), Germania, Pa.; unidentified Pennsylvania dealer; Stony Point Folk Art Gallery, Stony Point, NY; Willard Gallery, New York, NY.