About Us

Our Background and Story

Our Mission

Continuing the Traditions

The Historical Society of Early American Decoration (HSEAD) perpetuates and expands the unique skills and knowledge of Early American Decoration. 

We accomplish this mission through educational programs, research, publishing, and exhibitions of the work of our practicing guild artists in regional chapters.

Why…
Hand-decorated American objects from the 18th and 19th century link us to the past in a personal and tangible way. Brushstroke by brushstroke, we feel a connection to the talented people who made these beautiful functional objects that were used in the households of ordinary people. We keep these art forms alive for the future.

What…
Decorated articles from the homes of our ancestors are the focus of our work. These include painted,  stenciled and gilded furniture, cornice boards, tin trunks, coffee pots, trays, bellows, glass panels in clocks and looking glasses, walls, and floors.

How…
Members work individually and in workshops in stenciling, pontypool painting, gold leafing, Victorian flower painting, penwork, reverse glass painting, clock dials, country painting, freehand bronzing and theorem painting. The Society also has an awards program for outstanding teaching and craftsmanship in various fields.

The Society extensively researches original decorative art from the 1700s and 1800s. In addition to several books and videos, members continue to publish articles for The Decorator (the official publication of the Society) and other publications. The Society maintains a lending library of original early American designs

Our History

A Rich Heritage

The Historical Society of Early American Decoration (or HSEAD) is a group of practicing guild artists who conduct education programs, research and exhibitions to perpetuate and expand the unique skills and knowledge of Early American Decoration. Decorated articles from the homes of our forefathers are the focus of our work. These include furniture, cornice boards, painted tin trunks, coffee pots, trays, bellows, glass panels in clocks, gilded looking glasses, and painted and stenciled walls and floors. Thirteen affiliated local chapters carry the mission of the Society. Members work individually and in workshops taught by certified instructors in stenciling, pontypool painting, gold leafing, Victorian flower painting, penwork, reverse glass painting, clock dials, country painting, freehand bronzing and theorem painting.The society extensively researches original decorative art from the period of the 1700-1800s. In addition to several books and videos, members continue to publish articles for The Decorator (the official publication of the Society) and other publications. The Society also has an awards program for outstanding teaching and craftsmanship in various fields, and maintains a lending library of authentic original early American designs.

In 1946, a group of students formed HSEAD to honor the memory and perpetuate the work of their teacher, Esther Stevens Brazer (1898-1945). Brazer, the accepted authority on Early American Decoration, was a pioneer in recognizing it as a valuable art form. She was a diligent researcher, teacher, and the author of Early American Decoration, the first book on the topic. She devoted many years to studying and preserving original pieces, and elevating the standards of reproducing decoration.