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Have a glorious Fourth of July!

This porcelain figurine depicts a colonial fifer and two drummers and is modeled after “The Spirit of ’76,” an 1875 oil painting by Archibald Willard (1836-1918). The figurine is owned by a staff member at Kovels. It’s 12 by 11 inches and was made by the Bailey-Walker China Co. of Willard’s hometown of Bedford, Ohio. She thinks it might be a prototype of what became a limited edition, gifted to her great-grandfather by Archibald Willard himself.

Many other items have been made that recreate the patriotic Spirit of ’76 image – everything from figurines, plates and mugs to metal banks, stamps and coins. Here are some that we found:


Spirit of ’76 Porcelain Figure

Wedgwood plate, Spirit of ’76 image, blue & white transfer, marked, From the painting by Willard in Abbott Hall, Marblehead, 10 1/2 in., price estimate $30, Ruby Lane


Carnival glass plate, Spirit of ’76 – American Bicentennial 1776 – 1976, amber, Indiana Glass Co., 8 in., $5 to $23 on eBay

Flow blue plate, Spirit of ’76 image, marked Cauldon, 12 in., $91 (Ivey-Selkirk, 2017)

Stoneware pitcher, blue Spirit of ’76 image, salt glaze, tree bark ground, White’s Utica, $30 (Woody, 2016)

Casino token, Collectors Series, coin, Spirit of ’76 image, Taj Mahal Casino, Atlantic City, N.J., silver, auction estimate $50 to $60 (Aaron Joseph, 2012)

Jigsaw puzzle, depicting July 1939 cover of “Mickey Mouse Magazine” with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy in Spirit of ’76 style image, $9 to $25 in online shops.

Postage stamps, Spirit of ’76 image, issued for 1976 Bicentennial, 2 sheets of 50 13-cent stamps, $10

Firecracker label, Spirit of ’76, made in China for Pensick & Gorden, Los Angeles, Cal., $60 (Morphy, 2012)


Willard's "The Spirit of '76" painting, original copy




















































































































































Archibald Willard’s “The Spirit of ‘76” painting was created for the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The first World’s Fair held in the United States, the 1876 Exposition celebrated the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. Even if you have never seen the painting, the image of the fifer and two drummers marching across a Revolutionary War battlefield with the flag waving in the distance is a familiar one and copied on many collectibles.

Willard was born and lived in Bedford and Wellington, Ohio, both near Cleveland, and he served in Ohio Volunteer Infantry units during the Civil War. He didn’t have a lot of formal art training, but he sketched and made oil paintings of military scenes. A Cleveland businessman encouraged him to create a patriotic painting to celebrate the Centennial. In 1875, inspired by a Fourth of July parade in Wellington, Willard made a sketch of three musicians. This sketch led to the 10- by 13-foot oil painting on canvas, originally titled “Yankee Doodle.” The artist used his father, Samuel Willard, as a model for the tall silver-haired drummer in the center.

The painting was exhibited in Philadelphia and then went on tour. It was given the name, “The Spirit of ’76,” when it was on display in Boston. Willard’s painting was very popular; viewers found it spirited and moving. Several variations were later painted by Willard – experts think between 10 and 14 – and are called “original copies.”

Willard’s original 10- by 13-foot painting now resides in Abbott Hall, a townhall and historical museum in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Some of the original copies can be seen in Cleveland City Hall, Cleveland History Center, the U.S. Department of State, and one is said to be in the office of former presidential candidate Ross Perot. One was sold at auction in 2004 for $3,100 and another, 27 1/2 by 23 1/2 inches, sold in 2018 for $3,840.

The Spirit of ’76 Museum in Wellington, Ohio, is commemorating the 100th anniversary of Archibald Willard’s death along with the town of Wellington’s Bicentennial. More than 20 paintings by Willard are on display, including an original copy of “The Spirit of ’76.” For more information, visit the museum’s website, https://thespiritof76museum.org/. For more information on the Bailey-Walker China Works, visit the Bedford Historical Society's website, https://bedfordohiohistory.org/walker-china-co.




#1 Walker China 76Elf45 2018-07-03 18:24
The Walker China was not manufctoring until the 1920's. It was Bedford Chins, Bailey China and then Baileey Walker. So this is after Willard pasted away. There is a great exhibit of China at Bedford Historical Society. Also drum from painting.

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