Plains Indian Pictographs, ca. 1882
I received this book from my father's estate in 1986. It came from South Dakota. My grandfather lived in South Dakota for many years.
So it's been in the family all these years?
Well, this little book is what we would normally call a ledger book because merchants would use books similar to this-- usually a little bit bigger-- to record all their purchases for their stores and that sort of thing. There's also some information here from somebody that originally collected this book saying that this belonged to an Indian by the name of "Scares the Enemy." We don't know exactly who this was, but we do know that it says it was collected between 1882 and 1883. That's the right date that we would like to see in these particular types of drawings. We call these pictographs, and these drawings represent scenes from an individual's life, various exploits that he had in warfare, counting coup, stealing ponies. And he has ten different pictographs here, some of which are displayed here, some of which are still in the book. He had some very rare weapons, which he displays. In this particular case, there's a sword in one hand with a drop hanging off the bottom of the sword. In the other hand, he's got a bow lance, which was only allowed to be carried by certain warriors belonging to a certain society. You very rarely see any in museum collections, much less in a pictograph. He's got a bandolier strap hanging off of him, which means that he would stake himself to the ground and he would refuse to surrender or refuse to retreat. So we know he was a very brave guy from that. In another scene, we have a crooked lance which he was using to kill another guy. In these scenes, you see these little tadpole-looking figures. Those are actually bullets which are being fired behind him. If they were a little larger, they would be what we were more typically used to seeing. They're smaller scenes, meaning they're not worth quite as much. In a gallery today in a retail setting, you would probably expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,500 to $2,000 a page. So with ten pages, you're looking at about $15,000 for the book.
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