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Sign of the Pine Tree
1768
Original Owner:Originally owned by Joseph Read III , American, born 1709
Maker:Maker Unknown
Paint on pine board, iron hardware
Primary Dimensions (height x width including hardware): 49 3/8 x 23in. (125.4 x 58.4cm) Other (height x width of sign only): 42 x 23in. (106.7 x 58.4cm)
Credit Line: Collection of Morgan B. Brainard. Gift of Mrs. Morgan B. Brainard
Gallery Copy: The pictures on this sign might have been meant as a coded message with political connotations. Reading the sign as a rebus, or pictorial representation of a word or phrase, the yellow circle (sun) plus the pine tree (a common symbol of liberty at the time) may have been a reference to the revolutionary organization, the Sons of Liberty.
Description: Images: on both sides: a round disc, centered in pediment, over stylized pine tree, centered on board; no underlying layers. Construction: Single board, fielded on both sides, set vertically into grooves of the joined frame. Horizontal rails have integral pediment and skirt (e.g., vertical extensions, which are hand-sawn to create decorative profiles). The frame construction is conceptually flawed. The vertical stiles are tenoned through the top and bottom rails, thus reversing the nearly universal practice of horizontal rails tenoned into stiles (see fig. 16). Consequently, the entire weight of panel, stiles, and bottom rail rests on the wooden pins that secure the vertical tenons into the rails. Straps from the hanging hardware reinforced the top joint, but the lower joints required reinforcement at a later date. Surface: This sign displays only one layer of paint on each side. Its original color scheme featured yellow suns, bright green trees, yellow suns, and white lettering set off by a barn-red background. Laboratory examination revealed that the pigment used for the trees was a copper-based verdigris, which has oxidized to black or brown, leaving traces of green only in tiny surface fissures. The absence of any repainting suggests that this sign was probably in use for only a short period.
Historical Note: Original location. Read's tavern may have been located at what was still known as the "Read homestead" as late as 1868, on the road east of Newent center. Period references suggest that Read's tavern was less important than the one operated by Benjamin Burnham, located on more heavily traveled Norwich road.
Inscription: On side 1, below image, "Entertainment: For/ Man & Hors"; on apron, "1768". Side 2 differs only in having a period after "Hors.", but no colon after "Entertainment". No underlying layers.
Object Number: 1961.63.42
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