I Don't Understand, Je Ne Comprends Pas, No Entiendo

It is spring now, and I thought the quarrel with that wanna-be, silhouette expert from Texas, was over and done with. But I guess not, as she keeps at it on her little blog. She keeps picking sandgrain tidbits of nothing and tries to make something out of it. Why is she making a fool of herself?  I don't understand.

As for myself, I need no introduction, as my nine years of blogging speaks for itself. I write about antique silhouettes for fun and pass on new information about them to help collectors and dealers; it is one of my hobbies. She sells silhouettes for a living, I don't. So my writings are unbiased.

That DEALER from Texas:

First, she writes very little on the subject (her silhouette artists bio is a laugh...she took them straight out of reference books without giving them any credits). Second, she is unable to tell fakes and reproductions from genuine 19th century silhouettes. Third, most of what she knows were learned by reading my blogs. Fourth, she still bases her little opinions on an outdated 1928 book by Alice van Leer Carrick. (By the way, Carrick's book is excellent, but my nine years of writing takes it way beyond her investigation. Carrick started it, and I am continuing it.)

So, what is this Texas dealer? She is a pothole, a menace for all to avoid. If some of you fall into it, this pothole gets bigger and bigger. Save costly alignment and go around that nuisance. What a wanna-be is what a wanna-be does. Spring is finally here. Get over it and move on!

Check out my other antique silhouettes site:


Sunday, March 16, 2014

20th Century Chapman Silhouette
This Chapman is NOT the early 19th century Moses Chapman's work. It is 20th century. I have never seen an embossed (signed) 19th century Chapman in my life. Has anyone seen one? I have never even heard of one. In addition, 19th century cutters NEVER cut profiles this way.
She and I exchanged our views on my blogs about this subject. Check the blog post dated August, 24, 2010 and others for related content. There she writes:
"And, having had a silhouette with the “Chapman Siccauit” stamp and also being quite knowledgeable and experience with early silhouettes, I am quite certain that the stamp was used by a 19th century silhouettist. You have not convinced me to discount the “Chapman Sicciaut” stamp in all cases."
Her statement above is pure xxxx: "quite knowledgeable and experience with early silhouettes"? If any of the readers truly believe this silhouette is from the early 1800s feel free to join her club. At one time, I, too, believed it was from the 19th century. As soon as I found out it was NOT a 19thc work, I revised me views, wrote about it, and even sold it as a 20th century silhouette. I lost quite a bit on that deal. That's what I got from being stupid and having wishful thoughts.

FAKE Henry Williams Silhouette

I've covered plenty about this sort of 20th century silhouettes. These silhouettes are NOT 19th century. For a lot more about these fake WILLIAMS embossing, read my past posts. Originally from Hindman auction, Oct., 4, 2009, $400. It now  belongs to a 'wanna-be" silhouette expert from Texas. I hope she did not sell it as a genuine 19th century silhouette!! She professes to know a lot about the subject, but she does not, and I feel sorry for her.

Three Styles of William Bache Silhouettes

 He worked in three disctinct styles: plain hollow-cut, hollow-cut with embellishment on black backing paper, fully painted. There are many fakes of all three styles out there. His authentic embossing stamp is very well made (see photo). It measures 21mm from one point to another. Fake stamps are quite crude and sizes differ widely. So if you don't know what to look for with his silhouettes, at least know what an authentic stamp measures and looks like. Bache had a tendency to stamp very close to bustline. So if you see a stamp that is distant from the bustline, you should examine further.

Let me give you another advice on hollow-cut with embellishment on black backing paper style. If you are not sure of the embossment, open the back of the frame. Every fake I examined used a common black construction paper. It is black on both sides. This is not to say that one-sided black paper fake does not exist. It's just I have never seen one. Bache only used his handmade paper, which was black on one side only. I illustrate here two photos of fakes. They look alike, but they are different. Do you know who owns them as genuine examples? They belong to HER. I kid you not, unless she already sold them.
I hope the readers were able to learn something new today. This is what we do!



