Rare 19th Century Painted Indian Meal Firkin
Unusual Original Two Toned Gray and Black Paint Decoration
Circa Late 19th Century: This truly unusual original polychromatic paint decorated 19th century firkin was used to store Indian Meal, a course ground cornmeal used in baking. The term "Indian meal" was first coined in 1609 when the whites began to emigrate from Europe to the American shores and began integrating Native American tribal foods into their daily diet. Standing just over 13" tall not including the handle and measuring 11 1/2" in diameter at the top and just over a foot at the bottom, this large firkin was most certainly a mercantile piece from a general store or bakery who would have the need to carry bulk staples in easily movable labeled large containers made out of wood rather than heavy and difficult to move stoneware storage containers.
Constructed of wooden staves and pegs, bentwood handle and lap joints, round nail (some nails added later) and staples, this wonderful late 19th century New England firkin shows only expected wear from age and use such as one old replaced nail, minor water damage to the paint and typical in use paint wear. These issues do not impact the firkin's structural integrity and merely lend creedence to its originality and the age of its creation. With a wonderfully painted and scripted label and a super unusual two toned gray and black color scheme, an antique American painted firkin of this size and scarcity is among the best of its class and will be the centerpiece of any collection of antique painted woodenware, country store items, folk art, Americana, or primitive country antiques.
Provenance: Ex Stephen-Douglas Antiques