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The Allen Shop of Rehoboth, Mass.

GEORGE ALLEN.  Allen was active from the 1720s to 1770. He came from England to Boston as a young schoolteacher having had a fine education in England. He set up shop in Rehoboth, Mass. (now E. Providence RI) and became a prolific carver of mass-produced, charming, bald, winged effigies (see fig. 1). He was a member of the Newman Congregational Church and carved many of the stones in the Newman Cemetery in East Providence. He and his son Gabriel carved at least 350 gravestones in the North Burial Ground in Providence. He also carved a portrait like face with a curly wig (see fig. 2). George also did a few masterpiece stones like the Capt. Samuel Peck (1736) stone with five cherubs and a coat of arms.

His extraordinary skill as a draughtsman and carver led to grave and tombstones richly conceived and ornamented with cherubs flying, angels, extremely tilted heads, intricate tracery, heraldic shields and sorrowing mothers. All but the Newport carvers in the Narragansett Basin were influenced by his work. Oddly enough, it is not widespread. He did a few skulls early on, and his work, taking its departure in part from John Stevens II, went, through many stages and much development.

fig 2. George Allen cherub. Photo by Vincent Luti

fig 2 George Allen portrait. Photo by Vincent Luti

GEORGE ALLEN JR.  An enigmatic, misidentified carver, son of George, he worked very briefly in the early 1760s and then completely disappeared. He did effigies not unlike his father’s, but with a goofy look to them, and some handsome skulls. As did his father, he lettered beautifully. The marvelous discovery of a long lost documented stone of his (over 100 years) is recounted in an AGS Newsletter. (No examples)

fig 3 Gabriel Allen. Photo by Vincent Luti

fig 4 Gabriel Allen. Photo by Vincent Luti

GABRIEL ALLEN.  The famous misidentified “G. Allen” was another son of George, but in Providence, where he was a prosperous merchant and later first US Postmaster in that city. He worked early 1770s to 1800. Superb lettering. Only two designs: a severe, cold wigged effigy (see fig. 3) and followed by a softer, cute, winged cherub with bangs (see fig. 4). In addition to these he did an elegant setting sun design.

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