Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Cree Snowshoes, Turquoise Skull Beads & Indian/Buffalo Head Nickel Button Covers...

Whooeee, what fun. I've been learning all about snowshoes these days. I had no idea of the range of styles and lengths, design driven by purpose and place/terrain and, of course, the type and depth of snow. Given the weather in Calgary yesterday where they got about 4 inches of snow, maybe I should send them out there. Looks like someone could use a pair.

These are Cree snowshoes, 33.5 inches in length, characterised by densely woven rows of babiche -- note the distinctive bound round bits where the boot lacing/harness would go -- and from my research these date from the 1870s-1920s. Those red bits are the remains of pompoms, dyed tufts of possibly caribou fur, the red colour indicating the Cree Nation. The purpose of the pompoms is that animal fur would mask human scent, and ideally one would craft the pompoms using fur of the game animal one was primarily hunting. You can see an almost identical pair on the Vintage Winter site, where I found (okay, swiped) this information.

These snowshoes are in remarkably good condition, except for one bit of damage as shown here:

The snowshoes are currently on a wall in Booth 800/801/847 at the One of a Kind Antique Mall, along with a pile of new goodies, including a large Arkansas stone in a custom wooden box with screw holes so the bottom part of the box can be securely fastened to a workbench, as well as the items that were in the picture from the other day.

My new turquoise skull beads that I scoured the Internet looking for landed in my mailbox yesterday, but I was typing all day (yay!!) so couldn't pick them up until today. The three small ones are just over 3/4 of an inch high and the light green one at the top is 7/8 inch high, and the matrix patterns and the colours are beautiful. They all have flat backs. My dilemma is do I try to sell these now or hang onto them for The Gem Expo coming up in November. They're all so cute.

I have only ever heard of Indian head nickels, never seen any. These have been glued onto heavy-duty covered button thingies, but the dates are clearly and somewhat visible, respectively: 1926 and 1925. I just had a look-see online to see what these years were worth undomed and unglued and, well, not very much: a couple of bucks. BUT... I did discover that these have a buffalo on the other side (of course hidden by the button thingies), that three to four Native men were used to produce the portrait, and that the buffalo was named Black Diamond (or maybe Bronx), lived at either the Bronx Zoo or the Central Park Zoo and 1.2 billion coins were produced between 1913 and 1938. The things you can learn on Wikipedia.

I have registered for the November Gem Expo and booked my hotel, so mark your calendars: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 21, 22 and 23. See you there.

Thanks for looking!

No comments: