Overall: 12 x 3 1/4 x 4 in. ( 30.5 x 8.3 x 10.2 cm )
painted: on front below opening: "SM"
hand written: collector's label affixed to back: "2651 / Swiss"
Flat back wooden whetstone holder with red, green, yellow, and blue painted decoration composed of heart, two flowers and concentric circles; two holes for mounting on wall on either side.
This object was once part of the folk art collection of Elie Nadelman (1882-1946), the avant-garde sculptor. From 1924 to 1934, Nadelman's collection was displayed in his Museum of Folk Arts, located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The Historical Society purchased Nadelman's entire collection in 1937. Reapers filled these carved wooden flasks with water, strapped them onto their belts and carried them into the fields in order to keep a whetstone moist in the event that they needed to sharpen their scythe. Though prevalent throughout northern Europe, the shape and ornamentation of this oblong cylindrical holder is characteristic of the Swiss type, which often featured carved running ornaments and rosettes or painted hearts, bull's eyes and flowers. The flask, which was alternatively called a Wetzsteinköcher ("whetstone quiver") and a Wetzsteintasche ("whetstone pocket"), featured a tapered point at the base that allowed peasants to stake the quiver upright into the ground when resting from their labors in the fields, thus preventing the water from pouring out of the opening at the top.
Purchased from Elie Nadelman, 1937
The Folk Art Collection of Elie Nadelman
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.