The late Robert Bishop, early director of the Museum of American Folk Art (now the American Folk Art Museum) had a way of evaluating the objects in the collection. "Good, Better, Best" was his mantra, and the criteria for determining which was which took into account everything from shape and form to wear and surface.
The first thing any boy makes, out of wood anyway...is a birdhouse. Some pine, a handsaw, the careful first lesson with a drill press for the window, a dowel for the perch and a dozen nails. Shop teachers grade on it, Mothers coo like birds over it and Father helps hang it in the tree. Soon the birds appear and teach additional lessons.
Sometimes, like Billy, the slow sweeping boy in Larry McMurtry's novel "The Last Picture Show" birdhouse makers can't stop. Shown here, in order...and to illustrate the concept of good, better best are the following:
1. The Garage Workshop of Mr. Ivan Laycock (real name) from Central Michigan who sold hundreds of his ramshackle, permanent marker covered houses to vacationers, circa 1992.
2. A circa 1930 real photo post card showing the wares of an anonymous maker who favored the "pumpkin patch, christmas tree, pick your own" approach to selling.
3. The Granddaddy of all birdhouses being shown by, well.... someone's Granddaddy in a c. 1930 snapshot.
See also my book IN SITU: AMERICAN FOLK ART IN PLACE HERE
Birdhouses Original 35mm photography, c. 1992 Birdhouses Real Photo Postcard c. 1930 Birdhouse Snapshot c. 1930 All Collection Jim Linderman