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Whimsy Bottle Folk Art; Chair and Early Photograph - c1890

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Wooden Folk Art Objects335 of 655vintage norvegian TROLL GNOME - signed Øien - Anton Sveen?Handmade Folk Art Articulated Dancing Man
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Posted 4 years ago

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rniederman
(280 items)

This was completely unexpected; it was a featured item in an auction a couple months back and I was hooked ... bid live via phone and won. For a while, it was a contest between myself and a floor bidder.

Everyone knows about ships in bottles but what about this? Presented here is a 7” tall bottle with a ladder-back chair inside. It’s a beautiful construction with a fully woven, two-color cloth seat. Okay, that’s a bit odd yet the crimson colored locked stopper is a puzzle unto itself. In other words, you cannot remove the stopper.

What made this interesting for me is a tipped in original photograph of Confederate Quartermaster Sergeant George Nelson Dexter Sr. (1829-1905) standing beside two flags. The lower is the original 3rd Regiment Georgia Volunteers' Flag, and the upper is an 1892 Reunion Flag. The photo is inscribed in graphite on the back: Commodore / G. N. Dexter Sr. / & 3 Ga Battle / Flag / maker G. N. / Dexter Sr. / Madison / Ga

An extraordinary amount of research was included with this Lot. For example, there is a copy of Dexter’s 1905 obituary appearing in the Atlanta Constitution with the following comment in an article entitled “‘Commodore’ Dexter Dead. Said that he was originator of Confederate Reunions”:

“It is said that Commodore Dexter was the originator of the confederate reunion. He got up the first one ever held-the reunion of the old Third Georgia regiment at Union Point some time in the seventies. He followed the flag from the beginning of the war until it went down.”

The seller of this Lot also included research about the flags in the photograph. Eventually another copy of this image was found in the collection of the Georgia Department of Archives & History (without the chair or bottle).

So who built the chair in the bottle? The auction description said Dexter made the bottle, and the inscription on the photograph would support this notion. Dexter was a talented man! Regardless, it is a wonderful and fun antique to accompany my camera collection.

Note – the images shown on this post were made by the auction house.

Comments

  1. walksoftly walksoftly, 4 years ago
    I can see why this had you hooked, fascinating!
  2. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, pops52!
  3. SEAN68 SEAN68, 4 years ago
    BEAUTIFUL!!!
  4. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Really nice. A patient gave my father one I think is identical, sans picture, in the early 50's. As a kid, I marveled at it trying to figure out how it as made. We lived 80 miles W. of Atl.
  5. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, aghcollect!
  6. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, David! ... the item is interesting in hand and I am very happy with it. There's a certain cuteness factor you cannot see in the photos.

