John Haley Bellamy and His Carved Eagles




John Haley Bel­lamy worked as a wood carver in the Kit­tery Maine area dur­ing the late 19th cen­tury. While spend­ing much of his career as a ship carver he is most famous for his sig­na­ture style small carved eagles, one of which is shown above. Lit­tle is known about the man or his work, and most of his other carv­ings go unno­ticed. While many so-called experts fawn over the man and his work, claim­ing he was a mas­ter carver and artis­tic genius, I tend to dis­agree. His carv­ing skills were good, but I think his skills didn’t approach mas­ter­ful. His strength was effi­ciency. He was able to por­tray com­plex­i­ties with very sim­ple designs. He dis­tilled the iconic eagle to its bare essen­tials, trick­ing the casual viewer into see­ing much more than was actu­ally there.

So-called experts also believe John Bel­lamy made hun­dreds of these small eagles as gifts, and that he could carve one in a cou­ple of hours. While he may have given many eagles away, he also sold many of them–several exam­ples exist with the price tag still on the back cov­er­ing the screw used to hold then head to the eagle’s body. Bel­lamy sold them for $2.50, a bar­gain even then. While no one knows just how many of these small eagles Bel­lamy carved dur­ing his career, I can assure you he didn’t make them in an hour or two. Those eagles with ban­ners required four sep­a­rate parts that had to be cut, carved, painted and assem­bled. Hav­ing made dozens of these eagles, I’m sure it took him most of a day, from start to fin­ish, to make one of his sig­na­ture 25″ ban­ner eagles.

The Inter­net is full of wood carvers sell­ing “Bel­lamy style” eagles. I’m the only carver that has taken every oppor­tu­nity to closely exam­ine every orig­i­nal Bel­lamy eagle I can find at antique shows and shops. I have a col­lec­tion of hun­dreds of pho­tos of orig­i­nal Bel­lamy eagles and have spent count­less hours study­ing those pho­tos and try­ing to recre­ate his mas­ter­pieces. My attempts at repro­duc­ing John Bellamy’s eagles has evolved to a point that they are the most faith­ful repro­duc­tions avail­able any­where and from any carver. My pat­terns are based on exact trac­ings and mea­sure­ments taken from high res­o­lu­tion pho­tos of his finest exam­ples. And I have carved enough of these eagles to have devel­oped the flu­ency to pro­duce them fast enough to sell them at the most afford­able prices.

Avail­able in any size, con­fig­u­ra­tion and state of aging. Choose an orig­i­nal slo­gan for the ban­ner or a slo­gan of your own design, or omit the ban­ner alto­gether. Call or email me to dis­cus the possibilities.


2 thoughts on “John Haley Bellamy and His Carved Eagles

  1. John, If you have’nt already please do your­self a favor and buy Jim Craigs book “Amer­i­can Eagle– The­Bold Art and Brash Life of John Hal­ley Bel­lamy”. It came out last spring and destroys much of the research done in ” the bible” which is Yvonne Smiths book. This book shows alot of the archi­tec­tural mill work Bel­lamy did as well as his period work of releif scultp­ture which is in keep­ing with high relief work being done in Europe dur­ing his time. There is even a chap­ter doc­u­ment­ing many famous artists includ­ing Mark Twain who took the time to find him in Kit­tery and befriend him.. quite amazing!

    1. Hi John, I have a signed copy of the book I bought at the exhi­bi­tion. I even sent James Craig a copy of a Bel­lamy let­ter I have that helps with some of the miss­ing time­line in his career, but I haven’t heard back from him.

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