Diminutive Double-sided Optometrist Trade Sign. Probably New England, 19th Century.


Painted cast iron, with decoration on both sides. 4 x 12 inches

Delightful folk art representation of spectacles, with arched nose-piece and with paint-decorated eyes within the glass frames.  While large or oversize trade signs make dramatic statements, diminutive trade signs are more intimate in detail, survive in exceptionally fewer numbers, and are ultimately more practical to collectors. The eyeglass silhouette made for a particularly successful trade sign, and was the preferred form for optometrists. The inclusion of the eyes within the frames is an especially pleasing detail.

For other examples of optometrist trade signs, see Cecil A. Meadows, Trade Signs and Their Origins (London, 1957) and David Park Curry et al, An American Sampler: Folk Art from the Shelburne Museum (Washington DC, 1987), pp. 62-63, cat. no. 9.

Collection of Howard Feldman

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