Mohawk Beaded Pillow, ca. 1890

Value (2004) | $1,000 Retail$1,500 Retail

It was my mother-in-law's, and when she passed away, the children came in and my husband and I said everybody could take what they wanted and whatever was left was ours. They didn't want the pillows.

And where did they get it? Do you have any idea?

Well, my mother-in-law got it from her brother, who was 11 years younger than she was, and he was a cowboy.

Here in Nebraska?

No, he went cross-country to the Continental Divide, and he couldn't stand the altitude and he would faint and they would just strap him to his horse and when he got across there, well, then he'd come to.

Was this the pillow he used for sleeping on his horse?

I don't think so.

Do you have any idea where this is from?

No, I have no idea.

Well, we get a lot of this sort of thing into the ROADSHOW. These were made anywhere from Niagara Falls in Ontario, New York, all the way up the St. Lawrence River to Montreal on both sides of the St. Lawrence River by both the Iroquoian tribes and the Mohawk tribes. And one of the things that's pretty interesting about this is this is the only one I've ever seen in 25 years that actually has a stamp of where it was made. It says the name of the maker, and it says "Caughnawaga," and Caughnawaga is a Mohawk Indian town near Montreal on the St. Lawrence River. We turn it back around again, we can see this one. Normally these are just floral, more like we see around the outside, but in this one we've got a nest with three or four chicks in it. We have this large, what I assume is a swan, might be a Canada goose. We have a human figure in this basket, almost get the sense that it might be paddling a canoe, the basket might also be a canoe. It's not in perfect condition, but it's in pretty good condition. I think this is the third pillow like this we've seen today, but the first one we've seen with these figural elements in it and we generally appraise them in the neighborhood of $300, $400, $500 when they're in this condition. However, with all of these wonderful pictorial elements on it, I think this would be more in the neighborhood of about $1,000 to $1,500.

Oh, my. Quite a bit of money for a pillow.

Yes, for something that nobody else wanted.

It was a good thing that my mother-in-law didn't like to throw things away.

Appraisal Details

Donald Ellis Gallery
Dundas, ON, Canada
Appraised value (2004)
$1,000 Retail$1,500 Retail
Omaha, NE (July 10, 2004)
Tribal Arts

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