Popularized in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the term "tramp art" refers to hand-crafted decorative objects made by layering small wood chips. The edges of the wood were not carved, and the layers were held together with nails or with glue made from animals and heated to become adhesive. Most tramp art items were made with simple tools such as a pocket knife.

Contrary to popular belief, tramp art wasn't created by travelers in exchange for food or housing but by local untrained artisans. These artists were not anonymous, but instead celebrated, and often featured in newspapers and given awards.

Tramp artists utilized scrounged recycled materials such as cigar boxes, packing crates, and corrugated cardboard. Although the most common tramp art pieces are boxes, the style was used to decorate everything from frames to clock cases to furniture to crucifixes.

The heart motif is very prevalent in tramp art designs, and boxes with hearts (such as jewelry or sewing boxes) were often made as gifts for loved ones.

Tramp art was made world-wide, wherever materials were available, but it was more prevalent in areas with long, cold winters as it gave local men something to occupy their time. Although early historians believed that the style began in Europe, pieces seem to have originated in both Europe and the U.S. at the same time. European tramp art can sometimes be identified by the cigar boxes that were used, and many European tramp art pieces incorporate velvet and brass.

Tramp art was a predominantly male art form and open to individual interpretation. There are no set patterns or cultural styles, so each piece reflects the artistry and culture of its creator. No two pieces are identical.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

American Folk Art Museum

American Folk Art Museum

The American Folk Art Museum's website showcases current and past exhibitions along with their permanent collection… [read review or visit site]

Anonymous Works

Anonymous Works

This blog combines American primitive folk art, vintage vernacular photography, outsider art, and other interesting… [read review or visit site]

The Outsider Art Pages

The Outsider Art Pages

A modern look at folk and outsider art with a focus on what people are doing to keep these traditions alive. The si… [read review or visit site]

Folk Art in Bottles

Folk Art in Bottles

Whether you call them Bottle Whimseys, Whimsey Bottles, Puzzle Bottles, or Whimsies, this site showcases great folk… [read review or visit site]

Index of American Design

Index of American Design

The Index of American Design project (1935-1942) was an effort to catalog American decorative arts objects from the… [read review or visit site]

