This excellent pair of silhouettes of George and Martha Washington was hand cut in 1932 by Lonzo Cox (1879-1940). Billed as a “scissorsgraphist” and known by the nickname “Scissors,” Mr. Cox traveled the world, cutting his silhouettes at shows in theaters and in department store appearances. He perfected an electric device that projected his silhouettes onto a canvas screen so that the audience could view him working. Our last photo is his portrait in 1917.
Cox patented his silhouettes of famous people like the Washingtons and sold them, in this instance at the gift shop at Mount Vernon, Virginia. When he cut these silhouettes out of black paper and mounted them on tan paper backgrounds, he was living in Natural Bridge, Virginia. He signed them on the front “By Lonzo Cox” and used backing paper stamped with his label. Someone cleverly dated them by affixing on the back of each one a paper stamp that commemorates the George Washington Bicentennial Birthday Celebration in 1932.
The silhouettes are in excellent condition, with no tears, stains or discolorations. The 7/8 inch wide frames are veneered in mahogany that has a lovely grain; both lower corners of Mr. Washington's have small chips out of the veneer (shown). The glass covers are intact and unscratched. There were small hangers, probably brass, that were attached at the top of each, but are now missing. A later make-do solution resulted in the string looped on tacks on each back, which we've left as is. The dust papers are torn but intact.
The overall measurements of the framed silhouettes are 6 3/4 by 5 ¾ inches; they each weigh about ½ pound. Lonzo Cox's "shadow portraits" of the Washingtons are a great find for collectors and history lovers.