This is a fantastic piece of contemporary art in the form of a train railroad coal car made by the Hermitage Des Artistes in New York State.
The car is 16 1/4" long x 8 1/2" tall x 7 1/4" wide and is in wonderful condition.
This piece was made by Michael Lavery and his group sometime in the 1980'ss or 1990's. If you look them up on the internet you will see that his art sells from $40 to $40,000.
The group used to ship their tramp art in boxes made to look like trains. People kept requesting them to make train cars so they did and here is one of them. Here is an excerpt from a letter he recently wrote that talks about this piece:
HI THANX FOR BEING A FAN. THE BOX THAT YOU HAVE IS A COAL TENDER WHICH SERVED AS A LETTER FILE THAT SAT ON TOP OF A RAILROAD DESK THAT I DID SOME YEARS AGO. IT MUST HAVE PARTED WAYS AFTER BEING ON EXHIBIT AT THE MCI CENTER IN WASH DC I BELIEVE THE DESK IS NOW AT THE FOLK ART MUSEUM (SMITHSONIAN). IF I COME ACROSS A PHOTO OF IT ILL EMAIL IT TO YOU.
THANKYOU FOR YOUR INTEREST MICHAEL LAVERY
BIO of Hermitage Des Artistes Michael Lavery
"A group of formerly desperate men sharing a history of poverty and despair came together around 1991 as the "Hermitage Artists" a communal home and guild of tramp art crafters in Troy New York. They produced tramp art boxes, picture frames and accepted special commissions. The Hermitage received extensive media coverage, their work has appeared in museum exhibitions and is preserved in private, cooperate and museum collections. The Hermitage Artists disbanded in 2002 though several members have expressed the intention to continue making tramp art. "
Tramp art is a little known form of folk art which began in the United States in the early 1860s, created by homeless travelers. After the Civil War, many homebound soldiers found they had no homes or families remaining. Traveling across the country in search of work and meaning, these folks who hopped freight trains were known as tramps or “home bounds,” later abbreviated “hobos.” The rail riders learned the trade of tramp art to keep themselves occupied and to have something to exchange for food. Respectfully, they would stand outside the threshold of someone’s home and ask to exchange a newly created tramp art box for a sandwich, never stepping inside the home. The food was handed out the door, hence the term “handout.”
What makes this art form special, besides its obvious necessity, was that it was whittled exclusively from found materials, particularly mahogany and cedar cigar boxes, which could be picked up practically anywhere. These boxes were hand notched with V-cuts and layer after layer was added, each one slightly smaller than the one preceding it, stacked and connected to create a pyramid. Tramp art became spiritual and therapeutic work in many ways—the repetitive process of layering and notching can be viewed as a form of meditation, an expression of pain, a symbol of growth and evolution.