Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

Memory Decanter with Red Wax and Indian Head Penny

after 1904 Unidentified glass bottle and stopper with red wax embedded with metal, glass, shells, and coins overall: 11 x 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 in. (27.9 x 11.4 x 11.4 cm.) bottle: 7 11/16 x 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 in. (19.5 x 11.4 x 11.4 cm.) stopper: 3 11/16 x 3 1/4 x 3 1/4 in. (9.4 x 8.3 x 8.3 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.307A-B Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 26A


Luce Center Label

Some memory jars may have come from African American traditions of decorating graves with objects owned by the deceased. The objects embedded in the surface of these bottles and jars provide clues about when they were made or who made them. For example, Jug with Finial includes a campaign button for William Jennings Bryan, a Democratic presidential candidate between 1896 and 1908, while High-Buttoned Shoe shows a macabre row of teeth that may have belonged to the maker.

Keywords

Allegory - other - memory

sculpture

folk art

animal parts - shell

glass

metal

mixed media

wax