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Americana Celebrates the Red, White and Blue

Summertime and the Fourth of July make me think of Americana antiques. I don’t think you can find a more enthusiastic flag waver than an avid fan of this category of collectibles.

This category of antiques includes colorful reminders from our country’s past and its small town, rural beginnings.

What a big category it is, too! Advertising items, posters, quilts, kitchen tools, glassware, pop culture items, country store memorabilia and even carousel horses are some of the fun items that make up the classification of Americana.

Many museums, including our own Mansion Museum at Oglebay, have big Americana displays, such as the Wymer General Store and the Sinclair Pharmacy exhibit, both donated by local families.

Summer hours at the Mansion are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, so it’s a perfect place to tour if you’re looking for close-to-home entertainment too. Visitors enjoy remembering the past and connect to many of the old-time treasures displayed there daily.

American is so inclusive and plentiful that it can become overwhelming to a collector and most will eventually have to trim it down and focus on just a few items like political art or posters.

In the 1970s, Americana grew into a really hot collectible and fans of country decorating got into the look and added vintage items to their homes like tins, baskets or glassware.

Tons of Early American reproduction furnishings were turned out to meet this need so there are lots of fakes on the market too.

Today Americana is often referred to as farmhouse or rustic decorating, and country style is still in vogue but usually it’s mixed in with other styles like mid-century modern. Traveling trunks are a good example of an Americana item that mixes well with other styles of decorating.

The real antique enthusiast recognizes that there is a distinct difference between classic Americana and trendy treasures. Classic Americana dates to around 1720 – 1850, according to experts, and includes the big names in furniture like Queen Anne, Chippendale and Hepplewhite.

I admire the workmanship and value in Americana treasures. This was a time when mass production was just getting started and many items were still handcrafted and carefully created by workplaces and craftsmen and women interested in quality.

Nostalgia is a big part of Americana and even though the dollar value of many Americana collectibles have dropped over recent years, these antiques remain attractive to the right collector and in the right home.

Like all antiques, Americana treasures now have to compete with technology and the overwhelming popularity of electronics, big screen TVs and the trend to minimize and downsize.

So, whether you enjoy fine 18th and early 19th century Americana furniture, paintings, period accessories, American folk art, advertising, quilts or glassware, enjoy your treasures and celebrate the great USA and its past in a special way this summer and have a Happy Independence Day!

For comments or suggestions on local treasures to be featured in Antique of the Week,Maureen Zambito can be reached via email at zambitomaureen@hotmail.com.

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