Perhaps, having done this for the last 5 years is paying off; I get about 1200-1500 hits a month nowadays! For such a specialized site, that is super-duper if you know what I mean, and this site is ad free! There is no wheeling-dealing going on here, unlike some other sites.

A few readers may question my views and conclusions on some subjects. First, I do not make up stuff. Second, I do not live in fantasy world. Anyone is free to make an argument on what I write, and I welcome every argument. I do play the devil’s advocate at times, however.

Sometimes, I question authenticity of silhouettes. I feel such challenges are good. I realize some dealers and collectors prefer to feel comfy with what they own, and they either hesitate or would not open a Pandora’s box for any reason. However, such boxes are quite fun to open. We may be rewarded with treasures, or goblins. The thing is we would never know if we keep the box locked.

Investigation of scarcely known silhouettes is like buying a watermelon. When it is priced per pound, we tend to pick the lightest watermelon out of the bunch. On the other hand, if they are all priced the same, say $5 each, we pick the largest. We can agree on this point more or less, can’t we? You may be wondering…what is this guy talking about? I am talking about how we usually pick watermelons based on price and price/weight. What does this have to do anything with “investigation of scarcely known silhouettes”? You have to read between the lines. Think about what I just wrote in bed tonight. You will know!



I wrote hundreds of posts on my 3 silhouette blogs (plus born-without-arms blog) over the years. Being not too bright, I did not notice my older post was being deleted each time I posted a new one. I believe I was able to recover all of my lost posts by archiving. So, check out my silhouette blogs I, II, and III. Click monthly archives either on left panel or all the way to the bottom for posts that do not appear on the pages. There is a lot of good information available within these posts.


Classic Reproduction Peale Silhouettes

This pair appeared on eBay a while back. They both have that Peale stamp with eagle. If I remember correctly, one went for about $50 and another for $75 or so. This pair has that classic bustline that is only available on these reproductions.

Another Rare Todd
This silhouette appeared on eBay a few months ago. It is a rare piece with clear Todd's Patent embossing. It went begging for $36. There are some obvious condition problems with it, but the tears and holes can be "backed" with period paper to strenghten. It was a bargain silhouette that I missed out. Shucks!



The seller's description is as follows: "The SUPERB attention to hair detail and the way the curve of the busts was cut leads me to attribute these as the work of WILLIAM BACHE ! !"

Note: I cannot even see a "B" of Bache anywhere on these silhouettes. The top pair and the bottom pair differ so much in style that I do not think they were cut by the same hand.


More on Bruff

Carl from Charleston writes:

"I am attaching several photos of the J. Bruff silhouette. Unfortunately, I could not get a good photo of the embossed insignia, but it is exactly like the one published on the website (J Bruff at top, Baltimore at bottom and star in center). This one also has a penciled name at the bottom, my guess, identifying the sitter in the portrait. Since the backing was not attached, I had it secured w/ framer points. As best as I can tell, it is the original frame (w/ the original glass and loop hardware at the top). As I stated before, I found it at a rummage sale and initially, was buying it just for the frame (I thought the silhoutte was probably a print). When I got home and examined it, I realized that it was authentic. It was truly a great find!"

"I have enjoyed the website and learning more about early American silhouettes."

NOTE: The bust tip is unmistakenly that of Bruff, with or without his stamp. With this inclusion, there are now three known Bruffs in private collections. It was a "great find" for Carl. The frame is very nice too. The construction of the base is as simple as it comes but with an added veneered facing, either painted or natural grained.


