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Memory Bottle with Harmonica and Razor

early 20th century Unidentified glass bottle with composition dough embedded with metal, plastic, glass, and wood objects, gilded with bronze paint 12 3/8 x 6 3/8 in. diam. (31.3 x 16.1 cm. diam.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.306 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

Object - furniture - clock

Object - musical instrument - harmonica

Object - tool

Object - weapon - gun

sculpture

folk art

glass

metal

paint

plastic