Heck Yes, Americana

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ca. 1870-90’s, [Apothecary bottle with a patriotic sand art design within], Andrew Clemens

Andrew Clemens of Dubuque, Iowa, spent most of his life in nearby McGregor. Due to voice encephalitis, he lost both voice and hearing and was sent to the Iowa Institute for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb. There, Clemens began experimenting with sand art, collecting multicolored sands from the Pictured Rocks region of Iowa. He fashioned special tools that he used to arrange the sand in intricate designs and then pack it tightly (he used no glue of any kind). Sizes and designs varied, and orders came to Clemens from around the world, each customer paying about five to seven dollars. As his skill developed, his subjects ranged from boats and ships to flowers, flags, and eagles. Clemens, dubbed “the portrait painter without a brush or paint,” died in 1894. He is thought to have produced hundreds of bottles during his lifetime, but few survive today.

via Cowan’s Auctions

  • 23 October 2012
  • 357