|Title:||Sioux War Shirt|
|Date/Era/Period:||late 1800's/early 1900's|
|Description:||a beaded leather shirt|
|Condition:||poor to fair -- bead loss and smoke damage|
|Origin:||Purchased at a flea market, the old fellow I bought it from said he originally paid $2500 for it, he had had a fire and it had smoke damage, his insurance had paid him for it, so he was selling it. I didn't pay much attention to his story, it was only $25, so I bought it, never thought to question him about any history he might know, where he got it, etc., but when I got home (a 2 hour drive) and got to looking at it, I kind of think it might be a genuine old Sioux war shirt. I would like your opinion. It looks like the sleeves are made of tanned deer hide, the body of some other animal hide -- lighter in color and of a heavier texture. The beads on the front and on the sleeves are the large pony beads and were first sewn on a strip of white cloth and then that was sewn onto the leather. Everything is sewn by hand, including the seams at the sleeves. (It is sewn with thread, not sinew.) The beads on the shirt and sleeves are the big pony beads, and there is a lot of bead loss. The beads on the tab or bib at the neck are smaller beads, and the cloth trim at the neck looks like old red trade cloth. I don't see any bead loss on that bib -- and both the front and the back (I can't tell which is which) have the bib. It has smoke damage to be sure. You can see in the photos that it is soot covered, and it smells strongly of smoke. I don't see any actual fire damage though. I am pretty sure that the bead loss is due to age and poor care rather than fire.|
|Provenance:||I have no provenance.|
|Appraised By:||Michael Higgins|
|History Of The Item:||Hello, Thanks for requesting the appraisal and sending plenty of images. Well, it's definitely made in the Plains "War Shirt" style, but unforturnately it's been put together and is 20th century. The sleeve strips have been put on another "white" piece of leather then sewn down. These beads are definitely from the 20th Century from what I can see. The front tab "rectangular" appears to have some red "white hearts" on it, so they could be older beads. This type of rectangular tab is more of the stye of Northern Plains or Plateau. Also, the fringe might be possbily commerically tanned. Even though this is a later shirt, you got a fantastic deal. For decorative purposes it's a nice wall hanger. Of course, because of the additions and it being 20th cent., it will never demand a extremely high price. I know this is not the info you were hoping for and I apologize to be the bearer of bad news, but even though I deal in 19th century beadwork, even I would have bought it for that price.If there's anything else I can help you with, please let me know.|
|Appraiser Tips:||If it has a smokey smell, probably the best thing would be to just hang it up outside to air out, unless the weather is very humid or it might have a chance to get damp. After it's air out, you can always put it in a bag with some cedar chips and that might also help.|
|Research Sources:||As far as my research resources, besides having an immense library, auction catalogs, have examined thousands of beaded items from all areas - I also own the oldest strictly Antique Indian Art Gallery in Arizona. I help many other Indian Art dealers, whose specailty is not beadwork (as it can be a little tricky), as I see reproductions all the time.|
|Appraiser Comments:||Again, we both wish your shirt had been a 19th century one and worth tons of money. Being an appraiser, it always makes my job a lot easier when everyone is really exicted with a new valuable find, but I have to call them as I see them, regardless of the news. Enjoy the shirt for what it is and if you do sell it, I promise you - you will make money.|
The expert, Michael Higgins, is of the opinion that this item
IS PROBABLY NOT
Reason: Because of the type of beads used (20th cent), it has to be considered a 20th century shirt (even though it might have some 19th cent. beads). The beaded strips were definitely added on later and it is string sewn (although some 19th century beadwork was string sewn). All together, is was pretty easy to see that this was a later shirt.
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