Historical Collections

Decorative Arts

Sofa Sofa. Renaissance Revival walnut sofa attributed to Thomas Brooks & Company, Brooklyn, c. 1870.
Treasures from the Wunsch Americana Foundation

The Decorative Arts Collections consist of furniture, silver, ceramics, lighting devices, and other household decorations. The emphasis is on items made and used in New York State, as a result many items in these collections are labeled by their makers.

The Furniture Collection covers the period 1680 to 1950, and includes many labeled examples by New York cabinetmakers. Among those New York City cabinetmakers represented are: Thomas Burling (working 1769-1802), Michael Allison (1773-1855), Richard Allison (1780-1825), Duncan Phyfe (1768-1854), Joseph Meeks and Sons (working 1829-1835), John and Joseph W. Meeks (working 1836-1860), Alexander Roux (1813-1886), George Platt (1812-1873), George Hunzinger (working 1866-1899) Leon Marcotte, and others.

Coverlet Piano. Classical carved and stenciled piano by Morgan Davis with case attributed to Duncan Phyfe, New York City, c. 1825.

Upstate cabinetmakers represented in the collections are from localities across New York State encompassing every region. Furniture by Roycroft, Gustav Stickley, and L. and J. G. Stickley represents the Arts and Crafts Movement. The Shaker furniture collection which was donated to the Museum by the Shakers themselves, comes largely from the Watervliet, Mt. Lebanon, and Groveland Communities.

The ceramics collections feature a handsome assortment of decorative stoneware made in virtually every area of New York State. The most outstanding examples are in the Adam Weitsman Collection, and include a 28 inch high, 50 pound stoneware pitcher decorated with an American eagle. This piece was used as an advertising piece by Burger and Harrington of Rochester, c. 1852. Earthenware from central New York comprises another collection, and there are also a number of pieces of art pottery from Hudson Falls, and Dunkirk, New York. A collection of historical staffordshire displays New York State views.

New York State silver in the Museum's collection consists of late eighteenth and nineteenth century examples. A study collection of flatware bears a variety of New York silversmith's marks.

The lighting device collection represents various types of lighting used in New York State from 1620 to 1900. Rush holders, whale oil lamps, lard lamps, Kerosene lamps, Argand lamps, Astragal lamps, plus others make up this comprehensive collection.

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Hand Tub Hand Tub. Built in 1791, this portable pump provided fire protection for Lansingburgh (now North Troy) until 1832. The two-cylinder, single acting pump discharged through the gooseneck. Buckets supplied the water. Gift of the John S. Fake Hook and Ladder Company.

A group of twelve fire fighting vehicles form the core of the New York State Museum's. All but one of these are part of a permanent display of fire apparatus at the Museum. The apparatus ranges from a hand tub acquired by the village of Lansingburgh in 1791 to a 1953 Ward-LaFrance pumper used and donated by the village of Maplewood. Other notable pieces include a Button and Blake hand engine from 1863, a Clapp and Jones steam engine built in 1875, and an American-LaFrance water tower purchased by the city of Albany in 1926. [All the vehicles in the fire collections are described in a booklet, The Fire Apparatus at the New York State Museum, available from the Museum].

Hand Tub Hand Tub. Leslie's magazine depicted the Lansingburgh hand tub, erroneously labeled "Old Black Joke", in 1889. An older tub survives at the American Museum of Fire Fighting in Hudson.

Other fire related material includes helmets, lanterns, alarm boxes, commerative ribbons, banners, play pipes and graphics such as engraved prints and posters. The donation by Dr. Thomas S. Walsh in 1987 of his private collection brought an outstanding group of nineteenth century lanterns, helmets and other small fire fighting artifacts to the Museum.

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History Collections
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