Here is a carved frame with
Masonic symbols made for an early Mark Master certificate dated 1871.
The certificate was backed with a pattern which includes the name, "J.H.
Bellamy." The Masonic
symbols have been cleverly arranged to simulate armorial devices.
"Thanks" from Brother Al Lohman, a 30 year collector and 30+ year
Masonic Lodge member from Wisconsin. Al trades on eBay under the User ID
Bellamy 1836 - 1914
John Haley Bellamy was a wood
carver in Maine, Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Boston. Although he is best
known for his ship figureheads and carved eagles, he also carved decorative
pieces and family coats of arms. Heraldry was a hobby of his and his
familiarity with the subject is obvious in the design of the above pictured
frame. Born in 1836 in Kittery Point, Maine, John Haley Bellamy worked in
Boston as a young man in the shop of the ship carver Laban Beecher (1805-1876)
and later attended the New Hampton Literary institute. Sometime after
1857, Bellamy began his career as a carver, working first at a shop on
Washington street in Boston and later back home in Maine. By the time he
was thirty, his work was beginning to be recognized for its creativity.
Though he never considered himself an artist, he was fiercely proud of his
creations: "There is one thing I can say as to this work of mine. It is
original with me and never known or heard of until I produced it." In
addition to his well-known eagles, Bellamy's output included clock cases, signs,
frames, animal figures, and furniture. Despite enjoying a reputation as a
master carver, shipping his pieces throughout the country, and patenting six
types of clock cases and an oarlock by 1880, Bellamy never achieved true
financial security. Part of this is due to his restless nature which never
allowed him to stay in one position, no matter how successful, for too long.
Regardless, Bellamy never stopped carving, and, by the time of his death, his
work was well-known. When Bellamy died in 1914, The Portsmouth Herald
wrote prophetically that "his name and his carvings will probably be known
longer to the outside world than that of any ... man from (Portsmouth)."
Bellamy's most famous work is the
monumental Eagle figurehead carved in the late 1870s for the ship U.S.S.
Lancaster in Portsmouth, removed from the ship in the 1920s. Despite
weighing 3,200 pounds and displaying an eighteen foot wingspan, the Lancaster
Eagle is Bellamy's masterpiece, exemplifying his skill in using simple lines to
convey action. The only identifiable figurehead carved by Bellamy, the
Lancaster Eagle is in the collection of the Mariner's Museum in Newport News,
Twenty-one years after his death,
Victor Stafford, Bellamy's nephew, published "John Haley Bellamy, The
Woodcarver of Kittery Point" in The Magazine Antiques, which was the first
national article to explore his life and work. A later, more scholarly,
treatment of his life and work is Yvonne Brault Smith's John Haley Bellamy;
Carver of Eagles published in 1982.