    Thanks, ThriftyGypsy!
  7. walksoftly walksoftly, 4 years ago
    The craftsman must have got bored building ships in bottles & needed a challenge so stepped up his game.
    The amazing thing is the fact that there is so little room for assembly as it fills the bottle.
  8. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, Ben!
  9. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, Sean!
  10. SEAN68 SEAN68, 4 years ago
    Your very welcome Rob!!!
  11. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, vetraio50!
  12. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, blunderbuss2 ... please dig around for your folk art chair-in-bottle and post!
  13. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    I know where the bloody thing is. It's in my sister's garage in KY & I picked it up & looked at back in March. I talked to her about it but she said she didn't know how to photograph & post. I asked her if the bottoms of the chair legs were also pointed as I thought it might be kind of like a trademark of the maker. Her B daughter might do it during the holidays for her.
  14. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 4 years ago
    If you research "whimsey" you will find all kinds of info on these and how they were made and who made them. I seem to remember that the stopper played a part in identifying the maker. Too long ago to remember but they sure were an attention getter. Kids weren't allowed to touch them....only look and wonder. We always got told; Look with your eyes not your hands.
  15. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Hi fhrjr2 ... interesting ... there is a whole category of collectibles called "Whimsy Bottles". And it appears that the art form continues to this day. Thanks.
  16. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    After my last posting about this, I "Bing'd" "Chair in a Bottle" & found many hits. Seems they are collectable but could only find asking prices on ebay. Got that orig. ship n a bottle I would like to sell but hard to take pics that do it justice & the whisky bottle goes back to about 1850's.
  17. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    blunderbuss2 ... now you are obligated to post the ship in a bottle. And I agree photography is very difficult. I tried to photograph a detail of the chair's cloth webbing and didn't do a very good job.
  18. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Rniederman, I did poste it but that was before I knew to turn the flash off & get a good angle of light. After some experimentation, I still couldn't get exactly what I wanted, but better. I do see that a new bottle is easier to photo than one from the mid-1800's. I spent half an hour studying how to take pics of things like this & of course am an expert now. LOL! I tried & tried & discarded most. OK, I'll pull up those better pics & do a reposte.
  19. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, tom61375!
  20. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, Hunter!
  21. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, Jono!
  22. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, bratjdd!
  23. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, geo26e!
  24. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, Manikin!
  25. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, inky!
  26. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, catteann!
  27. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, petey!
  28. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Rniederman, just got pics of our chair in a bottle & posting now.
  29. AboundingOddities AboundingOddities, 4 years ago
    Amazing
  30. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, Leah!
  31. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    In inquiring about mine, I found that there was a man in Livonia.GA. Wherever that is. Just looked it up & it is close to Gum Log, GA or N.E GA.
  32. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Hi blunderbuss ... interesting that your whimsy bottle was also made in GA. The ladder-back chairs are somewhat similar. Thanks for posting yours. - Rob
  33. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    I'm not saying that mine was made in GA. It was given to my father in Anniston, AL, about 40 mi from GA border. Trying to get what is written on the chair from my sister. If it was a bar stool inside, I would have brought it home.
  34. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Interesting ... but wouldn't it cool if your whimsy bottle was made in GA? I'll be interested to learn what you find out (bar stool or not).
  35. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, AboundingOddities!
  36. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Got the info from sister on my bottle & posting on my site.
  37. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    Am I the only one who has an original chair-in-a-bottle and a ship-in-a-bottle? I thought everybody had a pair! LOL
  38. bottlewhimsies, 4 years ago
    Hello. My name is Chris Wood & I was the owner who sold the bottle through Cowan's & the one who did all the research. A good way you can know this is the pictures of the memorial obelisk in Macon in the research papers I included. I live in Kentucky & would love to talk to you more about it. Did you get the CD of the If Walls Could Talk show featuring the maker? I was so glad to find this as I was going to always wonder who the bottle went to otherwise. I both make, research, restore, buy, & sell bottle whimsies, items built through small necks inside of bottles. You can see me & some of my work by googling Chris Wood bottles & going to the first one. I have sold them from $20-$7000 a piece but this was the first I've ever sold at auction (and will probably be the last). Anyway, not sure how you can contact me exactly, perhaps use my junk email rocnarmood@hotmail.com but I'm not sure if emails will post here or not. Anyway, would love to hear from you & thanks for posting. Regards, C
  39. bottlewhimsies, 4 years ago
    To clarify what might be misunderstood, I have sold old ones for the prices listed, not my own work, which I have only ever sold three of, one for $22, one for $185, & one for $450. But very few old bottle whimsies are worth truly high prices & this bottle without the photo would have been worth around $100 because of its age & that it had a locking trick stopper & was flush to the sides which makes it more difficult & it you could've maybe gotten up to at most around $200 if you were willing to wait a long time to sell it. Most chairs bring between $35-$100 & you can confirm this on eBay. They have to have something very special & interesting to increase their price, as they are one of the most common forms available. However, even being common, they are still rarely seen by the general public.
  40. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Hi Chris. Thank you for writing. I replied to your e-mail and would enjoy learning more details about this particular whimsy.
  41. bottlewhimsies, 4 years ago
    I should have said that I did not do any restoration to this piece as it was in perfect condition when I got it.
  42. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    How could you possibly do restorations?
  43. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, fortapache!
  44. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, headhuntress!
  45. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, Moonstone!
  46. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
    Thanks, Vintagefran!
  47. rniederman rniederman, 3 years ago
    Thanks, charmsomeone!
  48. rniederman rniederman, 1 year ago
    Thanks, Caperkid!

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