Devil Butler

Antique folk art devilish-looking wooden butler smoking stand, three feet tall, c. 1920s. His orange-tailcoated body is a two-dimensional cutout, but his head is skillfully carved into an eerie and grotesque but somehow still lifelike visage: his elongated nose and pointy cleft chin cut a jagged profile, pinhole eyes peer from under mischievously slanted eyebrows, thin lips curl in an ominous blood-red grin, and sharp cheekbones cast strange shadows across his swamp-green face. The ghoulish figure proffers a circular tray — made from a tin coffee can — from which he once likely tempted passersby with cigarettes. Now the servant of vice holds out an empty vessel, which makes his unwanted but accommodating presence somehow even more unsettling. Something about the insinuating tilt of his head and smug, knowing smile brings you to search not the flimsy tin for the purpose of his errand, but yourself. His unforgiving, conspiratorial gaze seems to assume a shared secret, an unspoken desire — perhaps something unsavory, even sinful — and though his mute encouragment is wooden, you still search the dark corners of your conscience to identify the wicked thing he holds before you. To encounter this inanimate, servile Satan is to place your own temptations upon his tray — and perhaps, as his demeanor of inevitability suggests, you will have no choice to accept what he has already taken from you.

 

Condition

Very good antique condition, with some scratches and minor paint loss. Please see photos.

 

Measurements

35 inches tall

12 inches wide

Wooden base 7 inches square

 

Shipping

Free in the continental United States. If an international buyer, please contact me for a shipping estimate by clicking here.

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$450

In stock