The American Folk Art series ran from 1977 to 1995. Folk Art is loosely defined as the art of the everyday, rooted in traditions that come from community and culture and expressing cultural identity by conveying shared community values and aesthetics.
This set of four stamps commemorates the pottery skills of the Pueblo Indians of Arizona and New Mexico. This particular art form is still practiced, but the pieces shown in these stamp designs were produced sometime between 1880 and 1920.
This original block of four was based on a “basket” design from an American quilt made in New York City in 1875. Although the industrial revolution made it possible to mass produce inexpensive blankets, the quilt was considered to be attractive, practical, and very economical.
This block of four Folk Art stamps features various pieces of Pennsylvania Toleware. French for “painted tin,” Toleware is still made by the Pennsylvania Dutch, exactly as it was nearly 300 years ago.
This se-tenant block of four was issued as part of the American Folk Art Series. Each stamp features a different carved mask, representing the craftsmanship of the tribes of the Pacific Northwest coastal region.
The Broadbill duck decoy stamps showcase actual decoys carved by artisans at the turn of the century.
These designs are based on actual Navajo blankets – three of which are housed in the Museum of the American Indian in New York City. The stamps were issued to coincide with the annual Navajo Nation Fair held at Window Rock, Arizona. Blanket weaving has been an important part of Navajo culture for centuries. To early tribes, each blanket was believed to possess spiritual characteristics and reflect the owner’s identity.
From the Colonial era through the 19th century, woodcarved figurines were even more widely used than today’s billboards. Few merchants felt competitive without a three-dimensional representative of their products or services. One stamp features the Highlander, a figure used to sell tobacco in England.
This block of four features a collection of designs created by lacemakers in Michigan. Each design illustrates a different lace pattern, including the “Buckspoint” style in the upper left, a “mixed technique” in the lower left, the “mixed technique applique” in the upper right, and the “Honiton” style in the lower left.
According to legend, former President of the United States Dwight Eisenhower sanded carousel horses as a boy at the C.W. Parker factory in his hometown of Abilene, Kansas.
The Indian Headdress stamps were the first in the Folk Art Series to be issued as booklets. The headdresses were prized personal possessions, generally created by the warrior himself, and were usually buried with their owner at death. The headdresses were made from such materials as eagle and turkey feathers, beads, fur, hair tassels, and animal skins.
Carousels have a long and fascinating history that can be traced as far back as early Byzantine times. Rather than being used for amusement however, early carousels were actually used for training purposes. In fact, the word itself comes from 12th-century Arabian games of horsemanship called carosellos or “little wars.” Fragile, heavily scented clay balls were tossed from one rider to another; dexterity and equestrian skill was needed to avoid the unmanly mark of the loser – a bath of sweet smelling perfume.
By the late 17th century, carousels had been developed to train young noblemen for spearing contests. Seated on wooden horses the riders tried to lance rings as they rode around a pole. Forerunner of the modern day carousel and its game of “catching the brass ring,” the ride evolved into a popular form of entertainment.
Discover events in American history – plus the stamps that make them come alive.
Subscribe to get This Day in History stories straight to your inbox every day!