John Haley Bellamy and His Carved Eagles

 

johnhalleybellamy

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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