Taufschein of Milly Bell
MILLY BELL WAS/ born in Virginia Shanandoah Coun / ty the 11th anno Domini 1800 her/ parents are Daniel Bell and/ Barbara Knisly her/ Sponsors are George / Mowrer and / Catherine his / wife Baptized / By the Rev. / B. Willy
Artist/Maker: Heinrich (Henry) Heltzel (1788-1867, w. ca. 1810-1828). A large number of birth and baptismal certificates created for families and members of the Lutheran and Reformed churches in the Stony Creek area of Shenandoah County, Virginia, have long been attributed to an anonymous artist known by the working name of the “Stony Creek Artist.” The mystery of the artist’s identity was solved by the discovery of a student copy book now in the collection of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley containing the 1826 signature of “H. Heltzel” now identified by independent scholar Gene Comstock as schoolmaster, Henry Heltzel. Comstock’s research, using both genealogical and stylistic evidence, has provided ample evidence pointing to Henry Helztel as the Stony Creek Artist. For full details see: H. E. Comstock. “Stony Creek Fraktur Artist Identified.” MESDA Journal, Vol. 31, No. 2 – Vol. 32, No. 2 (Winter 2005 – Winter 2006).
Characteristic features of Heltzel’s work found in this example include the “heavenly curtain” framing the upper portion of this fraktur, and the two large pomegranates on either side of the lower portion. Other motifs include the winged angel head, tassels, and the five (sometimes four)-petaled rosettes seen in the lower corners and surrounding the angel head. The artist’s flowers and tulips are frequently filled with hatched lines. The winged angel at the top beneath the tassel invariably appears on pieces with the curtain motif. The artist also frequently used subdued pastel colors, with shades of pink and green being the most commonly used. The child’s name is inscribed in large block letters at the head of the text, a feature that is found in many of Heltzel’s works. Some of Heltzel’s taufscheine are inscribed in German, some in English, often combining fraktur Gothic lettering with cursive copperplate, or old German script. This example is written in English in Roman block and copperplate lettering. On at least one other example Heltzel listed the mother of the child by her maiden name, probably the case in this example.
Comstock, H.E. “Stony Creek Fraktur Artist Identified.” MESDA Journal vol. 31. No 1 (Winter 2005 – Winter 2006)