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Andrew Clemens folk art sand bottle with rose over McGregor, Iowa, Oct. 1892 caption and sailing ships on verso; image credit on full record.
Andrew Clemens folk art sand bottle, backside with ships and cattails; image credit on full record.
Andrew Clemens folk art sand bottle, the geometric border trim; image credit on full record.

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Sand Bottle; Clemens (Andrew), Rose, Sailing Ships, signed 1892, 7 inch.

Andrew Clemens sand bottle with sailing ships dated 1892. A blown oblong footed bottle with polished pontil. Geometric decoration throughout with one side featuring a rosebud nosegay above a yellow band with the caption, McGregor, Iowa, Oct. 1892. The reverse depicts a maritime scene with cattails and lily pads in the foreground and sailing ships in the background.

Andrew Clemens (1857 to 1894) of Dubuque, Iowa, spent most of his life in nearby McGregor. Due to voice encephalitis, he lost both voice and hearing and was sent to the Iowa Institute for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb. There, Clemens began experimenting with sand art, collecting multicolored sands from the Pictured Rocks region of Iowa. He fashioned special tools that he used to arrange the sand in intricate designs and then pack it tightly (he used no glue of any kind). Sizes and designs varied, and orders came to Clemens from around the world, each customer paying about five to seven dollars. As his skill developed, his subjects ranged from boats and ships to flowers, flags, and eagles. Clemens, dubbed "the portrait painter without a brush or paint," died in 1894. He is thought to have produced hundreds of bottles during his lifetime, but few survive today.

According to auctioneer Wes Cowan this bottle's price (the highest he's achieved to date) was helped by the mention of McGregor, Iowa the town where Clemens lived and worked, and the date 1892, two years before Clemen's death....[more information available via subscription]

p4A Item D9754072
Category:  crafts & folk art    Origin:  Iowa
Type:  other crafts    Year:  1892

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