Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Farmers' Arms

Farmers' Arms
Originally uploaded by notionnanny.
Last night in an insomnia-induced treasure hunt on eBay, I found this lovely mug depicting the implements of farming as a coat of arms. This morning when I awoke, I finished reading Geoffrey S. Fletcher's slim 1962 volume "Popular Art in England," in which he happens to mention such mugs, belonging to "the golden age of English farming -- a period that began with the introduction of the swede turnip and ended about 1850."

Fletcher meanders through his subject, organized as a journey: popular art in towns, popular art at home, popular art in the country, popular art at the seaside...covering everything from sailors' love tokens, tobacconists' jars, wool-work pictures, and cast-iron door-stops, to matchbox labels, gypsy caravans, tombstones, and tattooing. He is an opinionated chap, unafraid to say if he finds a thing dreadful or delightful, though most often he encourages the reader to collect it "before it is too late." (It's a good thing I bought the mug.)


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