Decorative Arts

Wheat Shaft in Shadow Box

Image of decorative wheat shaft in shadow box.

1904
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Larry H. Smith, 2011.082.0001

This decorative wheat shaft was placed on the grave of James Franklin Moss (1825-1904), a farmer from Jersey County. Wheat is a typical motif of mourning art. It symbolizes the divine harvest of death and the resurrection of the soul.

Phonograph

Image of Grand Busy Bee Disc Talking Machine.

c. 1906-1909
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Leslie Oldenettel in memory of Bernice Oldenettel, 1990.53.42

The phonograph had a profound impact on the way Americans experienced music. Prior to its invention, the only way to hear music was when it was played or sung live. Music was typically played in group settings, where all were welcome, and even expected, to sing along, and the melody was never played exactly the same way twice. The phonograph allowed people to listen to the songs they wanted to hear, when they wanted to hear them, and if they wanted to, they could even listen to them alone.

Silver Spoon

Image of silver spoon owned by Frances Todd Wallace, sister of Mary Todd Lincoln.

c. 1850
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Mrs. F. J. Patterson, 1971.35.750168

This silver spoon belonged to Frances Todd Wallace, sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. It was purchased from Chatterton’s Jewelry Store in Springfield (the same place where Abraham Lincoln bought Mary’s wedding ring). The spoon was eventually donated to the Illinois State Museum by Frances’s great-granddaughter.

Sewing machine

Image of sewing machine.

c. 1861-1870
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Gift of Arlene Jay Robb in memory of her DeGroff Jay ancestors, 2012.102.0060

This hand-crank sewing machine was used by Anna Haight Kipp DeGroff at her farmhouse in Kendall County during the 1860s. It is a New England style machine, manufactured by Charles Raymond. Small, light, and relatively inexpensive, this machine was a popular alternative to the larger, more expensive machines sold by Singer and Howe.

Parachute Wedding Dress

Image of parachute wedding dress.

1982
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Gift of Nancy Batchelder Fryxell, 2013.77

Nancy Batchelder wore this dress when she married David Fryxell on May 1, 1982. It was made from her father's World War II silk parachute. Walter Batchelder was hospitalized and unable to attend his daughter’s wedding, so Nancy made the dress as a tribute to him and as a way of having her father represented on her big day.

Wax Figurines

Image of wax figurines of outstanding Illinois women.

c. 1920s
Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum
Transfer from the Illinois State Historical Library,1970.28

These three wax figurines are representatives from a collection of 129 figurines depicting outstanding women in Illinois history. They were created by Minna Schmidt and donated to the Illinois State Historical Library in 1929. Harriet Sanger Pullman, left, was a socialite who supported hospitals, libraries, and schools. Julia Dent Grant, center, was the loving wife of Ulysses S. Grant. Elizabeth Byerly Bragdon, right, was a patron of music and the arts.

Beaded Flapper Dress

Image of beaded flapper dress.

1926
Illinois State Museum, Illinois Legacy Collection
Transfer from the University of Illinois,

This heavy, elaborately embellished dress comes straight out of Jazz Age Paris, where Anna King purchased it in 1926. Flapper dresses like these were specifically designed for dancing, as movement accentuates the dress.

Transfer Print Plate: Rochester Castle

Image of Rochester Castle transfer print plate, James and Roalph Clews Pottery, Staffordshire, England, 1815-1834.

James and Ralph Clews Pottery
Staffordshire, England
1815-1834

This plate was produced by James & Ralph Clews in Staffordshire. Their ceramics were commonplace on the American frontier. The image in the center of the plate is a distant view of Rochester Castle, on the River Medway, east of London. Portions of the castle date to the 11th century. English artist Joseph Mallord William Turner depicted the castle in his work Rochester Castle From The River, painted circa 1793.

Baluster, Ohio Building

Image of baluster, Ohio Building, 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
In 1890, lead architect Daniel Burnham took on the impossible task of designing a model city in Jackson Park in Chicago for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (also known as the Columbian Exposition, which commemorated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the New World). The trouble was, architects and builders had just over two years to complete the monumental task. This baluster, recovered in archaeological excavations, is from a roof balustrade on the Ohio Building. The White City, as the collection of Fair buildings was known, was built to last as long as the fair (about six months).

“Palestine” Refined Earthenware Plate

Image of “Palestine” refined earthenware plate.
In the early 1800s, potteries in the Staffordshire region of England were becoming more and more dependent on the American market at a time when relations between the two nations were sliding towards war. In the months leading up to the War of 1812, trade was suspended, and a financial crisis ensued that, according to pottery owner Ralph Stevenson, left one-third of pottery workers unemployed and 35 businesses shuttered. His business had just opened in 1810.

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