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Article: American Eagle Carver George Strapf

19th Century

American Eagle Carver George Strapf

A patriotic work, this hand-carved wooden eagle by American artist George Strapf is a stunning example of early Pennsylvanian craftsmanship. The carving dates to the end of the turn of the 20th century, sometime between 1890-1918. The intricately carved eagle boasts a long, swooping neck that supports a flagpole carrying a spectacular 35-star American flag. Each star is carved, rather than simply painted, and the stripes are carved as ripples, conveying a dramatic sense of movement. 

Vintage Hand-Carved, Painted and Parcel-Gilded Wood Eagle with American Flag, by George Strapf (detail)

This eagle has an open and curved beak, similar to the work of famous folk artist John Haley Bellamy. However, eagle carvings by Strapf are more scarce and harder to find on the market than Bellamy carvings.  Only in the last few decades has George Strapf’s work been identified, making his decorative carvings exceedingly rare. 

George Strapf (1862-1958) was the son of a German engineer and active as a carver in Pennsylvania. In 1890, Strapf moved to Harrisburg, PA with his brother to open a carpentry business. He specialized in carving ornate spiral staircases. His large carpentry jobs were put on hold during the winters, due to inclement weather, which prompted Strapf to carve eagles as a way to supplement his income. 

Between 1890 and 1918, the Strapf created striking eagle carvings, many of which clutched a shield and had a long, curving neck wrapped around a flagpole, such as this example. Throughout his career, Strapf produced large stylized carvings for government buildings and veterans’ halls, as well as smaller eagles for households. Our eagle measures in at an impressive 22” H x 29 ¾” W – the perfect statement piece. 

Check out this George Strapf wooden eagle and our other eagle carvings, bronzes, and bookends available to purchase from our collection!

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