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Paint-decorated Leather Firebucket

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American Furniture & Decorative Arts - 2431
Date / Time :
November 01, 2008 3:00PM


Paint-decorated Leather Firebucket, Canton, Massachusetts, c. 1816, the "No. 3" fire bucket centered with a bowknot suspending an oval reserve painted with a volcano over two banners inscribed "VULCANUS CEDAT NEPTUNO," and " J. BALESTAIR," "No. 1" and "No. 2," on an yellow-orange painted ground, black-painted collar and handle, (handle detatched, imperfections), ht. to collar 12 1/4 in.

Provenance: Given 30 years ago by a member of the Revere family to the consignor.

Note: The depiction of a volcano, along with the year 1816, on this fire bucket most probably refers to what is commonly called in North America, "The Year Without a Summer," when snow fell in June and frost appeared in July.
In April 1815, Mount Tambora in present-day Indonesia generated the "most powerful eruption in recorded history," according to the U.S. Geological Survey. This catastrophe killed more than 90,000 people, burying entire towns in ashes and lava. The volcano's enormous columns of ash, smoke, and sulfur polluted the entire atmosphere, which, in turn, disrupted weather patterns, causing crops to fail across the Western Hemisphere and global temperatures to decline.
In New England, the increased sulfur in the air produced a persistent "dry fog," dimming the sunlight and giving the sky an otherworldly orange tint, as depicted in this fire bucket. The previous year's eruption might have made the New England days prettier, but it also made them much colder. According to a June 1816, Salem, Massachusetts, newspaper account, the "cold weather, and even frost still continue. About 10'oclock on Sunday morning, ice was drawn from the well at the toll house on the turnpike, after sunrise, and there was frost again on Sunday evening." Other travelers reported "large icicles" across the northern part of Massachusetts.

Estimate $4,000-6,000

Leather straps securing handle are deteriorated, (handle is detached), collar is split down the back about 2 1/4 in. and about 1/2 down back seam, then tear turns horizontal about 3 1/2 in. both ways (all on back of bucket). two other tears in leather on back 11/2 and 1 in. lg. scattered paint losses and surface cracks.


Massachusetts, No. 2, No. 3, No. 1, New England, Mount Tambora, Indonesia, Salem, Bucket, Igneous rocks, Plate tectonics