Born Without Arms
The following comment was posted on my other site devoted to Nellis, Honeywell, and Rogers. It reads, "jhanes has left a new comment on your post "Silkwork by Martha Honeywell": Hi there. Just discovered your website---have you been here long? Anyway, I am now the owner of the silkwork that you show on your website that was done by M Honeywell. I wrote about it in my newsletter, and here is a link to it: (LINK REMOVED by editor)Also, one of the silhouttes that was sold on ebay by Honeywell (the one that sold for $200) was mine as well. I think it is pictured in the article in the newsletter. It is interesting, because the "witness" of Honeywell's execution of this work was George Keim, who was an industrial supplier from Reading, PA, and moved to Philadelphia the same year that the needlework was done on the corner of Race & Arch St. In Philadelphia, he worked with Dupont, and no doubt became a very wealthy man!"

William Doyle

The following comes from Peggy, one of our readers.

"The painted silhouette is 18th century, on laid paper, and includes a very unusual tromphe l’oeil decorated mat painted on the paper (complete with shading that makes the mat look 3 dimensional). The silhouette bares the same notched bust line that we see on Bob’s painted lady and the hollow cut man cut by William M.S. Doyle. The painted silhouette has notched buttons which are similar to those cut by Mrs. Sarah Harrington (active in England about 1774-1787).

Through his advertisements we know that Doyle sold painted silhouettes, hollow cut silhouettes and full color portrait miniatures at least as early as 1806. In 1806 he would have been 37 years old. It is unlikely that an artist with the outstanding talent of Doyle would have waited until he was 37 years old to start working as an artist. I expect that Doyle worked as a professional silhouettist and portrait artist from around 1785.

We know that he studied the English silhouettists because he advertised that he painted miniatures “on plaster in the manner of the celebrated Miers of London.” I think it likely that the 18th century painted man and Bob’s painted lady were both done by Doyle in the manner of the English silhouettists that he studied and with the outstanding quality of his full color portrait miniatures."

More 19th Century ??? Silhouettes

The seller describes this pair as: "Made in the mid-19th century these original Silhouettes are of a husband & wide. Each 1 ½” by 3 ¼” silhouette is cut and applied from paper and accented with paint. The original frames measure 4 ¾” by 5 ½” and like the silhouettes are in perfect condition. I was able to purchase these early Folk Art Silhouettes for a great price and I have kept my reserve at far below their value. "

I am sure the seller got these "for a great price." The frames are sparkling new. There is no age at all. The silhouettes were both done in the manner of Chamberlain. In the last year or so, many of this type have been apearing on the market. There seems to be no end to it.
PS 7/5 Bid to $134 not meeting the reserve. Same scenario: blessing for the bidder or curse for the seller.


Pair of Silhouettes by F.P. Jones

This pair appeared on eBay recently. The seller was kind enough to send me a close-up photo of the stamp. I do not know how many sets of dies Jones owned. As his working dates were brief, I cannot imagine him having made more than a single pair.

Some books mention his name as T.P. Jones, while others say F.P. Jones. The silhouette I own is clearly T.P. Jones; in fact, all the others I have seen that I know to be authentic are T.P. Jones. The silhouettes on eBay are very black and just did not seem to be the works of T.P. The border of this stamp differs excessively from the stamp used by T.P. These two silhouettes cannot possibly be from the 19th century; this pair is from the 20th century.



20th Century Reproduction Silhouettes?

This pair of silhouettes are from Cowan''s auction and described therein as: "Pair of Silhouettes in Early Frames, faithfully executed 20th-century reproduction silhouettes, pencil signed Georgiana Cook; contained in early 19th-century frames with alligatored finish; each 2.75" x 3.75" (sight); 5.25" x 6.25" (w/frame)."

They are difficult to judge as there is only this photograph. I am sure closer examination of the paper out of the frames would determine their real nature. If they are indeed from the 2oth century, they are the nicest and the neatest pair that I have ever seen. That is very scary. I would not hesitate to add them to my collection no matter what they are.


Another Peale Silhouette

This item is from an auction purported to be a rare one with a “PEALE” stamp. If the readers would browse below, I have listed two others very similar to this stamp. Please remember that my thoughts are just my opinion.

