1930s Framed Alaska Pressed Flowers Ruth Miller Staats
This artwork was created in Alaska by Ruth Miller Staats (1904-1949), who lived in Ketchikan, Alaska. She was born in Oregon and moved to Alaska after her marriage to Joseph Staats in 1926. After being paralyzed in a plane crash in 1928 and confined to a wheelchair for life, she started a business in 1929, selling her pressed flower artwork to tourists and locals. Her friend, Grace K. Silverman (1876-1959), helped gather the flowers and make many of the items. Ruth Staats passed away at the age of 44 in Ketchikan. Items of hers are displayed in the Valdez Museum Historical Archive.
There are multiple dried flowers and grasses used; the list is on the reverse and includes exotics (to us) like Reindeer Moss and Alaska Cotton. They're mounted on a black velvet background under glass. It's all nicely framed in an oval wood frame in a medium brown stain with an inner old gold rim.
On the back of the picture, glued to the black dust paper, is a label that details all the information, including the early phone number, 290-3 (later on the prefix "Green" was added to the number. Alaska first got area codes in 1957.) There's an old-fashioned metal hanger, held on with tape, that does a good job keeping it on the wall (we tried it).
This pretty picture measures 9 inches from top to bottom, 7 inches wide and 1 inch deep. Weighing 12 ounces, it is in wonderful condition, with only a few tiny dents in the wood frame to show any wear. Made during the years 1929 and 1949, it displays beautifully for a near antique.
Interesting side note: Grace Silverman's father, Joseph A. Silverman, was the Katmai, Alaska, village doctor when the Great Volcanic Eruption occurred in 1912. He spent many days helping the natives there, along with Captain Perry of the ship "Manning" and his crew.