Stoveburner.com

Stoveburner.com

A stunning collection of 162 images of stoveburners, those corroded cast iron elements that power stoves, broilers,… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Early-20thc Folk Art, Carved Wood, Tramp Art Wood Box, NrEarly-20thc Antique Cigar Box Tramp Art Carved Wood Folk Art Primitive Box, NrReggae 45 Leroy Smart Wreck Up My Life Tramp HearTramp Hobo On Park Bench With Dog Figure For 1900 Victoian House PlaymobilVintage John Hill & Co Lead Tramp - Farm Garden Or HuntVintage Mechanical Folk Tramp Art Hand Carved Wood Cigarette Box Bird AntiqueA C Reed Talkin Bout My Friends Boogaloo Tramp Nike Chicago Northern Soul 45Antique Vintage Wooden Spice Box? Made In Germany Carved Tramp Art Mission StyleZombie Tramp 2 Nycc 2014 Exclusive Cover Dan Mendoza Comic-con Variant EditionVintage Velvet Double Frame Hand Made Tramp Folk Prison Art Match Stick DetailedVintage Unique Christ On Cross Ornate Framed Shadow Box Wall Decor Tramp Art?Two Scrolled Wood Folding Hanging Wall Shelves, 17" Tall, Similar To Tramp ArtTeenage Tramp One Sheet Movie Poster Robin Lane & Alisha Fontaine Adult Xxx 1973Mpc Saddle Tramp Bronco Roadster Model #1-0443 1/25 Unassembled Rare L@@k!Zombie Tramp 1 Nycc Exclusive Cover Nm Jamal Igle Comic-con Variant EditionZombie Tramp 2-4 (2013) 1 Risque Variant Cover Nm Range 1st Printing Set Of 3New Mens Archaic By Affliction Tramp Thermal Long Sleeve Shirt Black XlWdcc- "tramp In Love", Nib With Coa Vintage Antique Hand Standing Carved Tramp Art Cross / Crucifix Antique Old Wooden Folk Art Dated 1915 Tramp Art Wood Frame With Notation Zombie Tramp Ongoing #6 3 Different Covers - Pre-sell!!!Vintage Antique Handmade Old Wood "champions" Cigar Box Tramp Folk Art PrimitiveZombie Tramp #1 Nm- 9.2 Action Lab Comics 2013 Mature Readers1800's Era Primitive Hand Made Tramp Art Mirrored Vanity Jewelery Box No ReseZombie Tramp 1-4 Action Lab (2013-14) Low Print Run Comic Nm Range 1st PrintingsPair Of Tramp Art Handmade Picture Frames With Bird Lithos Vintage Tramp Art Picture Frame With House PhotoZombie Tramp #1 Variant Josh Howard 1 Of 1000 Limited Edition Action Lab (nmint)1950s Prison Folk Art Tramp Art Wallet Made From 4 Different Cigarette PacksOutlaw Biker Terry The Tramp Harley Panhead PosterSugar Tramp Colorado's Great Western Railway Signed Numbered Limited EditionAntique American Tramp Art Box By Hermitage Vintage Tramp Art Frame And Horse Racing Picture Harness RacingZombie Tramp 3 Nycc 2014 Exclusive Cover Dan Mendoza Comic-con Variant EditionAntique Flemish Art Pyrography Round Wooden Picture Frame Tramp Art Wood BurningZombie Tramp Ongoing #4 2 Different Covers - Pre-sell!!!Zombie Tramp #1 Variant Jerry Gaylord 2014 Ltd Edt 1 Of 1000 Action Lab 9.8 MntNew 2013 Forum The Tramp Mens Snowboard Boots Us Size 9.5Vtg 40s 60s Prison Tramp Art Folk Art Camel Cigarette Pack PurseVintage Tramp Art Mirror And/or Box Cover---from GermanyStar Wars Galaxy Guide 6 Tramp Freighters 1994 West End Games Rpg Book 40095Terry The Tramp Outlaw Biker 1%er Motorcycle Club Vagos Mc President Bio Book HbZombie Tramp #1 Cover Tmchu 2014 By Dan Mendoza Action Lab Danger Zone (mint+) Antique Old Vintage Tramp Art Cigar Shadow Box Hobo Pyrography Tramp Art Boxes. Vintage Hand Carved Wood Floral Tramp Folk Art Ottoman Kitchen Serving TrayCapodimonte Ipa Figurine Drunken Man/tramp On Bench With Skinny CatSaddle Tramp Cowboy Boots Mens Size 9 Antique 19thc Folk Tramp Art Carved Wood Tramp Art Wall Hanging Comb HolderSoul Funk 45 ~ Lowell Fulsom ~ Tramp ~ Kent ~ Mp3Folk Tramp Art Toilet Seat W/ Ass Cribbage Board 7 Cigarette Decoys/carvings/decoy/fake Smokes/crafts/folk Art/jokes/tramp ArtWestern Books Lot 6 Author Clint Hawkins Incl, Saddle Tramp Series, Doug HawkinsVintage Tramp Art Style Trinket Box - Used ConditionPrison Tramp Art Wood Match Sticks Box Folk Primitive Decorative 5.5' H X 10.5 LTramp Hippie Peasant Blouse Big Angel Sleeves Bust 36" 100% CottonCoast To Coast W/ Jack London By A No. 1 Famous Tramp/ 500,000 Miles For $7.61 Dick Tracy Action Figure "the Tramp"1955 Lady & The Tramp & Jock Comic Book Dell 4-color #629 NiceDick Tracy Steve The Tramp Figure Mosc (bt)