American Plains Indian Tintypes & Bag

Value (2005) | $5,000 Auction$7,000 Auction

GUEST:
When I was cleaning my mother's house out in Jamestown, I found it in a bureau drawer in one of the upstairs bedrooms. And it had the pictures in it.

APPRAISER:
How long ago was that?

GUEST:
About eight years ago.

APPRAISER:
Have you done anything to find out about what these are?

GUEST:
I have written around several places and sent pictures, and I have not found out anything, except they are probably a Plains tribe.

APPRAISER:
The little bag, which fits the tintypes beautifully, is probably from one of the Prairie tribes. I'd suspect it's Potawatomi. And I'm really excited to see something from that part of the country. We're talking about Nebraska, all through that part of the Midwest. It's an unusual beading style. They're fairly rare, and it has a pretty good value by itself. But what was in it-- I can't believe these tintypes were all in here. And I guess you knew that these were called tintypes.

GUEST:
Yes, I did know they were tintypes.

APPRAISER:
They were photographs on tin.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
And there's not a negative. You can't take the picture and say, "Make me ten copies."

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
You have one.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
So the only ones are these. There's not 50 of them somewhere else. They're Sioux.

GUEST:
Oh, they are?

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm. The women are in what are called "dentalium" or bugle bead dresses.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The men have blanket strips that are definitely Sioux. One man has a blanket strip across his lap that looks fairly clearly Sioux. Which band, I don't know. This type of picture was really popular from the late Civil War through the 1880s. They were made for years after that, but not really before that. I suspect these are from the late 1870s through the late 1880s, sometime in there. This is before the tribes fell apart. The look on these people's faces, the pride, they're just so evocative of a period that is so far gone from these tribes and from our country. And these photographs show that better than any I've seen in years. There's people probably in these pictures that fought Custer at the Little Big Horn. These men are men who fought at the end of the Indian Wars and fought through it. They had seen it all. They had defended their families, they had defended what they considered their country against invaders. They were part of the old buffalo days. The buffalo were about gone. These men had hunted buffalo. They'd lived in hide teepees. It was just a whole other world. And for you to have found these in this little bag, they're just marvelous. I mean, this is the kind of thing that just sets me going. There are very serious collectors of this kind of thing, and to find a group like this-- a very specific-looking people. There's nothing vague about the people in these pictures. I'm going to say about $5,000 to $7,000 for the group.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
With research, they will make more. Nice gift from Mom.

GUEST:
Yeah. (chuckles) Good find.

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
San Antonio, TX
Appraised value (2005)
$5,000 Auction$7,000 Auction
Event
Providence, RI (June 18, 2005)
Period
19th Century
Form
Portrait

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