Even without a stamp, Peale silhouettes look Peale. The embossment is an additional proof. However, even with the stamp, the cuttings must represent the known bust curvatures by one of the so-called Peales, although very few were actually cut by the Peales.

1. The best one is when the curvatures represent Peale with a genuine embossment.
2. The second best is when the curvatures represent Peale but without the stamp.
3. Others are no good.

As for those busts that scarcely resemble any of the Peales’cuttings, and when the embossment is not quite correct, there is a very good reason to doubt their authenticity.

Added 6/25. It went as high as $137 but did not meet the seller's reserve. Blessing for the top bidder? Curse for the seller?


"Ultra Rare Silhouette"

This is from an auction. Just because someone writes something on the back of the frame, it is automatically assigned a pedigree or provenance. We really do not know who this profile belongs to. The paper tag says, "Daughter of John Harris the Elder or John Harris the Younger." That is a common name, and the tag is modern. The profile may just as well belong to Jane Doe. It even comes in an "ond" frame, and this "Ultra Rare Silhouette is in ready to hang condition."

I would not be caught displaying that framed item on my wall. If I owned it, I will hang it alright...with a noose! Although it may not be your or my preference, it is being bid up quite high. I think I have a bad habit of picking on stuff. When I saw this, I thought it would be fun for the readers. The following is a description by the seller.

"A Rare And Important Hollow Cut American Silhouette. The Subject is "Jane Harris" ,and was the daughter of "John Harris" of the Founding Family of Harrisburg ,Pennsylvania. Thier home still stands in Harrisburg today ,along the Susquehanna River. The Hand Cut Silhouette is Hollow Cut ,and in great ,original overall condition. The frame is ond and may be original to the piece ,but appears to have been reused and rematted at least once. The visible Gold leaf is original to the frame ,as is the wavy ,bubble glass. The silhouette has some mild staining ,and dates to the 1810 -1830 time frame. It states on the reverse ,"Daughter Of John Harris ,The Elder ,Or John Harris The Younger". This exceptional ,Ultra Rare Silhouette is in ready to hang condition ,and needs nothing !!!"


Shucks! Got Beaten on this Deal

I wanted this catalog just for the sake of having it. Some things in life are like that. Since I cannot own it now, I want it more and more. The following is a description by the seller:

Catalogue of a Highly Interesting Collection of Aboriginal and other Relics Illustrating American History from the celebrated Peale's Museum of Philadelphia, the Property of Montroville Dickeson, catalogue by E. Mason, October 13-14, 1869, 26 pages, 735 lots, pink wrappers.


More on Chapman Embossing

These two images comes from Peggy. It is clear that it does not say "Chapman Studios" as claimed earlier below by Jane.

(Aug. 2010) For new info on this stamp, check out silhouettes page III. CHAPMAN is now 20th century cutting!


Who is the Artist?

This interesting silhouette, ca. 1810, is on eBay now. It has a lousy modern frame; however, the cutting is good with added hair details. As there are too many bidders on it already, I decided to just let it ride. The bust termination is of interest. It has a notch. There is definitely a stamp under the bust by the maker. I have manipulated its size and color to get a closer look. Unfortunately, it remains to be attributed. Although the work resembles Bache somewhat, this stamp is a single line type. The stamp does resemble that from the Peale Museum, not the one with a spread eagle but that of the "Museum." Of course, it may be something else. The bust notch seems to be too large to be from the Museum. Since the oval opening hides the bust tip, I cannot tell whether the silhouette has been cut there and incomplete. If a reader wins this silhouette, please drop me a line. I am curios. What does the stamp say? Is the stamp a secondary impression where it only has the shadow of the embossment?


Rare Stamped Silhouettes on the Market

Recent auction by Conestoga Auction was of interest. Their offering was only a small group of silhouettes; however, it contained some important examples that are very difficult to find. In my opinion, most of them went begging. The following hammer prices do not include the buyers’ commission. If one had placed bids through eBay, the commission was an additional 17% plus shipping.

