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Sign for Dyer's Inn
about 1823
Maker:Made by William Rice , American, 1777 - 1847
Original Owner:Originally owned by Zenas Dyer , American, 1788 - 1856
Paint on pine board
Primary Dimensions (height x width including hardware): 43 3/8 x 62 1/2in. (110.2 x 158.8cm) Other (height x width of sign only): 40 7/8 x 62 1/2in. (103.8 x 158.8cm)
Credit Line: Collection of Morgan B. Brainard, Gift of Mrs. Morgan B. Brainard
Gallery Copy: The beehive and plow were common symbols of industriousness and were also used to mark notices of agricultural interest in early 19th-century newspapers. Since an annual agricultural fair was held at Dyer’s Inn, the image was appropriate. The phrase “Hold or Drive” comes from a longer maxim urging attention to one’s business and popularized by Benjamin Franklin. The surface has been heavily repainted and the original frame was replaced.
Description: Images: On side 1, plow and beehive with bees, centered inside horizontal oval band. On side 2, a small floret, centered inside an oval wreath, inside horizontal oval band. Text: On side 1, inside top of oval, "HOLD or DRIVE."; inside bottom of oval, "Z. DYER." On side 2, inside top of oval, "STRANGERS HOME."; inside bottom of oval, "Z. DYER." Signature: On both sides, in lower right corner, "Rice". Construction: Two boards, grain oriented horizontally. Set within the channels of plain board moldings, mitered at corners, and nailed to the edges with a quarter round molding nailed on the inside edges. No structural frame, no pediment or skirt.
Technique Note: Surfaces show evidence of weathering and extensive repainting, evidently following the weathered outlines and color scheme of earlier versions. The plow, beehive, and most of the bees are raised above the surrounding background, probably as a result of weathering. The ovals were laid out with the aid of a mechanical device; centering holes are visible on side 2. The design is painted in two shades of green and an ocher brown, on a green background; lettering is currently bronze paint with glossy black outlines. The flocked surface, made by adding dry pigment to a mordant layer, has not survived well, tending to wash away under outdoor conditions. Historical Note: Original location. The Dyer inn occupied a rise overlooking the Farmington River Valley, along the heavily traveled Albany-Hartford Turnpike (now Route 44). The dwelling still stands on Dyer Cemetery Road, a small side road parallel to Route 44, just east of Route 179 (the widening and straightening of Route 44 moved the main road away from the old inn). The house remained in the possession of the family until at least 1956, when it displayed a sign, "Margaret's Salteds," announcing Margaret Dyer's thriving business in fudge and salted nuts.
Object Number: 1961.63.20
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