Memory Bottle with Harmonica and Razor

  • Unidentified, Memory Bottle with Harmonica and Razor, early 20th century, glass bottle with composition dough embedded with metal, plastic, glass, and wood objects, gilded with bronze paint, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1986.65.306

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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.

Title
Memory Bottle with Harmonica and Razor
Artist
Date
early 20th century
On View
Dimensions
12 3/8 x 6 3/8 in. diam. (31.3 x 16.1 cm. diam.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson

Mediums
Mediums Description
glass bottle with composition dough embedded with metal, plastic, glass, and wood objects, gilded with bronze paint
Classifications
Keywords
  • Allegory – other – memory
  • Object – tool
  • Object – furniture – clock
  • Object – weapon – gun
  • Object – musical instrument – harmonica
Object Number
1986.65.306
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI