When I saw this sweet miners bird cage boasting folk art flavor my heart skipped a beat and I hope yours will too. This piece of history once housed a delightful canary that helped alert miners of dangerous gas that entered the coal mines while they were working. Canaries were more susceptible to gas such as carbon monoxide and were checked often by the miners. If the canary suddenly stopped moving this would act as a warning sign for the miners to take action and vacate the mine. Once the canary was out of dangers way, he regained consciousness.
This piece possibly dates to the early turn of the century to the 1920 era and the smoke decoration painted on the top was probably created later. The colors consist of a pale green mixed in with ocean blue hues while the dramatic black “smudge dot” accents sprinkled on the roof at random present a very appealing folk art piece!
The right side of the cage reveals a small removeable drawer where the food would have been placed. A thin piece of wood with two cut out holes at the top along with a solid back resides on top of the drawer. The top area does show age related cracks and the back has indications of wood separation on the edges as shown in 2 & 24.
Above the drawer reveals a vertical sliding feature that when accessed and pulled upward creates an opening where the bird would have been placed inside as referenced in images 3 & 4. The wooden dowels now extend above the roofline (see image 3) when the door is open and can gently be pushed in a downward position to close. This door is a little fussy and hard to operate so we recommend using a gentle touch when using this feature.
The small drawer has a label inside that reads “1896 – 1932” and may give us a clue as far as the date of this piece but this is just a guess as shown in image 10. The drawer has a small loop that acts as a catch for the wire counterpart attached by way of a tiny screw just above as referenced in image 8. Only part of the drawer was painted and is held together by tiny nails.
A small tin barrel located in the back of the cage would have held the water and does show surface rust inside as referenced in images 20 % 21. The perch does not exhibit any paint and lends a dry attic surface. All of the wire bars on the cage are accounted for and possess vestiges of paint.
The overall condition is good and this piece shows well. There are some areas of slight paint loss located on the outside edges and also just above the drawer. The ceiling, perch and the wood in back of the feeder are not painted.
The carved black bird is also included as he is the perfect size and calls home on the top of the cage. He is just a delight and lends plenty of whimsy to the scene sporting wire legs that can be positioned at will so he will stand up straight.
The small size of this cage will not be a decorating dilemma and can even fit on a deep window sill with ease. You can certainly get creative when this cage is set on a table or tucked in a shelf that allows you to build around it by using bird’s nests, gourd eggs and even old miners lamps placed nearby. This is just a perfect and interesting accent that will fill your home with springtime magic! Enjoy!
Bird cage stands 5 ¼” tall, measures 7” across the front and measures 5” front to back. Bird measures almost 5” from the tip of his beak to the end of his tail, measures almost ¾” across his back @ the widest point and stands 1 ¾” tall in the front where his head is located.