Museum Of #FarmingtonNH History Features Varney Collection Carved Acorns & Nuts

It’s hard to tell the intricacies and details in this photo of Mr. Varney’s carved nuts, which can be seen in the Museum of Farmington History.

Mr. Varney, the nut carver.
The Society had an inquiry some time ago from a group traveling through NH looking for items and places in the book, "New Hampshire Curiosities".  In that guide there is a mention of "Mr.
Varney's carved nut baskets, which the Society has in the Museum of Farmington History. They group wanted to visit the museum to see those carved baskets. Museum Curator, Kyle Leach, was in the process of making an appointment for them to come by, when the COVID-19 outbreak happened. A physical meeting in the museum is not an option at this point, but is postponed until further notice. In light of the interest, Kyle thought to report on the information we do know about those nut carvings and include some photos for all to see and appreciate.

The carved nut baskets are made from acorns, walnuts and chestnuts, carefully carved into tiny baskets. A few have semiprecious stones attached and all are finished with a shiny coat of shellac. They were hand made by "Deke" Varney. The talent and skill to make each basket is even more incredible when you know that Mr. Varney only had one arm. The baskets won two awards at the October 1916 West Milton Community Fair, a large, local event that pulled participants and the general public from most of the surrounding communities. It was the Second Annual West Milton Community Fair. The Historical Society has the baskets, a photo of Mr. Varney, and both awards in their museum collection.

Close up of a few of Mr. Varney’s carved nuts.  You can see one with an embedded gemstone in the upper right corner.  To get an idea of the size of these carvings, note that they are stapled to the display board.

Below: his 11916 award announcement.

The Society hopes that you will take notice of these wonderful treasures when you can see them again in person. For now, they hope our readers will enjoy the photos included here.

Kyle Leach
Museum of Farmington History

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