Sneak Peek: Anonymous Artistry

June 14, 2012

By Jared Ainscough

When Cheryl and Jeffrey Katz send me the items they have selected for our Elements department, occasionally they include a few photos that don’t make it into the magazine. Recently one photo came through that I knew I had to share, regardless. Our July/August 2012 Elements features a selection of beautiful frames–from sleek and modern to traditional and ornate. But this frame, from dealer Clifford A. Wallach, is a horse of a different color. The tramp art frame is a true oddity, and a true work of art. Carved by hand (almost certainly with a straight-edge razor) circa 1900, the piece blurs the border between art and frame. The picture within is a postage stamp, while the frame itself is a sprawling wooden collage of detailed hearts and spikes. It has the deep rich finish and chunky silhouette of a German cuckoo clock.

Tramp art frame, circa 1900, with a mounted postage stamp collage of a man at a campfire. All photos courtesy of Clifford A. Wallach

And just think–if this is the frame that didn’t make the cut, what do the frames in the magazine look like? You’ll have to wait until the issue hits the newsstands to find out. But, to tide you over, here are a few more examples of Wallach’s wares.

1890s tramp art cupboard

Tramp art vanity on turned legs, circa 1915–1925

Tramp art box with carved leaves, from the 1920s or ’30s