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Sign for Field's Inn and Abbe Inn
1814-1820
Paint on pine board and moldings, gold leaf (side 2 only), iron hardware
Primary Dimensions (height x width including hardware): 34 1/2 x 50in. (87.6 x 127cm) Other (height x width of sign only): 31 1/2 x 50in. (80 x 127cm)
Credit Line: Collection of Morgan B. Brainard, Gift of Mrs. Morgan B. Brainard
Gallery Copy: First made for innkeeper Peter R. Field and decorated with an eagle, this sign was apparently kept in storage for nearly a century before being repainted to mark William A. Abbe’s Inn and Tea Room. The Colonial Revival of the late 19th and early 20th century was distinguished by a renewed interest in “antiques,” and Abbe displayed not only this sign, but also his father’s larger lion and eagle sign, painted by William Rice.
Description: Images: on side 1: eagle with outswept wings, centered on board; on side 2: text on black background, over eagle with outswept wings Text: on side 1: in band at bottom, "P R FIELD"; on side 2: "ABBE INN AND TEA ROOM," dispersed across board, over "P R FIELD" Construction: Single board, grain oriented horizontally; encased in moldings (quarter round and hollow, each bordered by fillets) applied to both faces, mitered in the corners. No structural frame. The board is unusually large (32" wide) and the thickest (1-1/4") in the entire collection.
Technique Note: The surfaces of the eagle and Field text are raised slightly above the background. Very little paint remains on the newly revealed eagle, which retains traces of browns, white, black, and ochre (on talons and beak, matching the earlier frame moldings); background was white or light gray. The italic letters for Field's name were scribed into the surface prior to being painted in white, against the dark text band. The Abbe Inn text shows evidence of gold leaf and the use of stencils, but very little trace of weathering. Some small passages in the Abbe Inn text were water-gilt instead of the usual oil-gilt. Historical Note: Original location. The Field homestead remains standing on its original site: the northwest corner of the intersection of the main north-south road between Hartford and Springfield (now Enfield Street, or Rt. 5), and the east-west road leading to the newly erected toll-bridge across the Connecticut River at Enfield (now Bridge Lane). The land was acquired by Simeon Field, Sr., in 1761, and the house built presumably shortly thereafter. In 1807 Simeon Field, Jr., sold a strip of land on the south edge of the property, for the road to the bridge then being built. A kitchen ell was added in 1811, two years prior to Peter Field's first known tavern license. The property was described in an 1826 newspaper ad as "the valuable Tavern Stand in the center of the town of Enfield, formerly occupied by Peter R. Field, and now in the occupation of Stephen O. Russell." Although the river bridge erected in 1807 had collapsed by the 1850s, the railroad station was erected at the river terminus of Bridge Road, providing a new source of customers.
Object Number: 1961.63.1
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