Oil on Canvas, 30” x 25” Sight.
Signed and dated, Elizabeth Coffin 1888.
Elizabeth Rebecca Coffin (1850-1930).
Elizabeth Rebecca Coffin was born of Nantucket Quaker parentage in Brooklyn, New York. She studied at Vassar College, The Hague Academy of Fine Arts, the Art Students League in New York, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, in addition to traveling extensively in Europe and California. She was a pupil of Thomas Eakins.
Beginning in the 1880s, Coffin began to summer regularly on Nantucket, painting brilliant genre scenes and portraits that capture the quaint and fading way of life of post-whaling Nantucket. After moving to Nantucket permanently in 1900, her artistic output declined, and she began to devote her energies to reviving instruction in handicrafts at the Coffin School.
An eighth-generation descendant of original Nantucket settlers Tristram and Dionis Coffin, the artist returned to the island of her ancestors, leaving a legacy of outstanding paintings and devoted public service.
This painted plaster diorama was made by Samuel Davis Otis (1889-1961). The figural portrait is of Otis’ great grandfather, James Gorham (1791-1871), who was a Nantucket whaling captain. The portrait depicts the Captain beside a floral urn on a marbleized tabletop holding a gilt capped walking stick
Samuel Davis Otis was born in Sherwood, NY, the son of Stephen and Mary Otis. Otis was a nationally known artist and illustrator, and one of the founding members of the Silvermine Guild of Artists.His great Grandfather was James Gorham, a Nantucket Whaler. In the summers he and his family resided in Sconset. It was on the island where he became interested in plaster. He made full figured molds as well as pictorial painted shadow boxes.
18″ x 21″ x 4″
5” Open round Nantucket lightship basket with a swing handle, bearing the original paper label. Made by Mitchell Ray.
Clinton Mitchell Ray (1857-1956) was the most prolific basket weaver on Island. The grandson of Capt. Charles B. Ray, he wove early on as a child and was one of the ‘on Island’ weavers that kept the craft from dying out.
3″ Small round Nantucket lightship basket with Oak staves and swing handle. Great condition with a deep honey patina.
Attributed to Clinton Mitchell “Mitchy” Ray (1877-1956). 3.5″ x 3.5″ x 3.5″.
Mitchy learned how to make Nantucket Lightship Baskets as a young boy working with his grandfather Charles B. Ray, a highly regarded mariner and prolific basket weaver. Unlike his grandfather and his father Charles F. Ray, Mitchy never went to sea. He is remembered as an Island character with a reputation of being wild in his younger years. At one point he saved a man from drowning at Surfside earning a medal for his deed. Mitchy took up various jobs and after a short time spent on the Cape as a meat cutter he decided to come home. Mitchy later became a full time basket maker opening a small shop in Starbuck Court. Mitchy used the molds given to him by his father Charles and made utility, or work baskets in various sizes, starting with the tiny “one egger” of which he sold hundreds. Each, for the sum of about $1.50.
In 1920 Mitchy was visited by a young William Sevrens whom he introduced to introduced him to basket weaving. Mitchy is credited with giving the idea to Sevrens of adding a penny to the inside of his basket to identify it, which later became Sevrens trademark. It was not until 1964 that Sevrens opened his own basket shop on Old South Wharf. Early in his basket making career the baskets were well constructed and adorned with a simple paper label. Later in his career he began adding the now familiar tag line “I was made in Nantucket, I’m strong and stout. Don’t lose me or burn me and I’ll never wear out. Made by Mitchy Ray.” As time went on and Mitchy aged, his popular baskets very popular and he was selling them so fast that some say the time and effort that went into his later baskets doesn’t have the detailed quality he produced earlier. However in all of his baskets the durability is ever present and rich in his family and Nantucket history. Mitchy Ray baskets are treasured by those who collect Nantucket lightship baskets.
Walter Francis Brown(1853-1929) visited Nantucket at the end of the century, drawn like many other late-nineteenth-century genre painters by the opportunity to paint scenes that express a sense of the island’s natural beauty and fading past. Brown was born in Providence, Rhode Island, studied painting at Brown University, and later with Gérôme and Bonnat in Paris, and painted extensively in Venice, where he died in 1929. He also worked as an illustrator of such books as Mark Twain’s A Tramp Abroad and Charles Miller’s Roger Williams.
African carved wooden lidded nut bowl in the shape of a chicken.
Traditionally, bowls such as these were used to hold kola nuts as offerings of hospitality, which were given to visitors as a gesture of welcome, and friendship. Often the guest and others present would chew kola while conversing.
Exceptional Nantucket Lightship basket in excellent condition made by Sherwin Porter Boyer (1907-1964). Made with oak staves and carved oak handle that is attached with brass ears.
The basket bears Boyers stamp and jelly label that reads: “I was made on Nantucket Island am strong and stout don’t lose or burn me I’ll never wear out Made by S.P. Boyer.”
Sherwin Boyer was one of the first generation of Nantucket basket makers in the “purse” period, starting in the late 1940s and working up until his death in 1964. A contemporary to Jose Reyes, Boyer is regarded as one of the best basket makers of the period.
9″ Diameter Sewing basket with carved Oak heart shape handles and staves. The jelly label from when the basket was made is still intact with it’s original price: “Made by Ferdinand Sylvaro 97 Orange St Nantucket, Mass $2.50.”
Ferdinand Sylvaro (1868-1952).
A house painter by trade, Ferdinand Sylvaro was a Nantucket native of Portuguese decent and married a woman named Althea Macy (not to be confused with scrimshander Aletha Macy) Ferdinand Sylvaro worked from his shop that was attached to his home, on 97 Orange Street. Ferdinand Sylvaro owned molds that belonged to Davis Hall, a famous basket maker of the late 1800s who was a lightship keeper of the New South Shoal.