Rural America used wood because it was inexpensive and readily available. As land was cleared for settlement and farming, the wood from trees became fuel for heat or lumber for building or material for manufacturing a host of products ranging from barrels to furniture.
Grain and tone explain the appeal of natural wood. Each piece exhibits individual characteristics. This aspect was understood and admired in an agrarian society. Natural wood has an earthy tone, strong yet subdued.
Over the years wood patinates and oxidates. These two forces create a feel to wood that is impossible to duplicate. Only time can accomplish the effect.
Many wooden forms were grained, painted, or stenciled. Because this was done by hand, they also exhibit strong individual characteristics. In the 1950s it was common practice to strip painted pieces and refinish them to expose the natural wood grains. The folk art revival of the late 1960s through the early 1980s focused interest on painted pieces, showing that the painting is an integral part of the piece.
Painted pieces now have strong appeal among Country collectors as well. Tastes range from ornately decorated blanket chests to the warm milk paint tones often found on pie safes. Painted wooden pieces have found a permanentplace in Country homes.
– Harry L. Rinker
“Official Price Guide to Collectibles”