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Wallace Nutting Hand – Colored Photographs
Wallace Nutting sold many types of photographs in America 1900-1940″The Golden Age of Hand Color Painting” more than any other artist of his time. It is estimated that between 5,000,000-10,000,000 of his paintings adorned the walls of middle-class American homes in the early 1900s. Why was Wallace Nutting so successful? And n’ why are his pictures still being collected today? This story represents the beginning of the world of Photographs by Wallace Nutting.
Shortly after 1900, Wallace Nutting retired due to ill health (he was Minister of the Church in Providence RI at the time). As part of his recovery, he began touring the New England countryside by wagon or car, taking pictures of the New England countryside. Nutting was one of the first to recognize that the American situation was changing. Industrialization was changing the way our world looked and our clean and beautiful landscape would never look the same again. It seemed to be his divine calling to document the beauty of America for future generations.
Starting first in Vermont, then Massachusetts and Connecticut, and finally all of New England, Nutting began painting roads, streams, rivers, lakes, orchards, flowers, rivers, and mountains. Wallace Nutting paints the picture, divides the subject, and instructs his painters on how it should be painted by hand. Each image that meets Nutting’s high standards of color, design, and taste is matted and signed by his staff in a variety of styles.Wallace Nutting“Name. (He never signed any pictures personally). Pictures that did not meet his strict standards were destroyed. Starting first with outdoor pictures (Outside) in New England, Nutting eventually traveled to the United States and Europe, taking pictures. in 26 states and m ’17 foreign countries between 1900-1935.
It was around 1905 that Nutting bought his first house (Inside) images. It is said that one day when it was raining outside, Mrs. Nutting told him to take it again.Human” picture in the house. So, he set up a colonial scene, near the kitchen, had a worker dressed in colonial clothes, and took several different pictures. The past, his passion for the time of the pilgrims, and his undoubted desire to make a profit led him to purchase and restore five colonial buildings:
- Webb HouseWethersfield, CT
- Wentworth-Gardner HousePortsmouth, NH
- Cutler-Bartlett HouseNewburyport, MA
- Hazen-Garrison HouseHaverhill, MA
- Saugus Iron Works (Broadhearth)Saugu, MA
Nutting bought these houses because he felt that each represented a different period of style and taste in colonial America. It was here, along with its buildings Nuttinghame (Southbury, CT) and Nuttingholme (Framingham, MA), that many of its interior photographs were taken. Nutting’s desire to provide accurate and appropriate settings for him Inside These pictures made him want to collect one of the best American furniture collections ever. He can use the best examples of old American furniture in him Inside and, when they do not find it, they make it again. (We will look at her birthing chairs in the next article).
Working in Southbury CT from 1905-12, then in Framingham MA from 1912 until his death in 1941, Nutting sold literally millions of his color photographs. He claims to have sold 10,000,000 pictures although, knowing his tendency to exaggerate, the number is probably much higher.
Whatever the actual number was, it was huge. Wallace Nutting’s paintings are sometimes called “seals for the poor“. Sold throughout the first years of the 1900s, before these pictures were made, these pictures were originally sold for pennies. The market was middle-class…Wallace Nutting’s pictures were bought in large quantities because of their low price. Another possible reason .
Nutting sold many pictures directly through his studios where he also provided his own production services. But he also sold his pictures through many other places: department stores, drug stores, and gift shops, around the country. He also had regular vendors on the street whose only job was to sell his pictures to these stalls. Sellers who, he says, sold enough pictures to rest easy.
The height of Wallace Nutting’s picture fame was 1915-25. At this time Nutting had about 100 colorists in his employ, along with another 100 employees who worked as framers, storytellers, salespeople, managers, and various office workers. Make no mistake about it… Wallace Nutting’s pictures were big business. But by the late 1920s, people were getting tired of Wallace Nutting. Like other fashions or styles, tastes began to change over time. Wallace Nutting’s pictures changed and sales showed a slow decline. Even the introduction of various paddle styles, greeting cards, pen-style silhouettes, and inexpensive printing presses could not revive sales.
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the subsequent depression all but sealed the fate of Wallace Nutting’s picture business. Although it continued to work even after his death, its effects were negligible after the beginning of the 1930s. Over the years, millions of Wallace Nutting’s photographs may have been discarded. Most of those that remain show signs of 60-90 years of wear from being stored in attics and basements, with water stains, broken glass, dust, dirt, and mildew.
As the original owners of Wallace Nutting photos have grown or passed on, their Wallace Nutting photos have been passed down to another generation. Some were given directly as gifts, others inherited by children and grandchildren. Those that were not passed down to families were sold at auctions, estate sales, tag sales, and flea markets where they re-entered the collective ranks during the 1975-2000 period.
What are collectors looking for? As it was in the time of Wallace Nutting, Outside the pictures attract more attention. Inside Pictures have less appeal, but since they are rare, they often have a higher price than that Outside drawings. However, we have seen that as America’s interest is “The world“Visibility has decreased over the last 5-10 years, Nutting’s interest Inside the images are also soft.
The most important pictures for Nutting collectors are Uncommon Variety. These are images that come out of the norm Inside and Outside drawings: Architecture, Kids, Floral, Exotic, Men, Ocean, Snow shape, and a small number of places. Nutting’s original products in these groups were much smaller than his own Outside and Inside shows, which is why “/i>missing” attracts collectors. As in other areas of collecting, rare examples, which are in very good condition, are easy to sell, regardless of price. But important as need and story and culture. Collectors want the best pieces and defects such as water stains, scratches, faded colors, or damaged frames can reduce the value.
As of 2010 the auction record for a hand painted Wallace Nutting is $9,300.00, which is reasonable within the world of high priced Antiques & Collectibles. However, as the economy has softened, so have Wallace Nutting prices and perhaps 90% of Wallace Nutting paintings sell in today’s market for less than $150-$200. And most can be had for $50-$75 or less. Which means if you appreciate Wallace Nutting Pictures, now is the best time to buy them 25 years ago.
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