An Early 20thC Painted Papier-Mâché Scarecrow Owl c.1900-20

Origin: English
Period: Early 20thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1900-20
Height: 8.75”
Width: 4.5”
Depth: 4” (all at extremities)

The unique and most certainly charming hand painted decoy model of a stylised barn owl, acting as a scarecrow or bid scarer, the whole in papier-mâché with glass eyes and hollow form, surviving from the first quarter of twentieth century England.

Remaining in good overall condition considering the fragility, the owl proves very decorative, though he is fragile and with one stained repair to the front as photographed. He is otherwise pleasingly untouched and the glass eyes remain original.

Papier mâché became an industry in England in 1772 when Henry Clay of Birmingham took out a patent for its making and as a result produced the inexpensive plastic of its time, easily be molded into desired shapes. As indicated by its name, it was mashed or pulped paper, which was first, molded, then baked, to drive off the moisture that had reduced it to pulp. When it became firm and hard it was finished with an enamel-like coat of paint and was then ready for a wide variety of decorative treatment.

Scarecrow genealogy is rooted in a rural lifestyle. The Egyptians used the first scarecrows in recorded history to use to protect wheat fields along the Nile River from flocks of quail. Inventors came up with new and improved decoys and tried owls because many birds and small mammals, like rabbits, are frightened of the winged predator.

A scarce item and now a very charming table-top titillation.