National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Toleware Box Toleware Box
Rendered by John H. Tercuzzi (artist), 1935/1942
watercolor, graphite, and gouache on paperboard
overall: 33.9 x 40.7 cm (13 3/8 x 16 in.) Original IAD Object: 9 1/8" wide; 6 1/4" deep; 7 3/4" high
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Metalwork from the Index of American Design
Object 8 of 17

Toleware is painted tinplate. Also called "japanned-ware," it originated in the Orient, spread to Europe, and then to America, where its height of popularity was reached in the nineteenth century. Because toleware was prized for its decoration, it was often presented as a wedding or birthday gift and reserved for display. Like this box, toleware was generally painted with a black asphaltum varnish that imitated lacquer. The decoration was executed with oil paint in bright yellow, greens, blues, and oranges. Fruits, flowers, and ornamental swirls provided common motifs. This document box was a type used for string money, jewels, and valuable papers. It was probably made in the early nineteenth century at Stevens Plains, Maine, a center for toleware manufacture in that period. The box is painted with asphaltum and decorated with a type of oil color associated Connecticut jappaners. The box has been attributed to Oliver Buckley, a japanner who was trained in Connecticut and settled in Stevens Plains. His designs usually feature a round spot of orange with brushstrokes overlaid. Leaf forms fill the areas between spots. The handle of the box is made of cast brass and is bolted to the lid with two round brass plates.

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