DescriptionIron Tail 101 Ranch Knife and Original Photo. A 17.5" knife, with bone handle partially wrapped with rawhide. German steel blade with maker's mark correct for the period, inscribed on both sides: "Iron Tail" on one, and "101 Ranch" on the other. Light overall pitting on the blade, otherwise excellent condition. Iron Tail was a Sioux Indian who fought alongside Sitting Bull at Little Bighorn. For some years he was featured in Buffalo Bill's Wild West, where this photo was taken in 1901. He performed in the 101 Ranch show from 1913 to 1916, but he is perhaps best remembered as one of the three models for the buffalo nickel.
It is uncertain whether this knife was made to be used by him as a show prop or was sold as a souvenir. The quality of the blade and the sharp edge seem inappropriate for something sold as a souvenir, but the lack of use patina on the handle seems to support the souvenir argument. We have not been able to uncover another example, and would welcome input in this regard, since if other similar examples exist this would strongly suggest that knives like this were issued as souvenirs. In either case, a wonderful piece of Western Americana.
The photo is 6.25" x 5.5" on its original board, and is in excellent condition; with original pencil attribution dated May 6, 1901, on verso.
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