Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions
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  • Artist unidentified
  • Vicinity of Shelburne, Massachusetts
  • 1832
  • Paint on wood with wrought iron
  • 22 3/8 x 34 1/2 in.
  • American Folk Art Museum, gift of Margery and Harry Kahn, 1981.12.9

    Coffee, tea, and chocolate were introduced into England by the late seventeenth century, and coffeehouses quickly became centers of social and business interaction. By the eighteenth century, these establishments were imitated in America, where they offered current newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets and served as meeting places for social, political, military, religious, and secular activities. E. Fitts Jr. has not been identified, but his painted trade sign indicates the coffeehouse on one side and his store on the other. In addition to a large stock of hats, reams of fabric, and dry goods, the store may have offered some food or drink, as there are barrels stacked on one side and the shelves have a variety of pottery vessels.
  • Photo by John Parnell, New York