Historical Collections

Shaker Collection

Shaker case Shaker desk. Shaker lap desk made at Mt. Lebanon Shaker Community, c. 1830.

The Museum has a large and important Shaker Collection. It was begun in 1926 when the Church Family, Watervliet, Shakers sold their buildings to Albany County for the Ann Lee Home. The Shakers assisted Museum curators in gathering and documenting the materials from that community.

With help from the remaining Shakers, the Shaker collection at the Museum continued to grow during the 1930s and 1940s as the number of Shakers diminished, and they were forced to give up their buildings and large land holdings. During these years, the South Family at Watervliet closed and the remaining Families at Mt. Lebanon closed.

Shaker chair Shaker chair. Shaker side chair made at Mt. Lebanon Shaker Community, c. 1852, with pewter tilters on the rear legs.

Artifacts included in this extensive collection include furniture, stoves, baskets, oval boxes, buckets, textiles and clothing, seed and herb packaging material, architectural elements, cans and bottles. The comprehensive Shaker collections at the Museum comprise not only finished products, but also the tools and equipment used to produce the products. These include basket molds, bonnet molds, farming equipment, presses for printing herb labels, presses for pressing herbs, choppers, looms, spinning wheels, sewing equipment, and casting patterns. Even raw materials such as splints for basket weaving, palm for making bonnets, and rolls of Shaker chair tape are present.

Material associated with the daily life of this communal society are also represented. Laundry tubs and equipment, kitchen equipment, school desks, the only surviving Shaker fountain stone, and prints and photographs of various Shaker communities, and transportation items, including a coffin carrier, are just a few of these other items.

Since the Museum's Shaker collection covers a variety of subject areas, it is necessary to contact the curator whose expertise lies in the area you may be interested in.

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Toys, Games & Dolls

Cloth doll Cloth Doll. Printed by the Art Fabric Mills of Fort Plain, New York, patented February 13, 1900. Early printed cloth dolls were frequently premiums, offered by a company as an advertising gimmick for a small sum or proof of purchase. The doll pieces were cut out, stitched together, stuffed with rags, and frequently dressed from scraps around the house. This doll is dressed in pieces of an old paisley shawl.

This collection contains children's' play things, from early board and card games to cast iron fire engines, pull toy animals and bisque dolls, early Barbie dolls and tin clockwork toy appliances, baseballs, gloves and bats and a number of large doll houses.

Tin toy Buck Rogers Rocket Police Patrol. A tin mechanial toy, based on the comic book hero Buck Rogers from the 25th century. Made by Louis Marx & Co, New York City, patented March 15, 1937.

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History Collections
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