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    "The Chief"

    Cigar Store Tobacconist's Indian Chief Trade Figure in the Style of Julius Melchers. Measuring 75" tall including the 22" x 23" base, polychrome paint on wood. As with most trade figures, this Chief has stood outside in the weather soliciting patrons into the store. Restoration has been done in the form of paint touch-up and over painting. The carved area making up the cape shows cracks to the wood along the folds as well as touch up. Other pitting and abrasions appear on the back and there are two eye-hooks for attaching the sign to a building. The back of the headdress appears to be overpainted in grey. There are also signs of restoration to the base and feet.

    This figure has been identified by many experts as being Chief Red Jacket, the legendary Seneca orator who negotiated with the United States after the Revolutionary War and signed the Treaty of Canandaigua. In most of the paintings and statues of Red Jacket, he is shown wearing a Peace Medal as given to him by George Washington.

    This exact piece was published in the 1930s as part of the Index of American Design, a Works Progress Administration project in which American craft traditions from Colonial times to the beginning of the twentieth century were painted in watercolors in order to create a record of our national design heritage for research, publication, and exhibit. This figure of Red Jacket is included in the wonderful volume titled Treasury of American Design and Antiques by Clarence P. Hornung (New York: Harrison House, 1986) as image #211 on page 69. A copy of the book is included with the lot.

    Julius Theodore Melchers (1829-1909) was a very talented and influential Prussian-born woodcarver, sculptor, and teacher who lived and worked in Detroit from 1855 on. Not only a woodcarver with an impressive output of cigar store figures, he was commissioned to carve "larger than life" sandstone sculptures of Detroit's French pioneers that were installed at City Hall in 1874, remaining there until the building was demolished in 1961; they were then moved to Wayne State University.

    Please note:
    Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders as all items are sold in as-is condition. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance, in conjunction with the high resolution, detailed images we provide online, and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please see our Terms & Condition No. 38.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2015
    18th Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,293

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