The Houston Museum of Decorative Arts is celebrating the election process and the American freedoms it represents with a special Americana exhibit. The exhibit features ceramic, glass, metal and wooden pieces that reflect the nation’s political past.
The Houston Museum contains a number of political and patriotic objects. The Americana exhibit focuses on pieces of the presidency, artifacts highlighting the American eagle and patriotic novelties.
Presidential pieces include several ceramic pitchers commemorating George Washington and a ceramic mug; a Lincoln Drape patterned water goblet and pressed-glass log cabins commemorating Abraham Lincoln. A rare flint enamel pitcher formed in the likeness of Zachary Taylor celebrates the 12th president’s role in the Mexican-American War. Two “Toby” jugs represent President William McKinley; one portrays McKinley as Napoleon, in keeping with the political satire of his day.
The federal eagle is pictured in many of the items in the exhibit. An early 20th-century earthenware tankard, a brass eagle, a pair of miniature night lamps and a rare 1892 coin-glass lamp display likenesses of the American eagle. Coin glass was briefly produced by U.S. Glass Company using U.S. coins as part of the mold into which glass was pressed. The U.S. Treasury Department forced the company to discontinue coin glass production because use of the coin pattern constituted a form of counterfeiting.
Novelty items include a glass bank formed as the Liberty Bell, an Uncle Sam syrup jar and an occupational shaving mug adorned with the name Henry Aldefer and an American flag. Practical precursors to business cards, occupational shaving mugs portrayed the name and vocation of their owners. Mr. Aldefer may have been a military man, and he was a patriot.
The Americana exhibit is open through Nov. 11, Thursday-Sunday, noon-4 p.m. and other times by appointment. Admission is $9 for adults, $3.50 children under 17. Half-price admission is on the first Sunday of each month.
The Houston Museum has also launched a new website, designed by Phillip Stevens, www.thehoustonmuseum.org.
Part of the Americana exhibit at the Houston Museum