Monday, October 31, 2011
The blade is 1084 carbon steel, antler handle with a thru tang peened over a copper pommel and a copper ferrule filled with pewter. The sheath is vegetable tanned cowhide covered with rawhide.
Copy and photos by Charlie Wallingford.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
This rare headdress, likely dating to the late 18th or early 19th century, is made of the whole headskin of a deer and was likely worn by a chief. The headband portion is decorated with a zigzag appliqué of porcupine quills dyed with natural pigments. The double-curve motif, finely worked in white porcupine quills on the headband, may represent the Great Tree of Peace in Iroquois cosmology. Eagle and great horned owl feathers are attached to the back of the headdress. The headpiece, as well as the antlers and tips of the feathers, have been daubed in red pigment. The red disk at the front, perhaps symbolizing the sun, is made of stroud, a type of trade wool and the only material of European origin on the headdress.
Archaeological evidence from the Eastern Woodlands suggests that the wearing of horned headdresses as symbols of chiefly power goes back thousands of years. In the 18th century, Aboriginal people identified different influential individuals as "chiefs". Many of these men - and sometimes women - were village leaders, an inherited position of responsibility for village affairs. Most Aboriginal nations also had separate chiefs for war and peace. A theatre of fragile alliances, ongoing negotiations and frequent warfare, the complex world of 18th-century politics saw the rise of alliance chiefs, who represented their community or nation to outsiders.
David Ross McCord acquired the headdress in the belief that it had been worn by the famous Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, born in 1768 and killed in 1813 at the Battle of Moraviantown. Although we cannot be sure of this attribution, the headdress was no doubt worn by a chief or important Aboriginal leader.
This remarkable bag exemplifies the innovative ways in which Aboriginal women employed both traditional and European materials to create objects of striking beauty. The front of the bag is particularly striking: a netted panel of dyed porcupine quills was used to evoke lightening surrounding a Thunderbird, a powerful manito from the Upperworld. The shiny band of trade silver, perhaps originally a hatband, reflects light and is symbolically associated with the supernatural world of manitos. The touch mark indicates that Montreal silversmith Charles Arnoldi made the silver band. Striped wool cloth edged with silk ribbon provides the backing for the pouch. The bottom is finished with a tight row of quill wrapped hide thongs to which sheet metal cones stuffed with animal hair have been attached. This bag was clearly crafted with great care for an important individual, by a woman who mastered traditional Aboriginal arts like quillwork, while also integrating new trade materials in innovative and highly effective ways.
Charles Arnoldi was a Montreal silversmith who was active between the dates of 1799 and 1817.
Trade silver objects, like these wristbands, were produced by Europeans to distribute to Aboriginal people as gifts and in exchange for furs. Although Europeans tended to view trading as a strictly commercial enterprise, they recognized the need to respect Aboriginal protocol related to commerce, including ceremonial gift exchange. They began to produce silver ornaments - such as circular or "ring" brooches, large gorgets, and a range of arm and leg bands to supply the needs of merchants involved in the fur trade.
During the 18th century, most Aboriginal warriors owned a European-manufactured knife, which was carried in a decorated sheath worn suspended from a strap around the neck. This top panel from an early knife sheath is ornamented with quillwork embroidery and sewn with sinew. It is possible that the lozenge and circle shaped motifs were designed to please important spirits or to convey special potency to the weapon.
Women created the majority of the garments and accessories, painting, weaving and stitching them with powerful cosmological motifs. The choice of materials and the manner in which the object was constructed could be deeply significant, intended to please certain spirits and protect the wearer.
The motifs on this knife sheath panel and the fact that it is sewn in sinew suggest that it dates to the mid to late 18th century, probably from about 1740 to 1780.
The clasp knife was a popular trade item that was in great demand by Aboriginal people. The knives were made in France: recent research has determined that most of them were manufactured in the town of St. Étienne. Called jambettes by the French, these inexpensive knives were produced in large quantities, transported to North America, and traded throughout New France from northern Quebec to Louisiana.
Throughout the fur trade period, coureurs des bois exchanged these knives with their Aboriginal trading partners and also gave them as gifts to strengthen social and economic ties with the individuals and groups they encountered. Once these practical folding knifes had entered Aboriginal hands, they quickly travelled along ancient trade networks. Today, archaeologists documenting the contact and fur trade periods, find the blades ofjambettes on archaeological sites across the country.
The folding knife is recorded as having been found in the Tadoussac region, on the Québec Cote-Nord. Situated at the mouth of the Saguenay River, Tadoussac was a major trading centre in the 17th and 18th centuries, since it was situated at a traditional Aboriginal meeting place.
These glass beads date from about 1630 to the 1650s, and come from a Neutral village site in Ontario. The earliest glass beads brought by Europeans appear to have been strung and worn as necklaces and adornments on the body, or attached to ear and hair ornaments. Some beads may have arrived in the form of rosaries, given to Aboriginal converts. Eventually Aboriginal people incorporated glass beads into clothing styles - embroidering tiny white glass beads onto the edges of moccasin and coat cuffs, and weaving them into sashes and straps.
Glass beads were quickly incorporated into the suite of materials (including high-quality stone to make tools, bark, deer hides and corn) that travelled along Aboriginal trade routes. In this way, beads travelled across vast distances and often ended up very far from the initial location where trade with Europeans took place. Archaeologists are able to recognize distinctive, precisely dated glass bead assemblages, and this allows isolated Aboriginal sites from anywhere within these trading spheres to be placed within this master chronological sequence.
Most of these beads come from a Neutral village situated near Hamilton, Ontario. They were probably acquired through trade with Iroquois groups living in the St. Lawrence Valley, close to centres of French activity such as Quebec and Tadoussac.
Archaeologists call this period "Glass Bead Period III" due to the distinctive assemblage of glass beads that have been identified on archaeological sites of this time period.Copy and Images from Musée Mccord.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
These Pictures were taken October 4th in Boston at the home of David and Rosalee McCullough. He is a two times Pulitzer Prize Winner, author of many books such as John Adams and 1776. The photo of David writing is a personal letter for me and the typewriter is a 1947 Remmington that he has written everything to date. All of his work was just catalogued by the Library of Congress. He also did the PBS documentary the Civil War with Ken Burns, and was the voice in the hit Movie "Sea Bisquit". I made him three 18th Century style walking canes, all of curly maple, sterling silver and brass inlays, all carved and engraved with the owners names on them and mine as the maker. One is his personal cane and other two pictured were for presentation pieces for two special people who were invited to his shows in Boston and California, the performances are called "An Evening with David McCullough". He is a real American treasure for sure and I am proud to be a neighbor and family friend.
Copy and photos by Steve Boyleston.