Made in the mid-20th century by The Artistic Carving Company in Boston, this bald eagle was excellently carved from one solid piece of pine. The deep-relief carving depicts the gilt eagle looking over its left shoulder with widespread wings. It clutches a shield with 13 stars in its right talon and 2 furled banners in its left.
The Artistic Carving Company specialized in folk art eagles in the fashion of John Bellamy. The company went out of business in the 1950s but this plaque still survives. This bald eagle carving presents its massive wings while supporting a polychrome shield. Unlike the official seal, the shield has only 7 vertical stripes as opposed to 13, however 13 white stars are carved into the blue banner underneath.
The history of the eagle as a symbol in the United States began with the birth of the nation in 1776. Many different symbols were used to represent the new country before the Continental Congress decided on the Great Seal in 1782, but the eagle was popular long before. Three separate committees between 1776 and 1782 met and formulated a seal to present to Congress. In the end, a revision submitted by the Secretary of the Continental Congress, Charles Thomson, became the official seal and symbol of the nation. The bald eagle and shield seen on this plaque are based on Thomson’s design. This deep-carved eagle plaque is a great example of American symbolism in decorative and folk art of the mid-20th century and remains an important representation of strength, freedom, and wisdom.
The plaque itself is decorated with the original polychrome paint and is in overall good condition. The white pigment in the star recesses is worn, showing the pine wood underneath. One small chip on the proper left wing and three nail holes on the back from previous hanging materials. Despite some wear, this eagle plaque is in good condition with few imperfections and a very good age-darkened patina.
Dimensions: 9” H x 28” W x 2” D
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