On Tramp Art and Storage Wars.
I’m not messing around, today’s post comes courtesy of a Storage Wars marathon I partook in alongside my mother and sister on Sunday. This is a seriously addictive reality show in which a quirky auctioneer man with a Trump-esque toupée and his blonde sidekick lady-wife lead a pack of potential bidders around a storage facility. In each episode, the bidders have five minutes to look at the front of each open storage unit and then go to town in the hopes of scoring big. Sometimes they make a ton of money on the contents, sometimes it’s a bunk of junk they just payed thousands of dollars for, and SOMETIMES, lady luck gifts them with a kick ass 1930’s Tramp Art medicine cabinet. Yeah!! By far, my favorite moment was when husband and wife team Jarrod and Brandi found a piece very similar to the one below in the back of what looked like a doomed unit. I was literally jumping up and yelling at the TV, which left my fellow marathoners confused. (I am actually pretty confident that this is the cabinet they found, I remember the “1938” carving at the bottom, my detective skills are getting so good!)
I am compelled to say that I am not one to watch reality shows, I don’t want to ruin my cred here… so this speaks volumes to the magic of Storage Wars, I could keep on feeding you reasons why I sat there for so long, let’s just say that my old man crush on Barry Weiss, the collector with fantastic one liners and bowling shirts, didn’t make it easy to leave the couch. But I digress! These here is a post on my affection for Tramp Art, which is a woodworking style popularized in the late 1800s and early 1900s; it is mainly characterized by ornate layered whittling of many small pieces of wood, in which the outside edges are chipped or carved. The wood used for this style of folk art was typically from discarded cigar boxes and shipping crates. It was typically made in home settings all over the world by untrained men of every occupation. Although this art movement is not heavily documented, its importance should not be overlooked as the outcome is a collection of artwork consisting of pieces that are beautifully intricate and whimsical. Each piece is a unique treasure.
Bottom row (left to right): Tramp art sliding top box with a carved heart on its top, Fine tramp art basket with glass handles and a scalloped top
“Barry owned a produce company until he retired and is only looking for a few collector’s items to keep. He sells or donates everything else. While Barry is a lifelong antique collector, he had no involvement in buying storage units until his friend and Storage Wars executive producer Thom Beers suggested he join the show. Barry is the best financed of the group and is the only one not in it for financial profit.”