Object of the Day

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“It screeched, it bellowed… Raucous? Yes. Crude? Undoubtedly.”
In celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month, Elizabeth Broman discusses selections from the Smithsonian Design Library's collection of jazz sheet music.
Coors Porcelain Company Vase
Even though the stamped marking on the underside of this vase reads “Coors Golden Colorado Pottery,” its coloring is not that of a pale ale. Rather, the exterior is painted with a cream-toned glaze, while its interior is coated in a light teal. This choice of matte glazing further calls attention to the stepped form...
Afternoon at the Museum
Little is known about this dress-weight cotton fabric, which arrived at the museum in a padded envelope with no return address. It was probably an inexpensive “novelty print” intended for the home-sewing market. This piece had been previously made up as a dirndl skirt, which requires very little shaping, so there is an uncut rectangular...
Hand-Beaten for Hand-Tossed Salad: Kalo Shop Salad Servers
Founded by Clara Barck Welles in 1900, the Kalo Shop was one of the most successful workshops of the Arts and Crafts movement. The name “Kalo” derives from the Greek word for beauty and the motto of the Kalo Shop was “Beautiful, Useful, and Enduring.”[1] The output of the Kalo Shop lived up to this...
Metals and Materials
This striking drawing, titled Altar Mensa for the Borghese Chapel in the Santa Maria Maggiore, is by a lesser known but influential architect, Mario Asprucci the Younger.  Using water color paint to achieve vibrant illustrations of various, colored marbles and metals, Asprucci captures the architecture’s sumptuous materials and allegorical themes. The Borghese Chapel was originally...
A Wall of Calligraphy
In this beautiful sidewall, layers of white, dark brown, and tan lines swirl into compositions reminiscent of chopped-up calligraphy. No words seem to be spelled out, and stylistically the calligraphy hovers between Arabic and Gothic scripts. The layering of the “words” in the paper causes us to see them primarily as ornamental forms, leading us...
Let There Be Light: Table Candlestand
One of the most precious household commodities before the advent of electric lights was the candle. Candles were typically burned at night, and only when necessary, as they were laborious to make and costly to buy. The best candles were made of pure beeswax, because these burned cleanly and emitted a pleasant honey odor. Another...
April Showers
Alexander Girard was one of the most influential textile designers of the mid-century period. Along with colleagues Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Eero Saarinen, he was a strong proponent of bringing an affordable modernism to the middle class. From 1952 to 1973, Girard served as head of the Textile Division of Herman Miller...
A New Look for Leathered Walls
Imitation leather papers meticulously reproduce the grain, patterns, and coloring of antique leathers. While these wallpapers were expensive to produce due to all the handwork necessary to capture the embossed leathers, they were much less costly, and quicker to produce, than actual leathers. This sample was produced by M. H. Birge & Sons around 1910,...