This Week: Smythson Yeats Antiques

“Tramp art,” the shop proprietor shouted, startling me as I examined a picture frame made out of a material I couldn’t quite identify. My brow furrowed, and his eyes widened – you could hear a pin drop; let the lesson begin.

As the shop owner shared the history of tramp art, I sensed that he could teach me much, that within him there existed a story for each object in the room. I looked past him and noticed all the globes, the vintage acupuncture chart; it was a bit like being in school, only this time, I didn’t want the bell to ring.

So now I know a bit about tramp art, which came to be widely recognized during the great depression (the first one, not the one we’re slipping into now) when homeless people began making functional art (frames, crucifixes, you name it) out of cigar boxes in exchange for food and money. Cool stuff, learning while shopping.


The frame is tramp art.

Smythson Yeats, even absent the schooling, is a charming little shop perfectly located on a stretch of Lincoln Avenue that includes Praha, Mod Life and a handful of old-fashioned, pre-Scout* antique shops which are stuffed to the rafters (literally) with just about anything.

But Smythson Yeats stands out, both for its well-edited appearance and for its eclectic mix of objects, which include high-end (and expensive) art deco furniture and lighting, vintage globes, objects Decoratus Absurdum and yes, tramp art. Unlike so many places that try to do too much, Smythson Yeats makes it all work.

Class sizes are small, so hurry over if you want a spot. Smythson Yeats is located at 3851 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood. For questions, call 773-244-6356.

Ding-ding-ding.






A bit Decoratus Absurdum, don’t you think?

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