Description

    From the Fitterer Family Collection

    Sioux Chief Gall: Well-Used Beaded Knife Sheath Belonging to this Little Big Horn Participant, With Provenance from Photographer D. F. Barry. One of the most remarkably documented relics of this nature which we have ever encountered. The knife sheath is accompanied by a Barry cabinet photo of Gall. On the back, Barry has written: "Attested to by David F. Barry Photographer of Noted Indians - Superior Wis./Chief Gall died at Standing Rock Agency N.D. - Gall was the Master Strategist in Custers Last Stand." Below his studio imprint he has added: "This hunting knife sheath was made for Chief G_ll by his squaw." Barry was an avid collector of artifacts, many of them given to him by his photographic subjects. It has been estimated that his original collection included up to several hundred objects.

    When Barry returned to Superior in 1898 he brought his collection, 130 items of which are now housed at the Fairlawn Museum there. The remainder of the collection, presumably including this piece, were sold off or otherwise dispersed. Ownership passed to Roy M. Carlson, who signed the upper left corner of the cabinet. Included with the lot is the unbroken chain of ownership from Carlson up through the current owner.

    Gall, along with Sitting Bull and Rain in the Face, was one of Barry's most important - and difficult - subjects. He rebuffed Barry's first efforts to take his picture, reportedly once covering his head with his robe to ruin the picture. When Gall finally relented the first time, he reportedly reconsidered and attempted to recover the photo from Barry at knifepoint! However, Barry was able to fend him off with a pistol. Later the two would become friends at Standing Rock.

    The sheath is made of buffalo hide, sinew-sewn with dark blue and white beadwork. Fine, worn patina on reverse, with traces of blue and green beadwork at the opening. Length 9.625". Beautifully custom-framed along with a laser copy of the inscribed reverse of the cabinet photo (the actual cabinet card is included in the lot, but was kept separate so both sides could be viewed).

    A wonderful artifact from the era when, in barely a decade, prominent chiefs such as Gall and Sitting Bull transitioned from living free in the traditional way to reservation life and gradual assimilation into the white man's way of life.

    Please Note: In response to an inquiry as to how we know that the hand-printing on the back of the cabinet photo is Barry's we have done exhaustive research. However, we have failed to turn up another example of Barry's printing to compare it to. This printing certainly has a vintage feel, and from the way the attribution is worded it seems likely that it was either printed by Barry or done under his direct supervision. But in the interests of complete accuracy we feel compelled to note that we cannot confirm that this is in Barry's hand.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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