It has been said that ‘color is energy’. Although I can’t definitively explain that concept, I have a sense of its meaning. Whether it’s the intensity in a clear blue sky or the vast array of colors found in a sunset, most of us react to such displays in nature with positive feelings. We use color in everyday life from basics like choosing our clothes to decide what color to paint the walls in our home.
No doubt it is paint that brings most of the color to us in our daily life. Pre-mixed paints became common in the 1870s when factories began producing a variety of ready-to-use paint. However, paint existed long before it was commercialized. Up until that time the mixing of paint was a task within itself generally made on the job as the shelf life of such paints was short.
But no doubt color was an important part of life in the 18th and 19th centuries. And there’s no reason to believe these colors were dull. In fact, paint was often quite vibrant as the result of the amount of pigment used in mixing a particular color. Actually brilliant colors were very popular. Thomas Jefferson painted the dining room at Monticello chrome yellow while George Washington chose Prussian blue for the west parlor of Mount Vernon.
It is no wonder that at the same time household items were also painted bringing color and variety to everyday objects found in the early home. It is these objects such as pantry boxes, mortar and pestles, firkins, bowls, and more that have become highly prized among collectors over the years. It is certain that unpainted objects have always outnumbered their painted counterparts. This has served to make the painted piece more desirable as is often reflected in the value of the piece. When comparing the two one must consider each is made of wood. It can only be the paint that makes the difference!