American, late 19th century. An Andrew Clemens sand bottle in sealed apothecary jar, with layered colored sands in geometric borders, framing a floral design with banner above that reads Milo, a gentleman from Millersburg, Illinois (about 100 miles from Clemens's hometown of Dubuque, Iowa). On verso, a patriotic decoration of American flag over the wings of an eagle in flight; 7 in.
Andrew Clemens (1857-1894) of Dubuque, Iowa, spent most of his life in nearby McGregor. Due to voice encephalitis, he lost both voice and hearing and was sent to the Iowa Institute for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb. There, Clemens began experimenting with sand art, collecting multicolored sands from the Pictured Rocks region of Iowa. He fashioned special tools that he used to arrange the sand in intricate designs and then pack it tightly (he used no glue of any kind). Sizes and designs varied, and orders came to Clemens from around the world, each customer paying about five to seven dollars. As his skill developed, his subjects ranged from boats and ships to flowers, flags, and eagles. Clemens, dubbed "the portrait painter without a brush or paint," died in 1894. He is thought to have produced hundreds of bottles during his lifetime, but few survive today.
Descended in family to the granddaughter of Milo,