Groan, I know...but what do you expect from an English prof and former librarian...my apologies to Mr. Hemingway and John Donne, but it was a hot week...the mind does drift in 100+ degree heat and matching humidity!
All right...tole trays...let us consider them...technically, tole describes French painted tin wares, not American products, and the English produced tin tea trays with the pierced borders long before Americans.
The term tole is French, meaning a lacquered or enameled metalware, usually gilded and elaborately painted. The painting technique developed in the the 1700s and was called "one stroke" painting. It enabled artists to paint pottery, trays, and furniture quickly...commericialism is not new!
From the 1920s through the 1940s, American decorating experienced a colonial revival. As a result, tole painting gained favor...here is a close up of the wooden fireplace screen in the shop...it is 1920s era.
The Mexicans created a wood tole painting style. These are 1950s wood batea "bowls," a Mexican folk art done on bowls that were originally used by Mexican and Californian miners for washing sands and pulverized ores.The Scandavians developed a style that has a tole feel. There is Rosemaling (Norwegian rose painting, a form of decorative flower painting that originated in the low-land areas of eastern Norway around 1750. Rosemaling designs use C and S strokes and feature scroll and flowing lines, floral designs, and subtle colors. Script lettering, scenes and figures may also be included.
But, most people relate tole to the trays from the American Colonial Revival.Many of the trays will have the Nashco label on the back; this New York company made most of the tole trays that are available today.
I have an ivory colored one that has an artist label and is out of Philadlephia so there were other companies, but I have not seen many other labels.
Although most of the trays are black, I have had green, Chinese red, and Wedgwood blue. All the ones in stock now are black except for the ivory one above. This is a large round tray with a hanger on the back.
And this is a smaller oval. I have had desk accessories, but they sold before I could get pictures.
When it comes to pricing, these trays have been shown in Country Living with a value of $145!!! Now, I know the housing bubble burst, and I do believe the antique folks should pay attention. While $50 for a large tray is acceptable, I do not believe triple digit prices are in order for the simple trays.
But, remember as this summer heat continues, “Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.”