Undiscovered Treasure

On a farm that has been owned by the same family since Revolutionary War times, in a small outbuilding, the rich history of a long-forgotten industry was unearthed, revealing the products and tools of a trade left untouched for generations.

In 2007, Peter Hersey, great grandson of Reuben Hersey III, proprietor of the Toy and Box Shop, began restoring his family’s farm. The derelict outbuilding overlooking a pasture had been declared off-limits at least since his father was a child. Finally able to satisfy his curiosity about its contents, Peter struck off the old, rusted lock and opened the door. After clearing away some stored items, what he was astonished to see was a time capsule—an intact toy-making and coopering shop. The Reuben Hersey Toy and Box Shop had stood on Hersey Farm in Hingham, waiting to be discovered, for over a century.

The toy shop on Hersey Farm is the last furnished cooper’s shop standing in Hingham, and more significantly, it is the only pre-Industrial toymaker’s shop still in existence in America. The shop is of local and national historical significance as a reminder of a vibrant industry.

This discovery inspired renewed interest from historians in the famous coopering and toy-making industries in Hingham, and is the catalyst for a new book on this chapter of the town’s history. More than 400 toymakers and coopers worked in Hingham, crafting wares that were sold all over the country.

For the first time, the fascinating story of a lost trade has been told in “Bucket Town: Woodenware and Wooden Toys of Hingham, 1635-1945,” by Derin Bray, a nationally recognized authority on American art and antiques. The book has been published by the Hingham Historical Commission. To order a copy, visit www.buckettown.com.

Celebrating Realism

Born in North Carolina, artist John Crutchfield grew up on the South Shore and spent many a summer at Sandy Neck on Cape Cod, where he developed a great love and respect for the beauty of nature. His deep reverence for the natural world inspires his paintings.

A self-taught artist (his mediums are oil and acrylics), his artwork reveals a certain preference for realism. He was influenced by New Bedford artists Bob Duff and Ken Davies, also of the realist school. But he has his own predilections as well when it comes to art.

“I prefer painting on gesso board because the surface is smooth,” says Crutchfield. “Canvas causes the brush to skip and if you’re looking for sharp detail it’s much easier to get it on board.”

Crutchfield is a Russell Gallery member of the Plymouth Guild for the Arts and his work has been recognized in many regional shows including the award for “Best in Show” at the Quincy ArtFest in 2010 for his painting “Europa.” His paintings are on display in the Senate Lobby of the Massachusetts State House through Jan. 20. Crutchfield is also available for commissions. For more information, call 508-843-9506 or visit www.crutchfieldgallery.com.

Asian Connections

The Art Complex Museum in Duxbury offers an exciting exhibition focused on Asian art, which is one of the four collecting areas of the museum. The Asian collection includes over 1,450 works and spans more than 5,000 years. Almost every Asian country is represented in the museum’s collection but the majority of objects are from Japan, China, India and Persia. The remainder is from Tibet, Kashmir, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

This exhibition includes Chinese artwork created with a variety of materials and mediums, including paint, calligraphy, ceramics, bronze, prints, lacquer, jade, glass and textiles. It explores different themes, such as the religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Shinto and Confucianism, as well as Kabuki Theater and secular imagery of landscape and poets.

Most of Indian art is devoted to religious themes, especially Hindu ones focusing on a particular deity. The three main Hindu deities are Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Shiva, the Destroyer. Vishnu manifests himself as ten avatars or re-incarnations that appear when the world is in need of help.

Ceramics, particularly those of the 20th and 21st centuries, are a focus of the Japanese collection. Many were created for use in the museum’s Tea Ceremony. Edith Weyerhaeuser believed that understanding the Tea Ceremony was one of the best ways to learn about Japanese culture. This exhibit runs only through Jan. 18. 189 Alden St., Duxbury, 781-934-6634, www.artcomplex.org

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