I placed bids on Williams, Day, and Jennys. A persistent floor bidder (non-eBay bidder) outbid me on Willy and Day. My bids for those two lots were $325, which is equal to about $400 after other expenses. I already own a Day, but the example there was a better example than what I have. I wanted it for upgrade. Prior to seeing that Day, I knew of only two examples: SamplerJane and mine. Now, it makes it three.

I had wanted the Williams. But then, I did not feel like entering a price war. Perhaps I should have placed a higher bid? If I placed a bid of $600, would I have won it? I felt that since I have seen other Williams from time to time, I figured there is always another chance to secure him. (Good thing I did not win it, as ALL Williams are now known to be 20th century creation)

For some reason or another, the floor bidder did not pursue my Jennys to an unusual extent. Perhaps the bidder did not recognize its rarity. To my knowledge, this piece is unique. Unless of course, SamplerJane comes back telling us that she owns an example. This Jennys is a decent looking young lady, and I am happy to have been able to add to my collection.

It is hard to imagine that Jones only brought $140. That is the price of a common Peale! Someone walked off with a bargain. A super looking Bache was taken at $300. A rare Peale brought about the right price of $425 or about $500 with expense added. Although the stamp itself is rare, I never really cared about the bustline that is always seen with this stamp. To me, it is not aesthetically appealing.

I do not know what the story is with one of the unattributed silhouettes. It brought $425! Can Someone tell me why it went so high?


Peale Museum?

Recently, a viewer sent me a link to view a list of silhouettes being auctioned-off. I found three silhouettes that interested me. The first was described as, “A lovely Charles Wilson Peale hollow-cut silhouette of a woman. Black ink hair and back of dress. Embossed PEALE underneat the image.” The second was, “A wonderful Charles Wilson Peale hollow-cut silhouette of a gentleman. Black ink hair and ruffled shirt. Embossed stamp PEALE beneath the image.” The third was, Another lovely Charles Wilson Peale silhouette. Portrait of a gentleman. Hollow-cut with black ink for the hair. Embossed stamp PEALE underneath the bust. On the back there is a piece of paper taped to the frame that says "Peale Museum" - 19th century.”

C.W.Peale spelled his middle name funky, Willson. The auction site spells it “Wilson.” No point will be taken off for that, however. Since the auction page is copyrighted, I will mention that the images came from “iGavel.”

If you were to look at the left photograph embossing (genuine Peale), you will see that it is within an oval punch, and the letters are well-formed. On the other hand, the purported Peales are individual punches (for more on Peale stamps, see my article somewhere on this or another silhouettes page). Although the pictures are not very clear, I am sure you can see the differences in how the letters “LE” of PEALE are formed. On the left photo (genuine Peale), the right legs of those two letters go up straight, while those of the letters on the top right picture go out at a 45 degree angle. The leg of “L” almost touches or even touches the letter “E.” Also, note the last “E” of the bottom right photo. The right leg of it is very long and curves inward. All the letters of the two right photos are crudely formed.

The busts of the purported Peales, the two men, are not Peale-like. This is not to say that these types of busts were never cut there. It is just I do not remember ever seeing such lines. The lady has Peale-like attributes with its small notch at the bustline and the neck being off-centered in terms of the bust. However, the face is not Peale-like. This is a subjective part. Sometimes, the face tells a lot. From the photos, they all appear to be silhouettes from the early 1800s. I like the lady a lot. If not for the “addition,” that would have been a keeper.

I will let the good readers decide on the fate of these silhouettes. If a reader believe them to be from the Peale Museum, I would like to hear.

6/22/13.....I cannot believe how I was so~~~~~ careful in 2007. All three silhouettes are no-quesion 20th century cuttings, even the lady I liked.


