Friday, July 1, 2011

Are You Ready for the 4th Of July?

Are you ready for the 4th of July?

Memorial Day, Flag Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day are all summer holidays. Each provides a perfect opportunity to spotlight the US flag, Uncle Sam, and Lady Liberty.

One of my favorite collections that I bring out for these holidays is my group of patriotic figures and American flags. As an elementary teacher, each year I taught a patriotic unit that focused on American symbols. At some point through the years, I found myself picking up various models of Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty or ephemera that featured the image of these two figures of Americana. Sharing these pieces of "folk art" with my students often provided visual inspiration for student art, and a tangible connection with these iconic symbols of America.

Now that I'm retired, these figures provide patriotic decor here at HFTS for the summer holidays: Memorial Day, Flag Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.

This flying Uncle Sam charm ornament includes the famous "I Want You" poster among the various charms hanging from his arms.

Red and white striped pants, a blue coat, and a top hat are typical dress for most of the Uncle Sam figures.

and often times Uncle Sam is proudly waving

"Old Glory" in one of his hands.

Lady Liberty is always featured with a crown of gold.

Some of my figures are paper maché or resin . . .

but many are hand-carved like this

dapper gentleman with his walking stick.

This Uncle Sam is only five inches tall and badly faded, but someone took great care to carve this gentlemen. It is signed and dated 1940.

Some Uncle Sam figures are made to resemble a nutcracker.

This trio is done in needlepoint, hand-stitched by me.

I stitched this needlepoint tassel

designed by Sandy Jenkins in the 1990s.

A vintage oak hall bench is a popular spot for holiday pillows.

Saundra Slagle was the creator of this jaunty Uncle Sam soft sculpture. I stitched the Lady Liberty in 1997. It too is a Sandy Jenkins design.

The tall, thin US figure in the center of this group is an original made by Dawn Tubbs in 2008. He is holding an elephant in one had and a donkey in the other hand.

This group includes Nancy Thomas' Uncle Sam stilt figure (1999), a paper maché figure by Carole Watts (2002), and the rolly polly wooden figure by James Haddon (1990).

Standing at a height of 12 inches, this glittery Uncle Sam was made in 2002 as part of the 10th Anniversary Nutcracker Village Collection.

Can't say that this Uncle Sam fishing lure is particularly handsome, though it is in the original box which provides documentation that this piece was sold as a souvenir during the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration of the USA.

This flying Uncle Sam made of resin is unmarked.

My favorite is this Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam whirligig. When the wind blows the paddles, the figures bend to kiss.

Those of you interested in starting your own collection of these ubiquitous American symbols might want to get a copy of THE FOREMOST GUIDE TO UNCLE SAM COLLECTABLES, by Gerald Czulewicz, Sr. Available here at Amazon.

Vintage 4th of July themed post cards are an interesting aspect of Americana. Raphael Tuck and Tabor Prang were two of the prominent artists whose work was produced on post cards as full-color lithographs. Vintage postcards often include a handwritten message and canceled postage.

Of the cards in my collection, three of them are postmarked: one dated 1907 and the other two dated 1912. You can see that one was postmarked from the "S. S. Colon" on Independence Day, 1912.

If you visited my post on National Flag Day~June 14th, you know I attended the OpSail 2000 in NYC. I purchased these post cards depicting US stamps used through the years that feature Lady Liberty.

I had them specially postmarked that day.

These patriotic ice-fishing decoys were a find at the NY Pier Antique Show in 2000. They are unsigned, but definitely vintage.

I doubt that the patriotic motif is typical of most of these vintage ice-fishing decoys, but it was the stars and strips that caught my attention. The vintage tin which features Betsy Ross and the Pledge of Alligance once held some type of food item.

It's traditional in many areas across the United States for outdoor patriotic concerts to be held under the stars the evening of July 4th. Many end with spectacular fireworks displays, and all are the perfect venue for a summer picnic. My vintage picnic basket is from the 60s, a gift from my father the year I went off to the university. Unfortunately there will be no outdoor concert or fireworks in our city this year. Fireworks have been banned and the concert canceled.

No patriotic parade, concert, ceremony, or party would be complete without the ubiquitous paper flag to help one cool off in the summer heat.

Many families in neighborhoods across our town will gather Monday Morning on the 4th of July for their own local neighborhood parades. Vintage cars like this 1952 MGTD beauty will be a popular sight. I'll be at our neighborhood parade, and once it cools down in the evening, we will picnic with a few of our neighbors.

I "heart" Americana.
I'm proud to be an American!

What will you do to celebrate this year?

Wishing each of you a Happy 4th of July!