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Item Details

Americana, Paintings & Maritime Art

July 29 - July 31, 2015

Lot #1182
Sold For$60,000.00(hammer price)
 $72,000.00(price including buyer's premium)
Last UpdatedAugust 31, 2017


Multicolored sand arranged in a clear glass wax-sealed apothecary bottle. Striated borders spanning the full circumference frame a central image on both sides. Obverse with personalized inscription for Clara Schaum" over a vignette of an American ship. Dated "1887" in lower border. Reverse depicts a rectangular vignette of an American eagle clutching an American flag. Residue from artist's label on underside, but the label itself is missing. Height 7".
Provenance: Purchased by Clara Schaum, circa 1887.
By descent in the family.

Andrew Clemens, deaf and mute for nearly his entire life, created painstakingly detailed artworks with grains of sand. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1857, Clemens and his family moved to McGregor, in the northeast corner of Iowa, when he was an infant. A bout with encephalitis as a small child caused his deafness.
At age 13 he entered the Iowa State School for the Deaf and Dumb and began “sand painting” during summer vacations. He collected naturally colored grains of sand from an area in Pikes Peak State Park called Pictured Rocks. Clemens would sort the sand into piles of subtly different hues of ivory, green, red, brown, yellow, gray and blue, then he inserted the grains into glass bottles using homemade tools made from sticks and wire. He used no glue – the compression of the sand alone holds the image together.
His artwork grew from simple geometric patterns to the complex designs you see here, some taking more than a year to create. Amazingly, some were created upside down. His period of greatest activity was from 1880 to 1886, but of the hundreds of pieces he created, it is estimated only about fifty still exist intact. He died in 1894 at age 37.



Under no circumstances will Eldred ship this item. It is recommended that the item be picked up at our galleries by the winning bidder.

The description of the item above may not be the final version used in the catalog. The descriptions are as yet unedited and may contain mistakes. The description, estimates and photos could all be wrong. In rare cases they may not end up in this sale. Once the items have received their lot number the descriptions will have been changed if needed.

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