Peale's Museum Eagle Embossed Silhouette

This is not a rare item by anyone's standards. However, I thought it might be of interest to place it here because of its similarity to the unattributed double-silhouette cutting that I listed a few months ago (see the listing below of a couple - double cutting). This Peale's man here and that double cutting have much in common. By looking at these two silhouettes, one could say that the unattributed one, too, was likely cut at the Museum. The problem is that I have never seen a double-silhouette embossed with any of the Peale marks, nor have I ever seen a double profile from the Museum. So, it is still a mystery to me.

I illustrate the close-ups of this man as it has two prominent marks left by the stylus. Again, these marks are only found on the first layer. The second layer below would not receive these marks. Something to ponder upon.


Young and Old

Since the readers are coming up with lots of rare items, I list one of my favorites too. This silhouette is fully painted; it is housed in a naive wooden frame. Looks like the silhouette was painted when she was in her teens. As she aged, in the tintype, she became "witchy." Note her forehead. It did not change at all. The card is pasted on to a spiritual visiting card. I sealed the back so cannot access what was printed on it exactly. The name is Adeline Partridge, b. 23 Aug. 1808, Paris, Maine. She had a twin sister named Caroline. The clover leaf pasted on is "clover from mother's grave." Her mother was Abigail Chase m. 31 Dec. 1794 to Elias Partridge.

I wish you could see the glossy untouched patina of this frame. Looks cherry with original bubbly glass.


On Chapman Embossing

Peggy McClard left a comment for this post. Since most readers do not explore comments, as it takes an extra click of the button, I thought I would post it here as well.

She writes, " The signature stamp does not say "Chapman Studios" it says "Chapman Siccauit". "Siccauit" is definitely Latin, but I can't find a translation. (Does anyone know the translation?) I have one with the same stamp, but it has a hollow cut head and shoulders, but the collar and shirt front are uncut with details added in watercolor."

I investigated the word "Siccauit" for quite a spell. The only reference I could find was in a relation to "eyes." It seems to be an adjective. The only Latin I know something about is with the inscriptions on old medals. I thought I knew a bit more than that. But after watching reruns of "Excorsist" I relaized that Morgan was not speaking Latin. She spoke English backwards. That is the extent of my Latin. Forgot... "caveat emptor" is Latin too. I know what that means.

As both Jane and Peggy own the silhouettes with the embossing in question, and me without the actual item in possession, I am, here, feeble at best. This is an interesting discussion, and I hope we are able to learn more about this "stamp."

(Aug. 2010) Check out my latest post on page III for new info on this embossment! They are all 20th century.


Moses Chapman


Here are some rare treats from Jane once again. This is the first time I have ever seen a stamped Chapman. Have you?
(AUG. 2010) Check out page III for new info on this stamp.

Jane writes, "I found both silhouettes at an antique dealers' home and at an antique show in this area. The embossed Chapman was at a dealer's home and in his personal collection. I was a novice at the time in horse trading, but ended up trading a small wooden stool, plus cash for the silhouette! It is in its original frame, untouched. The embossing says, "Chapman Studios" (The "S" in studios at the end is backwards! The type on the stamp must have been backwards! But it does say "Chapman Studios"...) This is the only example I have seen with this embossing. The white shade says:"Mr. Poole of of Topsfield" on one side, and on the front, "Probably by Chapman". This is valuable in that the shade is an exact copy of what Chapman advertizes on his broadside. The broadside was found at a show in New England; it is quite rare and is a wonderful read! These interant artists would travel from place to place and leave these broadsides on the counter by the check-in at a hotel, or with a keeper of a tavern. They would stay for a few days, and off they would go! Their horse would be waiting to travel to the next town! They would invite customers to their room in the hotel, and guarantee satisfaction! Chapman mentions his machine in the broadside. Quite a brazen fellow!! Quite sure of himself, don't you think? Moses was a very good salesman also, no doubt!"