Guest post by Marilyn Gould. The Gould Collection is featured in the October 28, 2012 American Furniture & Decorative Arts Auction.
Shortly after moving to Wilton in 1976, Mike and I began to seek out local antiques shows. At one of the first, a Wendy show in Stamford, we met Margaret and Paul Weld. Our first purchase was an apple dryer to which Paul had wired three scythes. This remarkable couple introduced us to the concept of seeing how functional objects made for use on the farm, the barn and the kitchen could now become graphic decorative objects for modern homes. We began to pick up country things for our contemporary house in the woods.
When I gave up the fashion world and Women’s Wear Daily, I subscribed to Antiques and Arts Weekly and became more and more obsessed with the antiques business. At first our buying was unfocused, just things that caught our eye and seemed to fit a spot. As president and then director of the Wilton Historical Society, my knowledge of New England history and material culture grew, and I concentrated on kitchen iron and pottery made in Connecticut. As I became a show manager, I got to know so many great dealers and was exposed to so much material that we were like kids in a candy store. While I moved dealers in and set up the show, Mike walked the aisles looking for interesting things to buy, in a generally undisciplined manner.
With a serious interest in history and politics and a heart that skipped a beat at the sight of the flag and the bald eagle, I began to see these American symbols as a collecting theme. Creating museum and show exhibits helped to train my eye to see objects in historical context and as teaching tools rather than just graphic objects.
As a thematic collection it was easy to assemble objects in diverse media, wood, iron, tin, ceramics, textiles, toys, and Indian beadwork which featured red, white, and blue, stars and stripes, and eagles which told historical stories. Dealers soon learned of my interests and would point out things for my growing collection. However, lack of money and space restricted an insatiable appetite for “stuff” that bore my favorite images.
I was not able to collect rare and important folk art that would appear in coffee–table books. But I was able to assemble things that as a group told a story about America. I was thrilled when I put together prints and objects that told the story of the Civil War from battlefields to socks and glassware, especially six Currier and Ives prints that told the story of April, 1865. Alone they might seem insignificant, but together they tell us so much about a turbulent time in American history. There is so much material that expresses middle class life in the 18th and 19th centuries and exhibit the patriotism and love of America that was more common then. This might seem quaint or corny today, but it gives me great pleasure.
It has been so much fun to collect, study and display these remnants of our heritage. Now I hope that others will choose to add to their collections and express their patriotism and interest in history.