Of the articles and books that we have seen on Tramp Art, this stands out as the best so far. While it is impossible to completely cover in detail all aspects of any subject in one reasonably sized book; the authors have reached a nice balance of detail and breadth of subject. The photographs of tramp art in the main are striking; and the information valuable and considerable.
This is not an inexpensive book, but it is obvious that this project took a substantial investment of time and effort to produce. (It is self-published). For the price you will get the best reference available at this time. However, it is not all inclusive; and can not be considered "the bible of tramp art". To get both more information and balance, you will need to acquire other books.
"Tramp Art, One Notch At A Time" goes into some detail on the history of tramp, the ways it is made, who did and now does it, and tries to give a sense of relative values of different works. In this it generally succeeds fairly well; while also providing a very wide pictorial view of many examples, through numerous photos.
What is discussed and shown in this book tends to revolve more toward the traditional and American. Little is written regarding non-American tramp; although it certainly is touched upon, and some examples are pictured. Overall, what is discussed, however, will certainly add to almost any reader's knowledge, no matter how informed he or she is; or how long that person has been collecting.
In the midst of this well done work, a few weaknesses stand out. Some tramp art forms are not shown at all, and some very lightly. There seems to be a definite bias toward the highly chip carved and layered pieces, with few examples of the odd or funky. Finally, the "Value Index" is highly subjective with a lack of consistency; which makes it difficult or impossible to really use. No actual values in today's market are given - even as a reference point (which we understand is difficult in a changing market). It is not something we would suggest one try to rely upon, more than in a very general sense, either in determining relative or actual values.
On the other hand, certain strengths also stand out. Very little has been shown about some of the combinations of tramp art with other forms. This is touched upon, although there is great room for elaboration. There has been little written about current makers; and here we can find a fair amount of information. And finally, the list of known older makers can be very helpful to collectors.
"Tramp Art, One Notch At A Time" is both an attractive reference and coffee table book. Taken as a whole, we would certainly recommend it.
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The author, Clifford Wallach states "Tramp Art, One Notch At A Time, is the first book to provide an in-depth study on Tramp Art's true techniques, materials, and the most important- the men who made this wonderful, whimsical folk art.
With the help of over 100 collectors, dealers, and museum curators, we were able to examine over 6,000 artifacts from all over the United States. We hope you enjoy the historical photographs of past makers, some proudly standing with their masterworks, and all in full color!"
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