American Votive Folk Art
This unique artform became stylish around 1910 among newly arrived immigrants to America. Parish members would contribute personal jewelry, hat pins, tie pins, beadwork, cuff links, collar studs, coins, and many other items to create biblical scenes in thanksgiving and tribute to God for bringing them to this land.
The collection was originally housed at the Gem Vespers Museum in Barton, New York until the death of the proprietor, James Scanlon in the late 1940's. After Mr. Scanlon's death the display was sold individually, mostly through antique dealers. Before the collection was dismantled, a small boy, Robert Ryan, toured Gem Vesper's museum and was very much inspired by the beauty created by these people. When he heard of Mr. Scanlon's death and the demise of the folk art, he determined in his heart to reclaim this wonderful collection and someday place it on display.
He succeeded in his goal, re -purchasing most of the collection and adding other examples of this artform where it remained in his care for many years. In 1994, the day after Thanksgiving, Mr. Ryan graciously donated this God given collection in it's entirety to the Living Bible Museum. It is the largest collection of it's kind in the United States.