1885 Kiowa Beaded Toy Baby Carrier

Value (2011) | $10,000 Retail$12,000 Retail
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GUEST:
It was in our home ever since I was a young girl, and it came from my father's side of the family, and when I asked him about it, the best that he could recollect was that my great-grandparents went on a trip out west and purchased it then.

APPRAISER:
Do you know when your great- grandparents went out west?

GUEST:
No, he didn't know. So, we don't have a date, except that on the back of it there's a date of December 1885. The artist's name is on the back, and I couldn't find out anything about her. I looked online. But it came from the Indian Territory in 1885.

APPRAISER:
Well, let me tell you what I know. I used to live where this was made.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
And this is a doll cradle.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Indian children had them, and they sold them also as toys.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
They are exact replicas of full-size baby cradles. And this was made by a Kiowa woman in the area around what's now Anadarko, Oklahoma. I think it probably dates to about 1885. It's very unusual to have a name associated with the piece. It's possible that you could take that name and run it down in the Indian rolls and find out who this woman was. It would have been made by a woman. It's in pieces.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
So it needs to be put back together. These would have been slightly spread and attached all the way up the side through those holes with hide lacing. This little crossbar would have gone right across here and been laced with lacing also. This is a flap that would have gone across the top, where this is, over the front of it. It would probably cost the grand sum of $300 to $500 to get it put back together correctly. The boards are painted. I'm not sure what the wood is. It could be bois d'arc, but it may be ash also. But it has kind of the orange color of bois d'arc. The painting is very Kiowa. This design right here some say represents a scorpion. The beading is unusual. It's almost beaded on a... like a loom. It's woven, and then it's attached in strips. And, so it took a long time to do this. It wasn't just an easy thing to do. The doll is not particularly valuable. It's just a nice little porcelain doll. Now, the big worry is, well... It's in pieces.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
So how does that affect the value?

APPRAISER:
In my mind, it doesn't. It's so easy to repair and clean up, I think that it would bring the same amount of money repaired or unrepaired.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
If you went to buy this in a shop, it's going to be easily $10,000 to $12,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh. That's amazing.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
San Antonio, TX
Appraised value (2011)
$10,000 Retail$12,000 Retail
Event
Pittsburgh, PA (August 13, 2011)
Period
19th Century
Form
Cradle
Material
Beads, Wood
February 27, 2012: During his appraisal of this Kiowa toy baby cradle, Tribal Arts expert Bruce Shackleford was surprised to discover the name of the artist scribbled on the back of the toy. "It's very unusual to have a name associated with the piece," Shackleford explained.

Shackleford was unable to make out the name in its entirety, but he told Janet, the toy's owner, that if she wanted to pursue it further, "[she] could take that name and run it down in the Indian Rolls and find out who this woman was."

But what exactly are the Indian Rolls and what might Janet discover there?

The Indian Census Rolls, which span from 1885 to 1940, were the result of an 1884 Act of Congress that required agents in charge of Indian reservations to submit population records to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Although the records were incomplete — there aren't census records for every reservation or group of Indians for every year — and the data from record-to-record varied, the Indian Census Rolls are the most thorough archive of U.S. Native American populations that exist for that time period.

Generally, the records include the English and/or Indian name of the person, roll number, age or date of birth, sex, and relationship to head of family. Using these categories, and with a bit of time and effort, Janet might be able to narrow down the list of records and determine the name of her toy's creator. An initial search of the Rolls by ROADSHOW did not uncover any additional information about the partial name Shackleford found on the toy, but more in-depth research could yield better results.

The records are maintained by the U.S. National Archives and can be accessed —  among other ways — free of charge at a number of National Archive facilities across the country, or through online subscription services such as Ancestry.com or hertiagequest.com, which have digitized many of the records.

To explore the records yourself, visit the National Archives to get started:

www.archives.gov/research/census/research.html

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