Tooled Arts & Crafts “Leather” Medallion

Item ID: WH-1106-561C
Style: Leather/embossed
Date: 1900s
Color: Orange
Type: Framed, Ornament
Mnfr: M.H. Birge & Sons, Buffalo, New York
Dimensions: 32" w x 26.5" h x 1.63" d (paper: 22" w x 16" h)

“Ornaments” or decorative medallions isolated on an otherwise plain paper, were one of Birge’s trademark offerings in the first decade or so of the new century. Printed by hand at intervals as long as nine or ten feet apart on “leather hide” papers, they were meant to be used as decorative elements either towards the upper part of a wall or in the spaces created below a plate rail in a high wainscot around the room, with battens or narrow boards separating each vertical panel. They were also used in folding screens.

This example first appeared in the 1905 Birge Book and is one of their more English Arts & Crafts-inspired designs, with a stylized rose amid conventionalized vines, leaves and an interwoven banner, all rendered with the sharp and distinctive leather tooling details that distinguished Birge’s best work. Hand block printed, embossed, and stained.

This medallion fragment showed such character and presence in its rough end-of-the-roll condition, that we found it just as compelling – if not more so – than it's more perfectly preserved counterparts.

Custom framed with non-glare museum glass.
Birge Pattern No. 8264.

 


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