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Uncle Sam Recruiting Figure

ca. 1916-1918 Unidentified (American) carved and painted wood and mixed media 59 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 21 1/2 in. (151.0 x 26.7 x 54.6 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson 1986.65.337 Not currently on view

Luce Center Label

This carved Uncle Sam is a “serving statue,” made to carry a tray of food or drinks. The character of Uncle Sam dates from the War of 1812 and was based on “uncle” Samuel Wilson, of Troy, New York, whose firm provided the army with meat during the war. When residents of Troy saw the “U.S.” on the barrels, they thought of Uncle Sam, and his name soon became associated with national pride. An unknown artist created this statue during World War I, probably inspired by the famous 1917 “I Want You” recruiting poster.


Cartoon - political - Uncle Sam

Figure male - full length


folk art

animal parts - leather

animal parts - shell - mother of pearl

metal - iron